May 2017







It was a very slow month on eBay for us and the consequence of that was that we had to scrape the bottom of our playing cards money chest. But we managed to get a few new decks for our collection. One of the buys from eBay was from a seller who didn't offer international shipping. We had found a US friend willing to act as intermediary and had already paid for shipping within the US, but then the seller told us that eBay didn't allow him to chance country in their shipping program. So some extra shipping was paid, but the delay had gone up to almost a week by then and we anticipated that the deck would probably not arrive in time to enter this month's competition. It would definitely have been a winner, but now we had to choose between the other decks.
This Deck of the Month  came from a Dutch auction site. We had recognized the pattern immediately. It's known as "Cartes Suisses" (Swiss Cards). We already had 2 versions of this pattern, an antique and a modern one, and we were attracted to this new deck, because it seems to date from the middle of the period that separates them. The antique one probably dates from 1870/80 and the modern one is from around 1960. The seller of our addition had advertised the deck as being from around 1920 and made by Etabl. Brepols NV from Turnhout.

We'll only show a few cards from the other decks for comparison. If you want to see the complete antique deck: it was our Deck of the Month 04/2009, easy to find through the header above. We still haven't been able to attribute it to a specific maker, as we haven't seen a similar designed deck in our reference books. The documented Belgian versions all have slightly different designs. But we'll keep searching the net.

Only in the antique decks the Queens have the names of goddesses from the Roman mythology. The Kings and Jacks were nameless. In later editions, such as this, the names of the goddesses have also disappeared. The QS here above represents Juno, the divine protectress of the community and the Roman state. Often depicted together with a peacock.

Flora is the QH, a goddess of flowers and spring and of course here she wears flowers in her hair and holds a wrath of flowers in one hand.

In Belgium the pattern was called "Swiss Cards" because it was usually accompanied by a set of aces with Swiss scenes. However......
none of our three decks has illustrated aces.

Here below another trinity........

Diana is the Roman goddess of the hunt and of the moon. These two elements are represented. The bow and arrow are obvious references, just like the crescent shape on her head. Her hunting dog seems to connect the two, as he seems to be gazing at the moon, ready to start howling.

Venus is the QD. She's the goddess of love and beauty, but also of prosperity and victory. She's presented here with a swan (symbol of beauty) and an arrow (of victory). 

All the pip cards are numbered in 2 suit signs. The deck can be used for the Swiss game of Jass, which requires 36 cards.
Numbers in the suit signs is often used in Swiss made decks. It's possible that the Brepols made these decks for export to Switzerland.

Although it fits like a glove, the deck came in a wrapper, that suggests a different back design than that of the actual cards.
But the deck is described in Autenboer/Cremers 1 as coming in a wrapper with the same text as this wrapper has.

We too have seen this same kind of wrapper used for other decks with different backs.