"Islenzk Spil"


This deck was designed by Tryggvi Magnusson and  printed in Altenburg. It was published in June 1930 for the first time as "Fornmannaspilin" (the Historical Icelandic Playing Cards). The deck shows the native Icelandic Vikings of some thousand years ago. Their names are given in the banner that seperates both sides of the design.
There have been several editions of the deck. The first one is the most elaborate: the coloured backs and the decorations of the case were high-lighted in gold and silver. In the first four editions the seven of Hearts bears the (copyright) inscription "÷ll rjettindi ßskilin Tryggvi Magnusson". After 1937 this was omitted, because someone else, Magnus Kjßlar, had bought the rights.

The first cards shown are from the deck that was published in the late 1930's. The ones below are from a later edition in the 1980's. Some of the differences between the two decks:
The older deck has white background. The later deck a yellow striped background.
The grey background in the middle is clearly outlined in the older deck, suggesting mountains. In the later deck this part has become more like a grey fog.
The banners on the aces are in b/w in the older deck.

In all there are 24 national figures on the courts 

King (t)  - V
Ýgo-Styrr was a chieftain of Borgarfj÷rdur, a killer. Mentioned in the Hei­arviga Saga.
King (b) - Egill Skallagrimsson was a chieftain from Borg, but also the greatest poet of the Time of the Sagas.

Queen (t)  - Unnur Dj˙p˙­ga, wife of war king Olafur the White, was one of the settlers of Iceland.
Queen (b) - Au
­ur VÚsteinsdˇttir was the wife of GÝsli S˙rsson and famous for her fidelity to her husband.

Jack (t)  - Grettir Asmundsson was one of the strongest men and greatest swimmer, but ill-fated in the Grettis Saga.
Jack (b) - G
Ýsli S˙rsson was a great hero, but also an outlaw for many years. His story is told in the GÝsli S˙rsson Saga.



King (t)  - Snorri Sturluson, member of the Sturlungs family, was not only a brilliant historian, but also a powerful chieftain.
King (b) - Hrafn H
Šngsson was the son of Ketill HŠngur, a decendant of the Norwegian earls. Hrafn was elected first law-speaker of Iceland in 930.

Queen (t)  - Helga Haraldsdˇttir, daughter of a Norwegian earl, was married to H÷r­ur GrÝmkelsson. When he was killed she swam with her two sons from Hˇlmi Island to the mainland, the Helga Swim.
Queen (b) - Helga the Fair was the daughter of Thorstein the White, son of Egill Skallagrimsson, and the most beautiful woman in the Time of the Sagas.

Jack (t)  - H÷r­ur GrÝmkelsson, a promising leader, was outlawed. He lived at Hˇlmi and became leader of the Hˇlmians. His story is told in the Har­ar Saga.
Jack (b) - Gunnlauger the Snake's Tongue is one of the pricipal characters in a love-story bearing his name, the Gunnlaug Saga, and is considered to have written some of the most beautiful love poems of the Time of the Sagas.

1st deck                                 ACES                               2nd deck


the other courts, jokers etc. are on the next page