In this Xpo we'll show 2 decks that deal with the human anatomy. It's quite an unusual topic for a deck and one that will probably not attract a large number of buyers. But the first two decks were originally not made or published with that intension.


The first deck, that we show here, consists of 36 cards and has the poetic English title "Skin him alive". It was printed and published by JAGA in the Czech Republic in 1994. On the box the title is mentioned in 4 languages and there were probably 4 explicative leaflets with the deck. Unfortunately our copy lacks the German and English versions, so we had only the French version to go by, as the Czech one was abacadabra to us. Besides the Czech title, which is beyond our scope too, the German title is "Zieh Ihm das fell ab" (Take his skin off) and in French "Ecorche-le" (Skin him).

The deck is a reproduction of a deck that came from the legacy of an important collector from Vienna. Probably only one deck of cards was made by a group of medical students. The idea was conceived in the dissection room of the Anatomical Institute in Prague. While waiting for their professor, the students passed their time with cutting and gluing parts of the sheets from the anatomical atlas, a pocket size edition with a limited number of depicted corpses. They added French suitcolours to the home-made cards and invented a special game for them, with special rules. Without going into details, the goal of the game was to get rid of the 4 cards that the players started with. As soon as that was achieved by one of the players, the cards of the other players were counted. The player who had the most cards left, had lost. The price to pay was........skinning the deceased person in preparation of the autopsy.

So the "Skin him" must not be understood as a way of defeating the opponents, but here it literally refers to the heavy, but unrewarding job that had to be done in order to start the autopsy lessons. Therefore the English title that the editor has given to this deck, is misleading. No one will be skinned "alive" in an autopsy room.

The deck has Czech indices, that are spelled out fully. "Eso" means ace and "Kral" means king, but we don't know the exact translation of the "Sversek" or "Spodek". Judging by the position of the suit symbol they will probably mean "Upper" and "Lower", in accordance with the design (and name) in certain German suited decks. In French suited decks they would be referred to as Queen and Jack.

And from the pip cards we learn how to count from 7 to 10 in Czech: sedma, osma, devitka, desitka!

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