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Published November 30, 2015 Updated March 20, 2023

La Suisse Historique Swiss Cantons souvenir

A masterpiece in the genre of tourist souvenir decks, “La Suisse Historique” Swiss Cantons souvenir designed by Melchior Annen in c.1920.

1920 Switzerland Müller & Cie Melchior Annen Chromolithography Fashion & Costume Scenic Souvenir Add to Collection

A masterpiece in the genre of tourist souvenir decks, “La Suisse Historique” Swiss Cantons souvenir was designed by Melchior Annen (1868-1954) and manufactured by J. Müller & Cie in c.1920. A different scene is shown at each end of the four aces, and different costumes on each end of the 12 court cards. Müller had pioneered the production of tourist souvenir decks in the mid-19th century. New machinery now allowed twelve-colour chromo-lithography printing which in turn permitted a wider assortment of playing cards to be produced. This led to more business worldwide and a more prestigious reputation for the firm which became one of the most reputable in Europe.

Back and box from “La Suisse Historique” Swiss Cantons souvenir designed by Melchior Annen in c.1920
“La Suisse Historique” Swiss Cantons souvenir designed by Melchior Annen in c.1920 “La Suisse Historique” Swiss Cantons souvenir designed by Melchior Annen in c.1920

Above: “La Suisse Historique” Swiss Cantons souvenir designed by Melchior Annen and manufactured by J. Müller & Cie in c.1920. (Click the images to reverse). Packs were sold with 36 cards (Piquet No.34) or 52 cards (Whist No.33) in standard or patience sizes and with several variations of back design.

In 1999 the Müller playing card factory was sold to Carta Mundi.

Note from Roddy Somerville

There was a much later edition of this pack, from the 1960s or 1970s. The indices are now in English and placed above, rather than below, the suit-signs. The suit-signs themselves have all been redrawn, rendering them less refined. The maker's name has disappeared from the Jack of Spades but the familiar Müller Joker is still present. Some of the detail in the faces and costumes has been lost in the more modern version. In total, the pack comprises 52 cards, 3 identical Jokers and 1 double-sided bridge score card - RS.

“La Suisse Historique” Swiss Cantons souvenir designed by Melchior Annen in c.1970
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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.


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