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Published December 07, 2022 Updated December 07, 2022

Cinquantenario Fondazione dell'Impero

50 anniversario / cinquantenario fondazione dell'Impero, Italy 1936-1986.

1986 Africa Ethiopia Italy Edizone Il Meneghello Commemorative Imperial Political Add to Collection

This pack was published by Edizone Il Meneghello in a limited edition of 2000 on the 50th anniversary of the Italian Empire, and the creation of Italian East Africa. This was an Italian colony in the Horn of Africa formed in 1936 through the merger of Italian Somalia, Italian Eritrea, and the newly occupied Ethiopian Empire conquered in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War.

There are 40 cards in the pack, ace-seven, and jack, queen, king. The figures on the pip cards and courts are repeated on each suit, while the aces portray H.M. Vittorio Emanuele III, King of Italy from 1900-1946, and self-proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia from 1936-1941, Haile Selasssie (Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974), Rodolfo Graziani (Viceroy of Italian East Africa) and, on the ace of hearts, a shield with crossed spears with a feathered crown above. The pip cards portray Ethiopian soldiers, an Abyssinian chieftain, sergeants from the Royal Corps of Eritrean Colonial Troops, Blackshirts from the Voluntary Militia for National Security.

‘Cinquantenario Fondazione dell'Impero’ playing cards published by Edizone Il Meneghello, 1986 ‘Cinquantenario Fondazione dell'Impero’ playing cards published by Edizone Il Meneghello, 1986

Above: ‘Cinquantenario Fondazione dell'Impero’ playing cards published by Edizone Il Meneghello, 1986. The cards have square corners and measure 10 x 6 cm, limited edition of 2000.

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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