These fanciful designs in Art Nouveau style with oriental flavour were originally created as part of a tarock deck by Argio Orell (1884-1942) as a commission from the Austrian-Lloyd Steamship Line. They were first produced in chromolithography by S. D. Modiano in Trieste, Italy, in c.1910. The cut down 52-card version shown here with large indices and titled ‘World Bridge’ has been published by Modiano since around 1950. The tax stamp on the Ace of Diamonds on this copy is dated 1953. The Queen of Spades holds a cigarette, perhaps because Modiano also manufactured cigarette paper.
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Rex's main interest was in card games, because, he said, they were cheap and easy to get hold of in his early days of collecting. He is well known for his extensive knowledge of Pepys games and his book is on the bookshelves of many.
His other interest was non-standard playing cards. He also had collections of sheet music, music CDs, models of London buses, London Transport timetables and maps and other objects that intrigued him.
Rex had a chequered career at school. He was expelled twice, on one occasion for smoking! Despite this he trained as a radio engineer and worked for the BBC in the World Service.
Later he moved into sales and worked for a firm that made all kinds of packaging, a job he enjoyed until his retirement. He became an expert on boxes and would always investigate those that held his cards. He could always recognize a box made for Pepys, which were the same as those of Alf Cooke’s Universal Playing Card Company, who printed the card games. This interest changed into an ability to make and mend boxes, which he did with great dexterity. He loved this kind of handicraft work.
His dexterity of hand and eye soon led to his making card games of his own design. He spent hours and hours carefully cutting them out and colouring them by hand.
Rock paintings and engravings of the San people, better known as the “Bushmen”.
Carte da Gioco Toscana souvenir deck, 2002.
Stylish monochrome designs by the Archinstudio of Guido Bolzani and Gian-Piero Spagnolo, printed by Masenghini, Bergamo, Italy, 1977.
Gó Succo fruit juice promotion deck featuring Walt Disney cartoons.
San Marino stamp designs combined with photographic views by La Fotometalgrafica Emiliana, c.1975.
This deck is named after Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu (1585-1642), a French Roman Catholic Clergyman and statesman, Chief Adviser to King Louis XIII, noted for the authoritarian measures he employed to maintain power.
Schweizer Trachten No.174 (Costumes Suisses) by Dondorf.
Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.
Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.
Portraits of a Lady by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.
Alice with artwork by Jesús Blasco, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.
Liberty playing cards designed by Antonella Castelli, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.
Il Circo illustrated by Jules Garnier, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2004.
Facsimile of Swiss William Tell deck from c.1870 published by Lo Scarabeo.
Baracca & Burattini puppetry deck printed by Dal Negro, 1998.
Sherlock Holmes deck with caricatures by Jeff Decker published by Gemaco Playing Card Co. 1989
Martin Mystère based on the comic book by Alfredo Castelli. The cards were designed by Giancarlo Alessandrini.
Sapra Studio Original playing cards featuring wild animals of S Africa, 1999.
‘Seefahrers’ maritime deck designed by Klaus Ensikat for Deutsche Seereederei Rostock, GDR.
Ukiyo-E deck for Sanyo Enterprise Co.
Year of the Child commemorative deck designed by Jhan Paulussen, 1979.
The Maya Deck produced by Stancraft for Hoyle, 1976.
‘Einhorn’ designed by Richard König, c.1986.
Facsimile of “Le Jeu de la Guerre” designed by Gilles de la Boissière in 1698.
Bicycle Steampunk playing cards with Gothic artwork by Anne Stokes, 2015.
“Renaissance” playing card designs by A I Charlemagne, 1862.
Bicycle Knights playing cards designed by Sam Hayles in 2018.
‘Friendly Felines’ playing cards designed by Azured Ox, 2017.
Gods of Egypt playing cards dedicated to the culture of Ancient Egypt.
Bicycle 808 Bourbon themed deck by US Playing Card Company 2017.
Alice in Wonderland playing cards designed by Sasha Dounaevski, 2018.
“Kaiserkarte” first published by Schneider & Co in 1895-1897 for the Imperial Court.
Age of Dragons by Anne Stokes, 2017.
Anne Stokes Collection playing cards, 2010.
The Deck of Cards by Andrew Jones Art, 1979.
My wife and I have recently commissioned a unique pair of stained glass windows for our home.
Chinese playing card makers have probably produced the widest variety of jokers of any single part of the world.
An unknown deck by Ken McCarthy, c.2018.
Les Grandes Figures de L’Histoire Bretonne
Avventure di Pinocchio by Dal Negro, based on Carlo Collodi’s famous 1883 novel “The Adventures of Pinocchio”.