The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published July 03, 1996 Updated January 21, 2023

About Karl Gerich (1956-2016)

About Karl Alexander Gerich, 23rd April 1956 — 4th January 2016

United Kingdom Gerich Karl Karl Gerich On the Cards Add to Collection

Karl Gerich  on the cards…

KARL GERICH'S DESIGNS, like music or poetry, show where the artist finds beauty… in nature, in women, in abstract shapes. Karl has also been inspired by playing card designs of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and has re-worked these in his own individualistic style.

Karl assumes the role of artist, designer and the man behind the machine (craftsman) in that he performs all the stages of production himself.

Although playing cards in general rarely rise above the level of industrial art - a minor craft - the richness of the goldsmith or illuminator are often imitated on paper and Karl’s skill as an engraver can amaze and beguile us.

In general Karl leans towards humanity in his designs, and he gives a distinctive gothic flavour to his subjects. He reveals a feeling for natural beauty and artistic rhythmical movement.

But what unconscious forces or romantic ideals inspire him? What is the lyricism which comes through the playing card designs?

We see chimera monsters, mermaids and satyrs, phoenixes, playful lovers and cupids, sea dragons and serpents, the mystique of orientalism, tricksters and jesters…

The variety of design sources brings a certain originality into Karl’s work, a mixture of individuality, grotesqueness and quaintness, which suits the medium of the playing card.

The romance of distant lands finds expression in the exotic blend of Turkish and Hindu fantasies (Patience Indien No.16*, Cartes Turques No.18, Cartes Indiennes No.35), whilst the theme of sea-borne trade and adventure, suggesting contact with remote civilisations, is again carried further (Four Corners No.10, Triton No.31 and The Dragon).

The simple pleasures are abundantly reflected in his designs involving women holding flowers, fans or birds, and sometimes the theme of innocent temptation recurs, perhaps suggesting that fate is always ready to recruit new souls. By looking at these playing card designs we see into the soul of the designer… with it’s torments, illusions, dreams and hopes.

No 10: The Four Corners (1984)

Above: No.10 'Four Corners' (1984). Part of uncut sheet, printed from copperplate etching on one sheet of Daler Ford cover paper, on the reverse a pink wash. Hand coloured, pips added by stencil.

This is a double-ended copy of Dondorf's "Four Corners of the Earth" pack of 1870. The courts show exotically dressed figures from around the world. Each card measures: 75 x 44 mm.

No 18: Cartes Turques (1991)

Above: No.18 'Cartes Turques'. Partially coloured uncut proof sheet, printed from copperplate etching onto goatskin parchment paper. Dated 12/85 and 5/86.

No 28: Mayday (1989)

Above: Queen of Diamonds and a Joker from Karl's pack No.28 'Mayday' (1989). Printed from copperplate etching on Daler Ford cover paper. Hand coloured.

Each card measures: 72 x 40 mm.

Karl Gerich 4/9/92
avatar
1,436 Articles

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


Related Articles

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

1875 Lend Me Five Shillings

Lend Me Five Shillings

or “Her Majesty’s Privy Purse” - a merry round-the-table game published by D. Ogilvy.

1875 Laughing Made Easy

Laughing Made Easy

a Victorian card game published by D. Ogilvy.

2002 Classic Card Games for Kids

Classic Card Games for Kids

A boxed set of playing cards, Happy Families and an alphabet pack with rules for 22 games.

1904 So-Lah – A Game of Music

So-Lah – A Game of Music

An early 20th century domino-type musical card game by Goodall.

2018 Marmite

Marmite

Fifty-Four images celebrating a UK savoury spread, that has been around one hundred and twenty two y...

1877 Word Making and Word Taking

Word Making and Word Taking

How crossword and spelling games became popular.

2021 Film Noir

Film Noir

A deck of 55 cards, celebrating hard boiled heroes, wise-cracking women, mean streets, guns and gums...

2016 Science Fiction

Science Fiction

A deck of 55 cards, celebrating a time when Science Fiction truly was, Science Fiction.

2004 The Beatles playing cards

The Beatles playing cards

Two packs featuring photos of The Beatles issued by the same publisher in 2004 and 2005.

1991 Costume Playing Cards

Costume Playing Cards

Four centuries of costumes from the Costume Court at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

2020 Commoners playing cards

Commoners playing cards

Created by Ian Cumpstey dedicated to the common land and the countryside.

2019 Liber Ludorum

Liber Ludorum

Liber Ludorum playing cards created by Ian Cumpstey in the insular style, United Kingdom, 2019.

2018 Pike and Clover playing cards

Pike and Clover playing cards

Pike and Clover playing cards created by Ian Cumpstey, Cumbria, UK, 2018.

2023 Inglewood Hunting Deck

Inglewood Hunting Deck

Inglewood Hunting Deck created by Ian Cumpstey, United Kingdom, 2023.

2010 Pin-Ups

Pin-Ups

A deck of 55 cards celebrating a golden age of cheeky, naughty, bold and curvy ladies in film.

2008 Classic Movie Posters

Classic Movie Posters

A deck of 55 cards presenting vintage classic movies and their stars.

2014 That’s Entertainment

That’s Entertainment

A deck of 55 cards celebrating 20th Century vaudeville, musicals and cabaret.

1981 British Monarchs

British Monarchs

Commemorating the royal wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer on the 29th

2005 Rock & Pop Legends

Rock & Pop Legends

Stunning photos of a selection of US and UK music artists.

2004 The Beatles • Yellow Submarine

The Beatles • Yellow Submarine

A colourful deck celebrating the 1968 animated feature film based on the Lennon/McCartney song of th...

1999 Dutch Court playing cards

Dutch Court playing cards

Games & Print Services’ version of the Dutch pattern.

2013 Past Masters’ Association Presentation Pack

Past Masters’ Association Presentation Pack

The Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards Past Masters’ Association Presentation Pack, 2013....

The Search for New Games in the late 19<sup>th</sup> century

The Search for New Games in the late 19th century

A few new games survived and are still around today; most came and went and are only witnessed in th...

1904 Miniature Card Dominoes

Miniature Card Dominoes

A miniature set of Goodall domino cards (5.9 x 3.5 cms) still in perfect condition.

1875 T. Drayton & Son

T. Drayton & Son

Bezique and Whist boxed sets by T. Drayton & Son, London, c.1875.

2011 Colour doodle deck

Colour doodle deck

“1952-2002 commemorative deck” customised with doodles by an uncredited artist, UK, 2011.

2020 Alice in Wonderland: we’re all mad here

Alice in Wonderland: we’re all mad here

Alice in Wonderland themed playing cards, UK, 2020.

2023 Wren 300 playing cards

Wren 300 playing cards

Papercuts by Chloe Campbell of the 52 Wren churches in the City of London.

2023 Marlow playing cards

Marlow playing cards

Visitor attractions and businesses to be found in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

2010 Playing Politics 2010

Playing Politics 2010

“Playing Politics ’10: With no expenses spared” featuring caricatures by Oliver Preston, published b...

1992 Playing Politics ’92: Pack of lies

Playing Politics ’92: Pack of lies

Playing Politics ’92: Pack of lies with caricatures by Grant Robertson, UK.

2005 B-Deck

B-Deck

“B-Deck” scurrilous playing cards poking fun at a former UK prime minister.

1967 Winstanley Geographical cards

Winstanley Geographical cards

Facsimile of Winstanley’s Geographical cards produced by Harold & Virginia Wayland, 1967.

1971 Meal Tub Plot

Meal Tub Plot

Meal Tub Plot playing cards [facsimile] with 17th century sketches by Francis Barlow.

Golf playing cards

Golf playing cards

Golf playing cards published by Marks & Spencer, UK.

2011 Great inventions playing cards

Great inventions playing cards

Great inventions playing cards designed by Gary Wyatt, United Kingdom, 2011.

1980 Christmas 1980 playing cards

Christmas 1980 playing cards

Festive courts on a Waddingtons pack designed to celebrate Christmas 1980.

Gone to Pot: Gardener’s playing cards

Gone to Pot: Gardener’s playing cards

‘Gone to Pot’: special playing cards for keen gardeners, United Kingdom.

2023 The Tarot Strikes Back

The Tarot Strikes Back

Roy Huteson Stewart's The Tarot Strikes Back combines Star Wars with Rider-Waite tarot imagery.

Tottering-by-Gently

Tottering-by-Gently

‘Tottering-by-Gently’ playing cards with cartoons by Annie Tempest.