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Dondorf Playing Cards, “Luxus-Spielkarte Vier-Erdteile” (“Luxury Playing Cards Four Continents”) No. 207, Friedrich Karl Hausmann Designs, c.1870s
Excellent deck of Dondorf’s extraordinary “Vier Erdteile” (“Four Continents”) playing cards, featuring designs by Friedrich Karl Hausmann. This is an early edition, with square corners and backs that portray an elegant woman standing on an airborne globe. The Keller catalogue of the Cary collection dates a very similar deck to 1885, but from the information give in the Cary description, there are slight differences that suggest that the deck here for sale dates even earlier, and I have dated it to the 1870s.
There is stunning art work on each card. The Aces and court cards are gorgeous color lithography, and the suit signs on the pip cards are placed against a succession of exotic scenes muted in gray. Each suit celebrates a particular continent: Clubs show the discovery of America, with Fernando and Isabella as the King and Queen; Spades show Africa; Hearts show Asia; and Diamonds show Europe. The deck is complete at 52 cards. They are large, measuring 95mm x 64mm. There is no box.
The cards are in excellent condition, except for what appears to be light pink ink transfer at the very edges of the faces of many of the cards. In addition there is a very faint crease in the upper right section of the 3 of Hearts (separately pictured). It is barely visible, but it is there. However, these are minor quibbles. This is a beautiful deck of cards.
References: Keller, The Cary Collection of Playing Cards, Germany 516; and, for a later edition of these cards: Fournier, Playing Cards, Germanic Countries 181.
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Two For His Heels, Fredericksburg, VA
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