Excellent and complete set of the gorgeous tarock cards made by Dondorf, generally known as Dondorf’s “Microscopique Tarock.” This set is Dondorf No. 245, with Arabic numerals on the major arcana, printed by a chromolithographic process. The date given is approximate, as No. 245 was made for nearly 30 years. Keller dates the set in the Cary Collection c.1900, while Fournier dates it generally to the 1st quarter of the 20th century.
The set is complete at 78 cards. The major arcana are double-ended with different scenes at each end of each card. The World of Playing Cards describes them as follows:
“The scenes portrayed at each end of these trump cards are marvels of miniature graphic artwork and printing, at which this manufacturer excelled. After trump no. 1 (Juggler) the next four cards depict arts and crafts treasures from the four countries (Germany, Russia, France & England), which are again represented as typical occupations in the next four cards (6-9), then four noble women and men (10 to 13), four cards with scenes from society: family, hunting, gallantry (14 to 17), and finally four cards (18 to 21) with courtly scenes.”
The court cards of the minor arcana portray royalty (named on the cards) of four countries: Russia (Spades), France (Hearts), Germany (Clubs), and the United Kingdom (Diamonds). The four Aces are double-ended scenic Aces with scenes (identified on the cards) from the same countries as the royalty in each suit. The cards are tarock size, measuring 108mm x 59mm. They come in the original box.
I believe that the condition of the cards should be described as excellent lightly used condition. There is modest edge wear and the cards have been handled. However, the cards are clean and there are no creases, tears or corner issues. It is a wonderful set of these rare and very beautiful cards. The box is in no better than fair condition, if that. The top flap and its side tabs are missing, the bottom flap is very worn, and there is general wear throughout to what remains of the box.
References: Fournier, Playing Cards II, Germanic Countries 142A; Keller, The Cary Collection of Playing Cards, GER 616.
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