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Russell “Culbertson’s Own Self-Teaching Playing Cards for Contract Bridge” w/ Explanatory Booklet, c.1932
Very good set of the early Ely Culbertson bridge teaching aid cards, made by Russell Playing Card Co. c.1932. The face of each card in the deck is crammed with information on how to bid in bridge, according to a bidding system introduced by Culbertson himself. It is important to remember that in or about 1930 contract bridge was replacing auction bridge as the bridge game of choice among most players, and during the next 10 years it would explode in popularity. This deck was instrumental in contributing to that surge in popularity.
The deck has all 52 suited cards; it never had a Joker, as jokers are not used in bridge, and these cards were made exclusively for bridge use. The cards were, and this deck is, accompanied by a 12-page booklet titled, “Correct Bids and Leads at Contract Bridge,” which describes itself as, “A supplementary outline to Self-Teaching Playing Cards.” The cards are bridge size, measuring 89mm x 57mm, and, along with the booklet, are housed in the original box.
The cards are in very good used condition, with edge wear and some evidence of handling, but relatively clean and without creases, tears or corner issues. The booklet is likewise in what I would call very good used condition, with some soiling/staining and wear, but intact and without issues – for 85-year old paper it has survived well. The box is in no better than good condition, if that, with tape holding it together and significant overall wear. However, I like old boxes and I think this one has “character.”
Reference: Dawson, The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, p.280, BW20
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