Offasons began producing cards on a small scale in 1965. The idea for the first Swedish deck from Offason was born in 1990. Offason AB produced everything from graphics to family games, so the next logical step was to redesign the Swedish deck of cards. Illustrator and designer Åke Arenhill produced 12 beautiful portraits with detailed clothing in 16th century style. The deck was named “Beau” which means beautiful in French.
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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.
Majas Alfabets Spel beautifully illustrated by Lena Andersson, 1980s.
Souvenir of Norway deck.
Kalevala playing cards by Sunish Chabba and Ishan Trivedi inspired by ancient Finnish mythology.
Moviestars from the golden age of cinema by Offason AB of Sweden, c.2000s.
“54 Views from Norway” souvenir playing cards published by Normanns Kunstforlag A/S, c.1990s.
Warburg’s Danske playing cards published by Aktieselskabet Emil Jensen, København, 1944.
“Warburg’s Skandinaviske Bridge Kort” published by Aktieselskabet Emil Jensen, København, c.1935.
VR-VISA playing cards published by VR Group, the state-owned railway company in Finland.
Facsimile edition of “Löjliga Spel Kort” (1825) illustrated playing cards from Sweden, showing scenes from Fredman‘s Epistles and Songs
Playing cards published by Jacob Bagges AB Stockholm, close copies of Dondorf designs.
Standard Danish playing cards made by Handa, Copenhagen.
‘Svenska Lloyd’ shipping company playing cards published by J.O. Öberg & Son, Eskilstuna, c.1955.
Swedish style pack by Åkerlund & Rausing, Stockholm, 1931-1937
Öbergs “Comedia” playing cards designed by Stig Lindberg from Sweden, c.1958
“Four Centuries” playing cards by Esselte Öbergs with court cards depicted as caricatures from different historical periods.
Olsen Spelkort Smygvänliga - Swedish pattern made by F.X. Schmid for Olsen
Offason AB “Beau” playing cards designed by Åke Arenhill from Sweden, c.1990.
‘Kille’, an old Swedish card game
The House of Vasa was the royal house of Sweden 1523–1654 and subsequent rulers have emphasized their Vasa descent through a female line
Non-standard playing cards produced by De la Rue & Co. (London), c.1930s
This pack has been inspired by the Requiem Mass, a Mass celebrated for the souls of one or more deceased persons. The dark style of illustrations features occult symbols and imagery such as horns, hearts, thorns and skulls and the typography reflects ancient latin scripts.
Salakuljettaja Smugglaren is the Scandinavian version of Pepys’ “Contraband” published by Förlag Bildkonst, 1958.
Single-figure provincial Paris pattern cards with traditional names on the courts manufactured in Copenhagen by P. Steinmann, c.1820.
cards from an early 'Gnav' game made by C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen c.1860
C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen 1852-85
An amazing difference can be seen between the early and the later Jacob Holmblad packs, covering a time span of only 17 years.
The Q♥ has a butterfly net in which she has caught four hearts. Many of Holmblad's designs were replaced or changed in different editions, but this design was not used again.
Holmblad ordered his earlier designs to be re-drawn and updated. Comparison of packs from this era show instances where one figure is replaced by another more imposing version.
“Luxus Bridgekort” was specially designed by Barbara MacDonald in a vibrant Art Deco style for Warburg of Denmark in c.1930, and printed by Universal Playing Card Co. Ltd (England).
Olle Hjortzberg (1872-1959) designed these playing cards for Granbergs AB in c.1924 in ‘Art Nouveau’ style.
Einar Nerman (1888–1983) was a talented Swedish artist born in Norrköping who designed playing cards during the 1920s.
“Grand Prix Champions” printed by Offason.
Holmblads No. 121 made by John Waddington, England, for Denmark
Playing cards from Finland. Finnish cards have a relatively short history, presumably because the country only finally broke loose from Russian influence in 1920.
Standard Swedish type playing cards manufactured by J.O. Öberg & Son, Eskilstuna, 1929.
Swedish cards have characteristics in common with their Scandinavian neighbours
In 1923 a competition was announced for a new Latvian pack. The winner of this competition was Stefans Bercs.
“Five 'o One” playing cards, a version of the Dondorf Rhineland pattern, manufactured by Universal Playing Card Co. Ltd for export to Scandinavia.
Universe No.100 playing cards made by The Universal Playing Card Co. Ltd, Leeds, for Scandinavian countries.
Danbrit playing cards by Alf Cooke, 1930s