November 2008


We didn't know it then, but this month we found our "Deck of the Month" on the earliest possible date. There were only two events this month that we attended. The first one was the usual monthly flea market in Utrecht and the second one was the largest collectors fair in the Netherlands at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht. We were successful in finding new decks for our collection during both events and of course we found several good decks to trade with as well. 

Still, it wasn't difficult to make our choice this time, as the best find for us at the Jaarbeurs wasn't a deck of cards, but a Dondorf wholesale box for a dozen Patience no. 27 decks, unfortunately without the actual decks. But we had never seen such a box before and it now has a prominent place in one of our displays at home.

So this month's deck comes from the flea market . We found it in an old wooden playing card box, together with another antique deck and boxes with chips.



We have two similar patterned decks in our collection, which we have attributed to German makers. One is definitely by Frommann & Bunte, but about the other we cannot be certain. When we compared our new found deck with them, there were several differences to be noticed. Besides the fact that -although the general look of the designs is the same-  there are enough slight differences in the details to suggest a different maker. The most remarkable difference however was on the Jack of Hearts.


There's something wrong in the relation between the stem of the lute or guitar, on the left of the Jack's left hand and the part where the strings can be adjusted, to the right of this hand: it's too broad. We don't see this in our German decks. There the stem is more consistent in relation with the other part. 

But we found a picture of a similar discrepancy in a book about playing cards from Turnhout (Belgium) in a deck that was attributed there to Biermans and published as "Bongout 11 B". However the shown deck there came with different set of aces than ours.

Our aces show different scenes from the Netherlands. The scenes have a design similar to a set of aces that come from a deck by Latmann from Germany, but there's one different scene on the ace of diamonds from our deck. This shows the town of "Harlem", a scene that we have not yet seen on any of our other Dutch scenic aces. Although it is misspelled here, as the correct Dutch name is "Haarlem", it immediately shows the Dutch origin of the famous New York "Harlem" district!



So we are inclined to attribute this deck to a Belgian manufacturer, probably Leonard Biermans from Turnhout. Although it's difficult to compare our deck with the small b/w image in the book, it could well be a variation of the there mentioned "Bongout 11 B". And this would date the deck as being made around 1880/85.


So this month too we invite visitors to help out with determining maker and date........