June 2009


It was nice to see some of the fellow collectors from Holland, Germany, England and Belgium again at the annual collectors meeting of the National Playing cards Museum in Turnhout in the beginning of this month. Miriam still didn't feel able to attend, so I went alone and of course I returned with some new decks for our collection. One of them was a rarely seen French deck with drawn portraits of French "vedettes", mostly actors and singers. That deck had been on our wish-list ever since we saw one during a vacation in France in the late 1990's. It was in a frame on the wall of a music store and probably not for sale, because when we asked a ridiculously high price was given. 

Another deck with movie stars had also been on our wish-list for some time now and this month we were able to add it to our collection. We had seen this deck for the first time in a marvelous book about Art Déco playing cards by Uwe Volker Segeth from Germany. We bought the deck on Ebay and were pleasantly surprised to find that the seller was that same Uwe Volker Segeth. Although we had bought a good number of decks on and off Ebay too and had plenty of decks to choose from this month, we still liked this one best.

The deck was printed by (Thomas) de la Rue & Co. from London, England, and published as a publicity deck for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio in 1933. It's known as "Film Star I".

Each of the court cards shows a different actor or actress from the MGM stable. Lionel Barrymore, Marion Davies and Buster Keaton are in the Spades suit, Robert Montgomery, Norma Shearer and Wallace Beery in the Hearts.

There's a similar deck, known as "Film Star II", with actors and actresses from the Paramount Studios, also published in 1933 (see Deck of the Month 09/2017). It has the same interesting type of design: a drawn body and background with a photo insert of the head. The Kings and Queens are crowned. The Jacks all have some sort of a hat, either as part of the photo or a drawn one.

John Barrymore, Joan Crawford and Jimmy Durante are on the Clubs and Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and Laurel & Hardy are on Diamonds. Of course the latter are a couple, so this is the only card that has a different drawing and picture on each side. The other cards have a strict double image.

The deck consists of 52 cards, 1 joker and a bridge score card.