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Published May 26, 2014 Updated July 31, 2022

Russian “Historical”

Russian “Historical extra fine No.204” Playing Cards depicting Ancient Dynasties, 1920s.

Russia Colour Printing Plant Dynasties Historic 1920
Historical extra fine No.204 box detail

Russian “Historical extra fine No.204”

This very famous Russian deck depicting four ancient dynasties was published in several editions in the 1920s, all printed by chromolithography in St. Petersburg (Leningrad in USSR) by the Colour Printing Plant. This edition was produced for export and has non-Russian indices.

After the USSR ended several small firms started to print playing cards, including re-prints of this deck.


Historical extra fine No.204 back

Right: the back design, red or blue. The complete pack contains 52 cards + Joker. The box has the title “Historical extra fine No.204”. A later edition was published without frames as “No.202”. The artist's name is not known. Information kindly provided by Alexander Arinushkina (Александр Аринушкин).

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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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