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Mauger Centennial Exposition Playing Cards (51/52 + Joker), c.1876Mauger Centennial Exposition Playing Cards (51/52 + Joker), c.1876Mauger Centennial Exposition Playing Cards (51/52 + Joker), c.1876Mauger Centennial Exposition Playing Cards (51/52 + Joker), c.1876Mauger Centennial Exposition Playing Cards (51/52 + Joker), c.1876Mauger Centennial Exposition Playing Cards (51/52 + Joker), c.1876Mauger Centennial Exposition Playing Cards (51/52 + Joker), c.1876Mauger Centennial Exposition Playing Cards (51/52 + Joker), c.1876

Famous centennial playing cards made by Victor E. Mauger of New York c.1876 in connection with the International Centennial Exposition, the very first World's Fair, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Here is what Dawson/Hochman has to say about these cards in the chapter on Exposition and World's Fair cards:

"These are the first known American cards that commemorate a fair or exhibit. They have standard faces but are unique in two different ways. They are called 'Quadruplicates' because they feature four corner indices. This was unusual as four way indices, which became popular on European cards, were rarely used on U.S. cards. This was also very innovative as at that time indices were only beginning to be used on playing cards. The deck also features four different colored suits -- the spades are black; the hearts, red; the diamonds, yellow; and the clubs, blue. The Joker, used also in their standard cards . . ., shows George Fox, a popular entertainer of the day."

Because of its four different colored suits, the deck is also a "no-revoke" deck, and thus discussed by Dawson/Hochman in that chapter of the Encyclopedia as well. As one would expect, the cards are wide, measuring 90mm x 62mm. The deck has 51 of its 52 cards (5 of Clubs missing), plus the famous Mauger joker.

I have never seen another Mauger centennial deck, and I do not know how to rate or rank the condition of this one. Images of the fronts of all cards are provided, to assist the buyer in making that evaluation. There is some soiling or staining, usually mild, on most of the cards, and two of the cards (the Joker and the 8 of Clubs) have considerable soiling/staining. The backs are faded as if from sunlight, and the back of the 8 of Clubs (separately pictured) is stained. At the same time, the printing is still quite sharp on most of the card faces, including the marvelous court cards that show the different colors of the four suits to great effect. Even the Joker, soiled as it is, is stunning in its art work. The cards are free of creases, tears or other major damage.

This deck was found "hidden" in the compartment of a cribbage board/box that itself dates to the 1870s. On the one hand, this compartment served to protect the cards, much as a card box would do. On the other hand, the fact that the deck has been housed in this way for over 125 years is an obvious indication that its historical significance has gone unappreciated, and that no conscious attempt has been made to "preserve" it.

Reference: Dawson, The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, p.247 SX1, and p.285 NR2.

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Item ID: T000092

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Mauger Centennial Exposition Playing Cards (51/52 + Joker), c.1876

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Two For His Heels


Two For His Heels
Fredericksburg
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