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Seven Seas Maori Playing Cards

Published April 05, 2023 Updated April 05, 2023

A Gift from New Zealand

1980 New Zealand United Empire Box Company Advertising Ethnic & Indigenous Maori Tattoo Add to Collection

I recently obtained this unusual pack of playing cards with court cards depicting Maori people with decorative clothing and traditional tattoos on the faces. The cards are printed in black and red, and interestingly the court cards are simulating the English pattern in the way the courts are facing and where the objects are placed. The reverse has a Maori design in blue.
After doing some research it looks like the cards were printed by the United Empire Box Company (UEB) who operated in New Zealand from the mid 1960's until 1989. The ace of spades is the same one they used often together with black and red English pattern court cards. The suit signs and index type are also the same as used by UEB.

I have not been able to find any references for this deck of cards, so it was possibly especially designed and printed for the Seven Seas company which is an International Shipping company with offices in Auckland, New Zealand, although I cannot find a match for the logo on the box.
The pack consists of 52 cards plus 1 fierce looking Maori joker and 2 blank cards in a slightly unusual flip top box. I estimate it to have been made in the late 1970's or early 1980's.
If a reader has any more information about these cards I would love to hear about it.


Below: the front and side of the box.

All cards shown are from the collection of Paul Symons ©

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By Paul Symons

Member since February 01, 2016

I'm British but I have now lived in the Netherlands for more than 50 years and am still enjoying every minute of it. I started collecting playing cards in the early 1980’s after speaking with my neighbour who was at that time a croupier in a casino. I started with just collecting jokers, but that soon led me to complete packs of cards and eventually to specialising in old and antique playing cards, particularly those of C.L. Wüst of Frankfurt, Germany. I am presently the Dutch representative of the I.P.C.S. and the auctioneer at the IPCS conventions.


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