Fine deck of “William Tell” cards made by Andrew Dougherty of New York c.1910, called “Hungarian No. 32.” It has German suits (bells, leaves, hearts, acorns), the “aces” depict the four seasons, and the ober and under cards are characters from Schiller’s play based upon the 15th century legend of Wilhelm Tell, who is supposed to have led the Swiss resistance against Austrian domination. Playing cards with these characters became popular around the time of the European Revolutions of 1848, probably because of parallels with the uprisings against the Habsburg Empire. Ironically, though William Tell is revered in Switzerland, the cards are unknown there, and are used mainly in Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania. There is also a deck of William Tell cards made by Fischer Henrik of Budapest for sale in this shop (T00001313), and Piatnik William Tell decks are not uncommon. It is interesting that Dougherty perceived a market for such a deck in the early 20th century here in the United States, although it should be noted that in the late 19th century, Dougherty apparently made a Skat deck, and USPC made German-suited cards – a Gaigel deck and a Skat deck. (See, Dawson, The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, pp.72, 94, 96; US14, US17).
The deck here for sale is complete at 32 cards (“Ace,” King, Ober, Under, 7-10). The cards are wide, measuring 88mm x 63mm. The words appearing on the cards (seasons, names of characters) are in German. The cards are in the original telescope type box, and there is a remnant of a U.S. tax stamp on the inner box.
The cards are in very good used condition with some light soiling and evidence of handling. One of the cards, the Under of Leaves (back separately pictured) has a crease running horizontally, more serious than the photograph captures. Otherwise, the cards are without issues. The box is in no better than good condition, if that, with significant tears developing to both the inner and outer sections.
Reference: Dawson, The Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, p.77, AD39.
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