February 2020

It's been a year now since I lost my Miriam and not a day has gone by without thinking of her. I miss her in all kinds of ways, but also at moments like this. Usually we easily got to an agreement about which deck to show here, but occasionally there were long discussions too. Now I can pick whatever I want, but I always try to keep her taste in mind too.
And she would have agreed on this one...... easily!


The deck was printed by the Wert Papier Druck from Riga and published in Latvia in 1918. It's known as "Lettische Trachten" (Latvian Costumes). The cards were lithographically printed in three colours: red, black and gray. The designer is unknown, but his creations can be called unusual. There's an Art Deco influence in the shape of the dividing line of flowers, plants and apples on the queens and jacks. The Kings are easily recognizable. Not only because they have a crown at their side, but rather by the background of red and gray spades, which looks a bit like torn wallpaper.

But besides the crown the kings show a ribbon with the name and the coat of arms of that Baltic region in ancient times. I have no idea if the portrayed figures show actual dukes or other leaders of these regions, but the king of spades represents Curland. In English this region along the shores of the Baltic Sea is called Courland. It was a Duchy for more than 200 years until the end of the 18th century and it's possible that the king is represented by one of the Dukes.



Riga here stands for the Bishopric of Riga, founded in 1202 by Albert (of Buxhoevenden), a canon in Bremen, who was appointed as bishop of Livonia by his uncle, the archbishop of Hamburg and Bremen. The presented coat of arms of Riga with the crown above the cross and keys was first used between 1660 and 1721. The crown symbolizes the subservience to the bishop.

There's a faint tax stamp on the ace of hearts. According to Peter Endebrock's site it says in German "Kaiserliches Gouvernement Riga". The rest is too blurred to read. This German government was established in Latvia in 1917/18. Apparently the ace of diamonds is important in Latvian decks, as it's the only embellished ace (like the ace of spades in the English pattern).

Livland is known in English by the Latin name Livonia. It's named after the Livonians, who lived on the shores of present-day Latvia and in the 13th century extended to most of present-day Estonia and Latvia. Courland also was a part of Livonia in the 16th century.

Estland (Estonia) was a Duchy between 1219 and 1346, also known as Danish Estonia. So the represented coat of arms, which has the 3 stretched lions of the Danish coat of arms, probably refers to that period.


The deck consists of 52 cards. Apparently no joker was ever issued with this deck.

In 2004 a reprint of this deck was published by Orija. That deck has 2 jokers and an extra card. I don't know this deck, so I can't judge the quality of the used card. It seems easy to throw away the jokers and extra card and present it as the original deck. However, I'm certain that this here is the original deck. According to his info the previous owner had bought it in 1997 and I'm almost certain that he has won this deck in the auction of Dr. Max Segeth's Art Deco and Jugendstil decks in that year. It fits the description like a glove, as it has the same leather holder with score-pad and pencil, that is described in the auction catalogue.