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Russian Slavic Costumes

Russian style “Slavic Costumes” playing cards first published in 1911

Russian “Slavic Costumes”

Traditional Russian style “Slavic Costumes” playing cards apparantly designed by artists from Dondorf in Germany and first published in 1911 by The Colour Printing Plant, St Petersburg (1817-2004). The deck is believed to be dedicated to the Imperial costumed ball of 1903 and the cards show characters from the Imperial family. The four aces show war and hunting symbols.

Traditional Russian style “Slavic Costumes” playing cards first published in 1911 by The Colour Printing Plant, St Petersburg

Above: Russian style “Slavic Costumes” playing cards, early chromolithographic edition, c.1911. The seal of the Imperial Foundling Hospital which received the profits from the sale of playing cards made by the Russian Playing Card Monopoly, can be seen on the ace of diamonds, and on the extra card is written: "Nourishes (feeds) selflessly" or "Nourishes without self-pity" which refers to the benevolence of the Playing Card factory in supporting the Imperial Orphanage. Images courtesy Valentin Krasavin (Валентин Красавин).

After the USSR ended and the Colour Printing Plant closed down, several local or foreign firms started to print playing cards, including numerous versions of this deck.

Traditional Russian style “Slavic Costumes” playing cards first published in 1911 by The Colour Printing Plant, St Petersburg

Above: Russian style “Slavic Costumes” playing cards, first published in 1911 and many times since then with various decorative, folkloric or pictorial back designs.

See: Patience version


Above: Piatnik’s faithful reprinting of the “Slavic Costumes” deck titled “Golden de Luxe Russian”, 1997

Revised version by KZWP-Trefl for King Cards, 2003

Above: redrawn version by KZWP-Trefl for King Cards with several variations in the designs, 2003. Western style German indices.

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

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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.


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