Cards made by Grimaud for Presage International c.1986, celebrating the life and work of Oscar Wilde.
These cards are offered in three formats in this shop: (i) the double deck boxed set with accompanying book and special packaging listed here; (ii) a double deck set without the book or special packaging (see, T00003781); and (iii) a single deck (see, T00003782). All of the decks for sale in this shop are mint and sealed; however, the faces of the cards can be seen in several places on the internet, including the World Web Playing Card Museum.
The Grimaud Oscar Wilde cards were conceived by Wilde biographer Richard Ellman, and feature the superb artwork of R. Fanto. At his splendid website, Gunther Anderson has this to say about these cards:
“This is one of those friendly decks that comes with substantial explanatory notes. Of course, it has to, because unless you're a serious student of Wilde's work, all this becomes quickly opaque. The deck is the creation of R. Fanto . . . in 1986, with the close collaboration of Richard Ellmann, a biographer of both Wilde and Joyce. Fanto did all the artwork, and Ellmann did the conceptual design, determining the themes and images to be executed. The title card at left reads, ‘Richard Ellmann & R. Fanto / Present / The Oscar Wilde Playing Cards.’ The card backs . . . offer palm fronds and Wilde's initials.
“The cards themselves are black and white hand drawings with small splashes of color and gold illumination. . . . The artwork is of high quality, though stylized, and delivers a real feel for Wilde's life and the environment he lived and worked in. It doesn't try to present a narrative of either himself or his works, but rather it is the progressive development of themes, images and events encapsulated into the cards. The cards Ace through Ten form the chronological sequence, and the Jacks through Kings are the main forces in Wilde's life and work.
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“There is also a paper insert in the deck which offers a much more detailed explication of the deck, illuminating the parallels within the suits and across the numbers, and the progression of the deck from Aces to Kings. But it's long. Very long, for a simple introduction to the deck as I'm offering here. If you really want the deck, find it, buy it, cherish it. . . . .
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“The deck is worth sitting down to read as much as Wilde himself is. It's enlightening, fascinating, entertaining, a complex weaving of many threads into a tapestry of Wilde's life and work. Find it, buy it, cherish it.”
Each deck has 52 cards, plus 2 Jokers, plus 1 extra card introducing Wilde and the deck. This special limited edition is accompanied by a book that folds out like an accordion. It contains considerably more information about the cards than the paper insert mentioned by Anderson. The cards are bridge size, measuring 89mm x 58mm, with gold gilt at the corners, and, as already noted, come in a special beautiful hard box.
As noted, the cards are mint and sealed. The box and book are “as new.”
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