Exceptional set of extremely beautiful cards made by Il Meneghello c.1986 in a limited edition of 2,000, of which this is No. 1399, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Italian Empire – I assume for purposes of this deck a reference to the Empire created in 1936 after Italy succeeded in annexing Ethiopia in what is commonly known as the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. Each card has original artwork, but only the 4 Aces are different; the illustrations on the other cards are the same in all 4 suits. Three of the Aces depict historical figures of significance in relation to this Empire: then Emperor Haile Selassie, now worshipped as God incarnate among followers of the Rastafari movement; Vittorio Emanuele III, King of Italy, who claimed the throne of Ethiopia, a claim he renounced in 1943; and Rodolfo Graziani, Italian military leader, the object of a failed assassination attempt, who subsequently ordered the indiscriminate massacre of Ethiopian civilians, an event known today as “Yekatit 12.” The remaining Ace depicts a native Ethiopian war shield. In the corner of each card beneath the traditional French suit symbol is either a war shield or the Fascist logo, and the subject matter of each card aligns consistent with the side of the conflict thus emblemized.
The deck is a traditional Italian deck, complete at 40 cards (Ace through 7, Jacks, Queens, Kings). In addition, it has a card announcing the deck and confirming the number of this set within the limited edition run. The cards are square cornered and long, on uncoated stock, measuring 100mm x 60mm, and they come in the original packaging shown.
The cards and packaging materials are in excellent condition, “as new” or nearly so, except that there is a cataloguing sticker affixed to the back of the packaging box; I have not attempted to remove it.
There is also a mint and sealed deck of these cards for sale in this shop (T00003348).
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