Extremely rare and complete set of cards printed by the famous Deberny type foundry, c.1855. The history of this foundry, originally called "Fonderie Laurent & Deberny and tracing its origins to Honoré de Balzac, is taken from a website on 19th century type foundries hosted by Mc Gill University and/or one of its faculty:
"Founderie Laurent & Deberny. French foundry which was started ca.1828 by Alexandre de Berny (1809-1881), who had been given the printing business of H. Balzac by his mother, Mme. de Berny, who was Balzac's first mistress. Balzac had bought the typesetting firm of Jean-François Laurent in 1827, and so, de Berny and Laurent worked together until 1840, when de Berny bought Laurent out in full. During this time, they made an extensive type library, and bought the wood-engraved letterstock of Pierre Durouchail. De Berny changed his business name to Deberny. In 1877, Deberny associated himself with Charles Tuleu, his illegitimate son (with farmer woman). Tuleu inherited the firm in 1881 upon the death of Alexandre, and ran it until 1914. He added many fine typefaces, including a series of ancient Latins, many scripts and neo-elzeviriennes, and a collection of foreign alphabets. In 1914, a childless Tuleu proposed the merger of his business with that of the family of his wife, Jeanne Peignot, the sister of Georges Peignot, who ran Peignot et Cie, a rival typefoundry. Jeanne refused to be associated with her brother and thus prevented any collaboration between the firms. Tuleu teamed up instead with an old school friend, Robert Girard. Ownership of the business passed to Girard in 1921 when Tuleu retired. The firm was renamed Girard et Cie. Talks were started with Peignot about a merger. Deberny & Peignot was incorporated on July 1, 1923. Charles Peignot now controlled Deberny's classic punches and matrices, the Peignot moderns, and two typefounding factories in Paris and Corneuve."
The cards here for sale are small and printed on thin stock. Though based upon the standard French pattern, the precise court card designs (one-sided) are probably unique to these cards, apparently engraved and/or designed by "Huchot" in Deberny's firm. The date of the cards is taken from the shield of the Jack of Clubs, but these cards are not reported in literature available to me, and it is possible that they were printed in years subsequent to the date on the shield.
The set is complete at 32 cards, and so it is described here as a piquet set of cards. But it should be emphasized that these "cards" are on very thin unfinished stock – what we might think of today as thin "construction paper" – beautiful and remarkably well preserved, but not suitable for playing, then or now. The black suits are printed in black ink, and the red suits in red ink; the backs are a kind of marbled greenish gray color, very different. The cards measure 59mm x 44mm, roughly the size of patience cards. They are housed in the original "wrapper" but it is and always has been a simple sleeve, open at both ends.
The condition of these cards is excellent; the cards shown are representative of the set. The wrapper is in very good condition. The word "Fragile" is printed on the back of the wrapper, and while I tend to think it has always been there, it may be a later addition.
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