August 2010

 

It was a hectic month again and and a rainy one too. So Joop did only one flea market this time and that was his usual one in Utrecht. But it wasn't a disappointing visit, as he -among some other decks- brought home a nice doubledeck, that was made by C.L. Wst around 1890. Somehow the Utrecht flea market has surprising finds every once in a while and that's the reason that Joop gets up very early once a month to go there.
There were still no collectors meetings, so again our main supplier of new decks was Ebay. We bought a nice modern ZZ Top deck there, but one of the other decks that we bought on Ebay was a bit special for us.
We had seen an identical deck on Ebay once before, but were outbid then. Last month we were happy to win it and it was an even better version (mint, in the original wrapper) than the previous one. Although the deck has a standard pattern, this "Trente et Quarante" pattern isn't often seen, so we're happy to share this deck with you as "Deck of the Month".......here and now........

The Monte Carlo Casino

The deck was printed by B.P. Grimaud from Paris, as is mentioned on the Jack of Spades, and it was published as " No 147 Cercle des Etrangers Monte Carlo". Monte Carlo is the name of a municipality in the Kingdom of Monaco, and was founded in 1866.

The area was named after Charles III of Monaco and was created to establish a sea-bathing facility for treatment of various diseases and to build a  casino. The installation of a railway in 1868 brought people from all over Europe to this famous casino.

The pattern of the deck is known as Trente et Quarante (Thirty and Forty). This is also the name of a game, which is still being played in European casino's and one of the two games played at the Monte Carlo casino, roulette being the other. Of course nowadays poker tournaments are held in the Monte Carlo casino too. The game of Trente et Quarante, sometimes also referred to as "Rouge et Noir" (Red and Black), is a simple gambling game, which has an average return percentage of 98 for the players. The game dates from the 17th century and is of French origin.

The pattern has some distinguishing features. Although the game and therefore the pattern is of French origin, there's hardly any resemblance with the official French pattern. The King of Spades may hold a harp and the King of Diamonds may be portrayed in profile, the double image is divided horizontally instead of diagonally. All the Jacks hold a straight-up standing halberd. Easily distinguishing for the pattern is the tilted shield on the Jack of Clubs. On this shield we find the name of the designer of this pattern: F. Simon.

It seems that the name of the maker is always mentioned on the Jack of Spades and a Trente et Quarante deck has plain aces. There's a double outline on all the cards, not only on the courts and aces.

 

For us the attraction of this deck was not only the pattern, but also the remarkable design of the backs. It's a blank back with a simple line drawing (in purple) of a man, ready to throw a bomb. Judging by his shoes, it's not a soldier. So we're probably looking at a French revolutionary type.

It's hard to put a date to the deck. The seller on Ebay was American and he estimated the deck as being from around 1940. However, the lithographic printing suggests a somewhat older date. We've tried to find out more about the tax band on the wrapper, but haven't been able to tie it  to a date or period (yet). So once again we ask our visitors to help us out with further information.

In September 2013 we found a Trente et Quarante deck during the IPCS convention in La Tour de Peilz with a equally simple line drawing, but here with a different French revolutionary type on the back.....

 

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