Double deck of cards made for “Remy Martin,” the famous French cognac maker, housed in a soft plastic “pouch” that once was a self-contained bridge set. The original pencil is still present, but the set also had a score pad – there is a place for it in the pouch – and there is no score pad now. One of the two decks is still sealed, but the open deck includes an extra card with auction bridge scoring, and on the basis of that fact alone, I have dated the cards c.1930s. However, the striking Ace of Spades has a notation “Designed and Made in British Hong Kong,” and I have been unable to identify a card maker that was based in Hong Kong or had an active Hong Kong presence during the time when Auction Bridge was still being played. In addition, the court cards seem to me to be Arrco designs, although the Ace of Spades and Joker are not. In his book, “The Standard English Pattern,” Ken Lodge observes: “Arrco’s design, used from 1930 up to the present, has been copied in many Hong Kong packs exactly except for some minor differences.” Absent some evidence suggesting that Arrco itself had a manufacturing facility in Hong Kong – unlikely, I think – it probably makes the most sense to conclude that these cards are by a Hong Kong maker, copying Arrco designs. They are good quality.
The open deck has 52 cards, plus 1 Joker, plus the auction bridge scoring card noted. The backs of the two decks, both crimson red with the Remy Martin centaur, are very similar, but there are slight differences at the borders. The pouch is also Remy Martin red with the centaur. The cards are bridge size, measuring 88mm x 57mm.
As noted, one of the decks is still sealed. I do not think that the open deck has ever been used to play cards, but it is not “as new”; there is very light soiling throughout the deck that is visible in the pictures. The pencil is “as new” and the pouch is in very good condition with wear to the two metal snaps and to the Remy Martin centaur.
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