April 2020


In our hemisphere spring has finally begun and the Netherlands are in an "intelligent" lockdown. But we're not smarter than the rest of the world. Our government is apparently not intelligent enough to get a sufficient supply of face masks. So all the main attractions to enjoy springtime are still closed. I miss enjoying the sun, while zipping wine on a terrace with friends. Others will miss the start of the festival season. And the tulips and flowers in the Keukenhof will never be seen live this spring.
However, there's no stopping Flora from doing her job......



I received this deck halfway April, but I knew that it would almost certainly become the deck to fill this spot. And I was right. Although I bought a few other decks, none of them came even close. Nor in quality, nor in design. The deck had been on our wish list for a considerable time, but it has not been on offer very often and when it was, then usually at a price that was too high for us. But I was lucky this time on the French eBay and won the deck at a price that was only € 1.58 under my max bid. A small miracle!

The deck was printed by Bernard Dondorf from Frankfurt, Germany, and is known under several names. It has been called "Spiel der 4 Kontinente" or "Cartes Illustrées", but it's usually referred to as the "Hausmann deck". Probably because this is one of the rare occasions that the artist behind the designs is known: Friedrich Karl Hausmann (1825 - 1886). Usually these artists remain unknown, however impressive their artwork on the cards may be. And then I don't even mention the nameless engravers who had to copy these designs on the stones. They were true craftsmen too.
It is known that Hausmann and Dondorf were befriended and that Dondorf had persuaded Hausmann to design banknotes and playing cards for him during the years that Hausmann had returned to Frankfurt, 1855 to 1864. The first edition of this deck is dated as 1858, but that's not carved in stone. It's well possible that it took Hausmann a good deal of time to create the 52 designs for this deck. The pip cards are done in b/w, but are pieces of art by themselves. Be sure to click the aces!

This deck here is from the first edition of the second variation, which is dated 1870 - 1875. In this edition the persons and scenes are named on the cards. The captions are in French and I've given them here below for the courts. In the second edition of this variation these names are no longer on the cards, but are mentioned in a separate leaflet that was added. That was probably done as a practical solution for the problem that -depending on the background- the captions are sometimes hard to read on the cards. Still, leaflets get lost or separated from the deck and then you have no clue who or what you're looking at. Well, the kings and queens are leaders and the jacks soldiers or warriors from each region.


A third nickname in German is "4 Erdteile" (4 parts of the earth) and that is probably the most correct name. Each suit presents a different part of the world. In the German leaflet the spades are described as "Afrika". However, courts and pips would represent the Middle East better. But maybe the maker had the Islamic states in Northern Africa in mind. Anyway, the rest of Africa is not represented in this suit.
The Janissaires (Janissaries in English) were an elite unit in the infantry of the Ottoman empire.


La Sultane            Janissaire


For the hearts suit the leaflet speaks of "Asien" (Asia), but the courts and pips only represent India. Other Asian countries like Japan, China and others are not represented in any scene on the pips.

Le Grand Mogol          

La Princesse Indienne

         Guerrier Hindou



mosquée le palanquin

départ pour la découverte

La Justice


The German description of the clubs suit is "Amerika", but in fact it's limited to South America and placed in the context of the discovery of that part of the world by Columbus for the King and Queen of Spain here below.

roi Ferdinand        

la reine Isabella



"Europa" is the name given in the leaflet for the diamonds suit. The depicted emperor doesn't look like he's from the 19th century, but rather from mediaeval times. The empire could be the Holy Roman Empire and that did have a single headed eagle as coat of arms, roughly between 1150 and 1350. There's just one problem: that eagle faced the opposite side. 





Name of maker and place in French.

Back design with
-here she is again-