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About Karl Gerich

About Karl Gerich.

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

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator 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.

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1980 Pentacards


A five-suited set of playing cards published by Fleet and Case Games Ltd., Rainham, Kent, UK, c.1980.

1960 Souvenir Views of Scotland Playing Cards

Souvenir Views of Scotland Playing Cards

52 selected views of Scotland by De La Rue (Waddingtons) for GlenAlan Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, c.1960s.

1911 The Jovial Cards

The Jovial Cards

Publicity items for a group of entertainers, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK, 1911.

1930 Waddington’s “Silkette” Playing Cards

Waddington’s “Silkette” Playing Cards

Cards made by John Waddington Ltd. for the Madras Club, Chennai (formerly Madras), India, c.1930.

2002 Highland Hospice

Highland Hospice

54 different personalities from the city of Inverness published by the Highland Hospice.

2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme covers from 1956 to 2016 published by Winning Moves UK Ltd.

2010 Cape Wrath

Cape Wrath

Images from the Ministry of Defence Cape Wrath Training Centre, Sutherland, Scotland. Published 2010.

2014 Vesalius Anatomy Card Game

Vesalius Anatomy Card Game

Celebrating the work of Andreas Vesalius in the quincentenary year of his birth.

2005 Team GB

Team GB

Great Britains’s Olympic gold medallists from 1964 to 2004 published by the British Olympic Association.

2015 David Kindersley Centenary

David Kindersley Centenary

Celebration of the work of David Kindersley, stone letter-carver and typeface designer. Published by the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, Cambridge, UK, 2015.

2003 Official England Rugby Playing Cards

Official England Rugby Playing Cards

Pack celebrating the rugby world champions of 2003. Produced by MMcardz.

1705 Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.

Hall & Son

Hall & Son

Hall & Son

1850 Fortune-Telling Cards

Fortune-Telling Cards

Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.

1850 Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards by Josh. Reynolds & Sons, circa 1850.

1824 Myriorama


Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.

1870 Transformation Cards for Christmas

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.

PLAYING CARDS: A Secret History

PLAYING CARDS: A Secret History

PLAYING CARDS: A Secret History



Sergeant-Major card game devised by W.G.Smith

Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

We are deeply saddened by news of the passing of Anthony Rex Pitts (1940-2021).

Pepys Games

Pepys Games

The Story of Pepys Games by Rex Pitts

J. W. Spear and Sons

J. W. Spear and Sons

Jacob Wolfe Spear founded his company manufacturing fancy goods in 1879 near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany

Chad Valley Co. Ltd

Chad Valley Co. Ltd

Chad Valley Co. Ltd (incorporating Johnson Brothers (Harborne) Ltd, the long-established UK brand bought by Woolworths in 1988 and now sold at Argos.

Multum in Parvo Co., Ltd

Multum in Parvo Co., Ltd

Multum in Parvo published a range of indoor games during the period from 1884-1927.

1954 Ariel Productions Ltd

Ariel Productions Ltd

The founder of Ariel Productions, Philip Marx, was a prolific publisher of children’s books and comics towards the end of and just after the Second World War.

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games MFG Co., Ltd, London S.E.11

Crazy People

Crazy People

Crazy People children’s card game illustrated by caricaturist and graphic artist Walter Trier, c.1950.

1912 Panko


Panko (Votes for Women) suffragette card game published by Peter Gurney Ltd, c.1912.



Anonymous Snap game, 1930s.

Panto People

Panto People

Panto People published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.



Hats-Off! miniature card game published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

1930 Zoo-Boots


Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

XIXth Century

XIXth Century

The XIXth Century published by John Jaques & Son, c.1875.

The ‘Rinker’ Snap

The ‘Rinker’ Snap

The ‘Rinker’ highly amusing snap game, c.1910.

Round the World Happy Families

Round the World Happy Families

Round the World Happy Families by Chiefton Products Ltd of Bristol, c.1950s.

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Toys Animal Families, c.1970.

French for Fun

French for Fun

French for Fun instructive card game published by John Jaques & Son Ltd., c.1930s

Counties of Britain

Counties of Britain

Counties of Britain by John Jaques & Son Ltd. c.1930.

1930 Radio Banker

Radio Banker

Radio Banker by John Waddington Ltd for Marconiphone Co Ltd.



Jigstar film star card game by Murphy Games Ltd, 1936.