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Double Deck Dondorf Jass Playing Cards, “Baronesse Pattern,” J. DeMuth (Berlin) Leather Case w/ Silver Clasp, S. Mordan Silver Mechanical Pencil, c.1890s
Beautiful double deck of cards made by Dondorf, “Baronesse” pattern, for jass and other card games using a 36-card deck. The decks are housed in a handsome, custom leather case made by J. DeMuth of Berlin. Also housed with the cards in the leather case is a score pad and a silver mechanical pencil made by S. Mordan & Co. The cards have no indices, and the tax stamps on the Aces of Hearts date the cards to the period 1889-1903.
Each deck is complete at 36 cards – Ace and 6-King in each suit. The cards are large, measuring 92mm by 61mm, with gold gilt all around. Inside the DeMuth case there are half sample cards in the compartments where the cards are to be placed.
The DeMuth case has a hallmarked silver clasp (I cannot make out the marks) and measures 5.1” by 4.0” when closed. The leather is supple. The DeMuth name is embossed at the underside of the flap.
Mechanical pencils were invented in Britain in 1822 by Sampson Mordan and Gabriel Riddle, and Mordan’s company, S. Mordan & Co., made gold and silver pencils until World War II, when the Mordan factory was bombed. S. Mordan pencils are much coveted by collectors, and it is interesting that these German cards and case are accompanied by this English product.
The cards are in “as new” condition, with the gold gilt completely intact. The case has some scuffing on the outside, especially at the corners, but is otherwise in excellent condition. The silver clasp works perfectly. The Mordan pencil has its lead and writes easily. However, I have turned the pencil at the apparent point of rotation, and the lead does not disappear. This is an elegant and extremely handsome item, in superb condition for its age.
Reference: Fournier, Playing Cards, Germanic Countries 184-185, 187.
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