October 2011


This  month there were two collectors bourses, a general one and one for playing card collectors. We had a stall on both occasions, but we did a better job in selling duplicates than in finding new decks. In the last weekend there was the monthly flea market in Utrecht, sometimes good for a exceptionally nice find, but this time there were only a few decks worth taking along. So our Deck of the Month had to come from the internet again.

Ebay brought us some nice decks, but this time the Dutch auction site brought us an exceptional find.
We've said before that this auction site is a bit like the Wild West and you're never sure to win an auction, even if you're the official high bidder. We had found a set of patience cards in the last week of September and had placed a bid on it. The seller wasn't very communicative and slow in answering, so it took more than two weeks of  nerve wrecking uncertainty before the transaction was finalized and another 4 days before we could hold the decks and enjoy the fine chromolithographic printing.
But it was worth waiting for and although this month's shortlist had some other antique decks on it, this one is without any doubt the best find and a worthy Deck of the Month.

Although the deck was published as a patience deck, the size is close to a regular size deck. The cards measure 85 mm in height and 54 mm in width. The deck was printed in  chromolithography by C.L. Wüst from Frankfurt a. Main, Germany, and published as "Patience Karten No. 240". The company logo, the star with the initials CLW in it, is on the Jack of Clubs, just like one of those (still) mysterious numbers, here 4010. 


The deck is mentioned in the Wüst catalogue by Martin Shaw & Paul Symons as "Monte Carlo playing cards", but there the export version with English indices and a different image on the backs is shown. This is the German version, with German indices and a single-tone floral back design with the maker's name.


The oval shape is not unique. Already in 1885 an oval deck was published by Twietmeyer. Still the Wüst company claimed patent rights on this shape from 1910 to 1913. So the deck was published about 1910, probably for the German market first. It was still in the Wüst pricelist in 1916.


The courts show fantasy royalty. What catches the eye is that the Kings in the black suits are depicted as strict and somewhat gloomy rulers, while in the red suits they look much gentler, even in armour. The Queens all look delightful. A remarkable feature is the white outline around the large suit symbols, only found on the courts. Probably done to make them more visible within the design. Another special feature (to be found in some other Wüst decks too) is the X as indicator for the 10's.


The deck consists of 52 cards. No joker was issued with this patience deck.


Thanks to Klaus Jurgen Schultz we now know that the D.R.G.M. on the box means "Deutsches Reichsgebrauchsmuster".
 It's a sort of patent right, probably the one that is referred to in the Wüst catalogue, and  protects the holder against imitation.