Exceptional set of the cards published by Samuel Cupples Envelope Co. on the occasion of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, commonly known as the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The Fair was held to celebrate the Centennial of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Each card has a depiction of a building or person from the Fair. The Dawson/Hochman Encyclopedia describes them as photos, but I am not sure. Certainly the depictions of persons are photographs, but it is possible that the buildings are illustrations. In some ways, the settings of the buildings, including the people standing by them, seem too “staged” to be photos. If they are illustrations, they are beautifully detailed. The design of the backs is brilliant, showing the official seal of the Fair, a circle with Napoleon and Jefferson, placed “inside” an eagle that holds a globe in each claw, one globe showing North and South America, the other showing the remaining continents.
The deck has 52 suited cards, plus a Joker, plus an extra card. The cards are wide, measuring 89mm x 63mm, with gold gilt around, and come in the original telescope type box.
The cards are in pristine condition, remarkable for a deck this age, with all gold gilt intact; it is difficult to imagine a deck of these cards that is in better shape after 114 years. The box is another matter; it is in fair condition, heavily dependent on tape, with wear and some soiling.
Reference: Dawson, The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, p.250, SX21
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Samuel Cupples Envelope Co. “St. Louis World’s Fair (Louisiana Purchase Exposition)” Souvenir Playing Cards, c.1904