Sunday, 9 November 2014

"Playing cards 727" : International pattern IX

  "Playing cards" [international pattern]  , "727", 52 + 3

This deck of playing cards was made in Indonesia, . It is yet another example of the most far-reaching of all patterns of playing cards; the international pattern.

This deck is a rather ordinary deck. It was cheaply produced , and printed in only three colours ( compare and

However, perhaps the most attractive feature of the deck are it's ace of spades and back design. The Indonesians, lovers of pattern and ornament, have exercised their imagination into designing these two cards. The ace of spades is a baroque creation, a mass of acanthus and flowers forming the symbol of that suit. The back design is a equally elaborate pattern of tritons and mermaids, frolicking amongst vines.

Spades ( note ace)

The packaging also shows the ace of spades.


The back design. The overall structure resembles the backs of "bicycle" playing cards, but far more elaborate.

Sadly, the jokers are less ornate than the backs or ace.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Scenic aces 3- "Verona plastic coated speelkarten"

"Verona plastic coated speelkarten"- Anon, 52c + 3 jokers

If there is a deck of cards that can be called "international", this is it. Its courts are of the international, or Anglo-American pattern, but the indices are in Dutch. Likewise, the aces depict scenes from around the Netherlands.

It would be interesting to know what prompted the manufacturer of this deck to use the Anglo-American pattern for the courts whilst keeping the traditional scenic aces. Perhaps this was an exercise in economy ; The manufacturer could not get the plates for printing Dutch courts.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Dutch scenic aces / 2 - "Prima speelkaarten 1410"

"Prima speelkaarten 1410" ( Dutch pattern) , anon[?], 32c. + 6 of hearts

The present deck is yet another "scenic aces", but this time, the pictures depict scenes from the Netherlands, The scenes are exquisitely detailed line drawings, but unlike most examples, uncoloured.

Spades - Maasbruggen Rotterdam / Delftsche poort Rotterdam
Clubs - Station Groningen / Kasteel biljoen velp (GLD)
Hearts - Utrecht kromme N. Gracht / Gouda aan de gouwe
Diamonds  - Hoofdvaart assen / voorstreek Leeuwarden

The deck also possesses an extra card, a six of hearts. This brings the total number of cards to 33 instead of the usual 32. The extra card is included for use in the game of Pandoeren, ( see )

Spades and clubs
Diamonds and hearts. Note the queen of diamonds, who holds a bird in her hand.

The aces

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Dutch Scenic aces 1- "Bridge plastic coated

"Bridge/canasta plastic coated" [Scenic aces], anon, 52c + Joker ( incomplete?)
We present here an example of a particular genre of playing cards, the "scenic aces". These cards have been produced since the 19thc, and are particularly popular in the Netherlands and Belgium. What sets them apart is the depiction of landscapes on the Aces.

The court cards themselves are unremarkable, being of the standard "Belgian pattern" .

Observe how each side of the ace contains a different landscape.
Here are closeups of the Aces.
The landscapes here appear to be sorted out by Geographical region. England, is represented by Big Ben and Canterbury cathedral. Europe, by the Doge's palace and the Eiffel tower, Africa/Asia by the sphinx and Borobudur, and America by the Capitol and the statue of livery.

Note the depiction of the statue of liberty on the ace of spades. Compare it with the depiction in

Monday, 7 April 2014

Travelling chinese chess/xiangqi set

[Magnetic chess set], 31/32 pieces.
( For a more thorough description of a Chinese chess set, see

  The following magnetic Chinese chess set is extremely small, ( roughly 12x6 cm). This set is probably intended to be portable, as evidenced by it's small size, and the fact that the chessboard also doubles as a storage container for the chess pieces.  The pieces are magnetic, a necessity at this small scale.

A picture of the board. Note the missing green pawn. Unlike the "butterfly brand" chess set, this set uses red and green to distinguish the sides.
A closeup of the pieces. Unlike the butterfly brand set, the characters for the "cannon" pieces are written differently for opposing sides; for red, and for green. The characters for the "valet" pieces are also written differently, for red, and for green.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Turun Linna pelikortteja / Åbo slott spelkort (Piatnik)

Turun Linna pelikortteja / Åbo slott spelkort = "Turku castle" playing cards, Piatnik, 52c + 3

The present deck of playing cards is one of the more curious decks to emerge from Finland. The box proclaims, in two languages (Finnish and Swedish, respectively), "Turku castle playing cards". The court cards of this deck represent characters associated with the castle, which is also depicted on the backs of the cards.

. Note the court cards. Their indices are not made up of the initial letters of the courts, but numbers, viz: 11, 12 and 13. Perhaps the reason behind this is to accommodate for Finnish and Swedish speakers, who call the court cards by different names. Also note the font used for the indices; the court cards and aces use a more ornamental font than the pips, which use a simple sans-serif font.

The Joker ( top row, 1st from left) is Frans Hals'  Lute player. Also note the unusual shape of the cards; They are not perfectly rectangular, but are barrel shaped, bulging slightly in the middle.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Echigokobana (越後小花)

越後小花, ( Echigokobana), Ohishi tengudo , 48c.+Onifuda+ 3 extras

Much like European playing cards, There are also regional variants of the Japanese Hanafuda. One such pattern is called "Echigobana".  The present deck, however, is a smaller sized ( 4.5 x 3 cm)  edition of this pattern. There are small differences in the small and large editions of this pattern, but the small deck may perhaps be a sufficient introduction to this pattern as a whole.
 Although the basic structure of the deck remains the same, The Echigobana greatly differs from the standard pattern of hanafuda . Many of the animals and details of the cards are greatly simplified and stylized. I shall introduce the key features of this deck as we go along.
The suits of January(Top row) and February(bottom row)
One of the first things that distinguishes this pattern from the regular hanafuda is the prescence of heavy silver overprinting on the cards. In the case of the suit of January (top row), the silver overprints form the detail of the pine needles.
Also note the striped background on the suit of January.

The suits of March(T) and April(B)
The present pattern possesses a much more stylized, even crude draughtsmanship when compared with the standard pattern. For example, the cherry blossoms of Febuary (top), are represented as mere squiggles with a blob of red colour over them.

The suits of may (T.) and June ( B)
Note the limited palette of colurs used, viz; red, black and yellow. This is particularly evident in the suit of may ( top row). Normally the iris blossoms (which is the flower used for this suit) would be coloured blue, but here, the colour blue has been replaced by black. Also note the charmingly crude rendering of the peonies of the suit of June
The suits of  july (T) and August ( B)
Note the two "Junk " cards of the suit of August ( bottom r. 3rd & 4th from left) In standard hanafuda, the sky over the black "hills" is plain. In this deck , the sky is patterned with lines in one card, and with red "clouds" in another.
The onifuda ( top row, 1st from left), and the suits of september ( T) and October ( B)
Note the "ribbon" cards for the suit of October ( 3rd from left). In standard hanafuda decks, the ribbon is rendered blue. In this deck, however, the ribbon is coloured black.
The suits of November ( T) and December( B), along with an extra card ( bottom, 1st from left)
Note the suit of November ( top) The criss-crossed silver overprints suggest rain, which is apparently an alternative name for this suit. The extra card ( called so as I can think of no better name) depicts a strange figure , something like a cross between a wicker man and a space alien bearing a stick.
Here are three cards showing some of the main differences between this pattern and the Echigokobana. (The larger of the pairs of cards is the standard hanafuda)
1ST PAIR: The "rain-man" card  of the suit of November.
2nd pair : The "bird' in the suit of febuary. Note the lack of green in the Echigokobana.
3rd pair: The "boar" in the suit of July. In the Echigokobana, the boar looks more like a hedgehog.