A TALE TO..............TELL

The decks in this exposition here are known among collectors in the Netherlands as Wilhelm Tell cards or Four Seasons cards. But in Hungary they are proud to call them "Magyar Kártya" or Hungarian cards. And apparently that's rightly so.

The pattern was designed and first produced by Jószef Schneider from Pest 1837. These cards are still popular in Hungary, but until today they have been manufactured and sold in Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany too. So it may be considered a standard pattern.
And just like in any standard pattern, variations and even "anomalies" can be found too.

We will start by showing you a regular standard deck of Hungarian cards, as they are sold up to this day in Hungary. The pattern uses the German suits and ranks. For those who are not familiar with them: the German suits are Hearts, Acorns, Bells and Leaves and the ranks are King, Ober (Over) and Unter (Under). In decks without indices the Ober and Unter can be distinguished by the place of the suit sign. When it's on the top, it's an Ober and when it's at the bottom of the design, it's an Unter. There's no regular ace in the decks, but a Dauss, which is actually a 2. In this pattern that card is illustrated with a scene, depicting one of the seasons. Hence the nickname of Four Seasons Cards. The decks can be found as 32 cards decks or 36 cards deck. The pips are numbered X - VII (10 - 7) in a 32 card deck. In a 36 card deck the VI (6) is added to each suit. The VI of Bells is called "Weli" and used as a joker in certain games.

The figures on the court cards have names, which refer to figures from Schiller's drama about Wilhelm (William) Tell, the legendary Swiss freedom fighter. In this pattern Tell himself is always depicted on the Ober of Acorns. The other names seem to be related to a certain card too, but there are differences. Other manufacturers may give a different name to a certain card, while the design of the figure remains the same as in the original pattern. But always the names belong to characters from the Wilhelm Tell saga.

In the Hungarian language the four seasons are called:  Téb (winter), Tavanz (spring), Nyar (summer) and Osz (fall).

There are a few distinguishing features of the Kings. They are all on a horse, wear a crown and have no name. They hold a scepter only and no other regalia. The absence of a name may be explained by the fact that there was no king in Schiller's Wilhelm Tell drama.

In the Hungarian cards the Obers represent Tell Wilmos (Acorns),  Gesler H. (Hearts), Stüszi vadasz (Bells) and Rudenz Ulrich (Leaves).
The Unters depict Harras Rudolf (Acorns), Kuoni pasztor (Hearts), Reding Itell (Bells) and Fürst Walter (Leaves).

It's obvious, that the names first give the family name and then the first name. It's probably the Hungarian way of name giving. In other countries manufacturers have stated the names with the first name first. In this Hungarian deck we find the name of Stuszi vadasz (Ober of Bells) and Kuoni pasztor (Unter on Hearts). The fact that the second word doesn't begin with a capital, is because that word is not their family name but reflects their profession. So it's Stüszi the overseer and Kuoni the shepherd (a citizen of Uri). 

click here to see the numbercards of this deck.


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