Monday, 21 December 2015

"500s", Queen's Slipper : International pattern XI

"500s", Queen's slipper. 62c+1

 The following deck is used to play the game of "500". Although once popular, it appears to have died out almost entirely except in Australia.  The present deck of cards is made by what appears to be the only maker of playing cards in Australia, Queen's slipper. It appears that cheap, imported cards of appallingly low quality are far more commonly available.

  The feature that makes this particular deck unique are the additional pip cards. In red suits, the pips run from ace to 13, and in black suits, from ace to 12.

The court cards of this deck are fairly typical of the Anglo-American pattern. However, the faces and hands of the figures are printed in a pink tone. This is a rare feature, but certainty not unheard of. The Joker in the deck depicts a bird grabbing a serpent. The design is different from the jokers used by the maker in their standard decks.  The black suits have an 2 additional ranks a 11 and a 12. 
Here you see the red suits. While each of the black suits have two extra ranks, the red suits have three extra ranks; 11, 12 and 13. 
Although these cards are quite frequently encountered, it appears that the game is almost never played with the extra cards. In any case, the 11s, 12s and 13s are only used in the 6-player version of the game. The more typical 4-player version requires only 45 cards (Omitting the 2s, 3s and a pair of 4s). 

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Tell pattern , Bonaparte

(Tell pattern), Bonaparte, 32c +1

The following deck is made by Bonaparte, a Czechoslovakian company. It is based on the  "Tell pattern", but has several notable differences.
The first differnce is the lack of names. Most "tell pattern" decks name the court cards and aces. For example, the ace of leaves ( Top row, first card from left) is typically labelled ozsp/herbst , meaning autumn. 
The court cards in such decks are usually labelled, which is also absent in this deck. For example, the ober of acorns ( Bottom row, 3rd from left) is titled "William Tell". This is absent, but the card still depicts Tell-- The cross-bow he holds is Tell-ing! 

Apart from the differences above, the cards are quite similar to most patterns. The only differnce appears to be the use of more muted palate of colours. 
( compare  and )
 Comparisons between the present deck ( marked B) and a more typical deck, by Piatnik. 
(marked P)  The top row shows the court cards, and the differences are quite obvious. 
The makers seem to have removed all references to the William tell legend in the pip cards. For example, in the 8 of hearts, ( Bottom row, first pair from left), the Piatnik deck depicts a scene in the  William tell legend where he steers a boat across  a stormy lake. The Bonaparte deck shows a simple sailing ship. 
Although the scenes in the cards have been altered, the designers of the Bonaparte deck have decided to retain the theme of the cards. The 7 of bells ( First pair from left) depicts a parting couple, but the piatnik deck includes a child-- presumably Tell's son. The 7 of hearts ( second pair from left) instead of showing Gessler's death, shows a simple mounted figure. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


"Nolbu", 48c+6

When Korea was under Japanese occupation, the Koreans took a liking to the Japanese games played using hanafuda. The Koreans subsequently developed their own games, and at length, a native Korean pattern.  (If you are not already familiar with the hanafuda, this is a useful link: )
  The first major difference is the materials from which the decks are made. Japanese cards are made of thick cardboard, while the korean hwatu are made of stiff sheets of plastic.

 I have seen people who are ignorant of this fact lodge complaints on an online retailer, feeling cheated, as the Japanese hanafuda they bought were printed on paper instead of the expected plastic!

Nevertheless, despite being made of plastic, the hwatu retain a red border around the cards; an imitation of the japanese cards and their turnover edges.

 The suits of January and febuary. note the “character on the card with the crane, ( Top row, 1st from right) This character marks out certain valuable cards in the deck. 
The suits of  march. and april Note the " ribbon" card ( Top row, 2nd from right) . The inscription on this ribbon is in Korean. No-one seems to understand what it says.  

The Suits of May and June . One of the features of the Hwatu are the use of a light, almost turquoise blue. The standard Japanese cards use a deep purple instead of this color. .  

The Suits of  July and August. Another key feature of the hwatu is the deep black used. The Hanafuda use a grey colour instead of the black. It is thus possible to see the veins of the leaves, and blades of grass. This is impossible in the hwatu. Note the " moon"  card ( 2nd row, 1st from right). It contains the visage of nolbu, a character in a Korean folktale. 

 September. and october 

November and December. 

Here are the extra " joker" cards that are peculiar to the Korean game. They display figures relevant to the story of Nolbu and Heungbu. Nolbu (1) was a miser, who had a brother called Heungbu.
Their father died. Nolbu took all their father's wealth for himself,  and drove  Heungbu out of the luxurious house in which they had previously lived,  (2). Heungbu was forced to stay in a small hut, where a swallow that they saved (3) presented them with a seed. When it was planted, it grew gourds that were filed with treasure (4). 
Nolbu grew jealous, and forced a swallow to present him with a similar seed (5). When that was planted, the gourds that it grew were filled with demons, who tore him to pieces ( not shown ). It seems that the ingenious maker has used the elements of the story described to illustrate the various bonuses that the cards confer. Any translation is appreciated. 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

"Playing cards No. 7728"

"Playing cards No. 7728", anon,  52+2c

The present deck of cards is most interesting. It was found in a small haberdashery shop in Singapore, where it lay forgotten, perhaps for nearly 30 years ( judging by the pictures on the cards), until the author purchased it from the somewhat bewildered shopkeeper.

The cards are of Chinese make ( as the inscription on the box tells us). The box itself displays an image of a embracing couple. Garish rainbow lettering informs us that it contains playing cards:

The playing cards themselves display similar images. Each and every one of them contains a couple in some state of embrace, or doing some activity together.
The images may have been magazine illustrations, or film  posters. Note the four of spades, where what appears to be the title of a magazine on the top. Also note the seven of hearts. In a somewhat inexplicable scene, a woman and a devil are seen together. \
Some cards  have an unusual horizontal format, as seen in the six of diamonds & seven of spades. In a particularly inexplicable moment, a couple are seen buying CDs

More cards from the set. Note the four of hearts. Upon closer inspection, the reflection on the sunglasses of the couple reveal a series of bingo balls

All the cards, and the box are printed on relatively poor quality card. The present deck appears to be a novelty deck. However, that deck of cards was sold along with a few other decks of similar make, one of which was a Oral-B  advertising deck. 

. I would most happily accept any information about possible sources for the pictures on the present deck. 

Friday, 27 February 2015

"Flying wheel 868" : International pattern X

Again, another deck of the international pattern, also from Indonesia.
Note that the scanning process has rendered the yellow parts more orange than they actually are. 

 Note the curious green colour of the backs. This is despite the fact that the box they are in ( below) is blue in colour