This month began with the IPCS convention in Malmö, Sweden. Joop went
there and it was good to see the familiar faces and friends again. The
convention bag was filled with an outstanding catalogue about Scandinavian
playing cards until 1950 and 3 decks of cards, of which one was a never before
published antique deck (in repro of course). The offer during the trading
sessions was of high quality, just like the decks in the live auction,
which were sold for prices between 20 and 3000 euro! Unfortunately funds were
limited, so Joop only brought back "one-and-a-half" deck, as he called
After his return the weather here wasn't great, with lots of rainy days, but that changed on the 24th. Since then we have a late summer here. So we decided to go the Bruges, Belgium, for the outdoor flea market, which is held 3 times during the summer period. It was nice to walk around in the early morning sun, browsing through the displayed stuff, on the ground or on stalls. Although we had some good finds here in the past, this time we only found some modern non-standard decks. But a good, typical Belgian lunch with eel, outside on a terrace overlooking a good part of the market, made up for that.
We didn't have much luck on Ebay and the Dutch auction site didn't offer any interesting decks, so there was a very short shortlist this month and what can we say...... the "half" deck won!
It's a patience sized deck that was printed in chromolithography by Granbergs Aktienbolag (GAB) from Stockholm and published as "Patiencekort No 121" between 1925 and 1937. We already had a version of the regular sized decks, which were produced since 1924, but as you can see there's a remarkable difference in the design of the Jacks.
The deck has plain aces and Swedish indices. The back has the same design as the regular sized cards,
but it's the most common of 4 different designs.
< A Swedish taxstamp.
The deck was designed by Olle Hjortsberg (1872 - 1959), who was a painter and professor at the Art Academy, in a romantic Art Nouveau style. There are 6 versions known of this deck and most of them only consist of small differences, like having an outline or not or a toned background or not. The main difference however is found on the Jacks. On the above shown regular sized card (version 4) the Jack of Hearts has a plain helmet, just like the other Jacks. In our patience sized deck (version 6) the helmets of the Jacks are embellished with flowers and a larger flower is added to the design too. This feature is also found in versions 2 and 3.
The company of Granbergs AB was already a manufacturer of postcards and other printed matter and in 1924 they began producing playing cards as well under the supervision of Albert Bernhard. Two Swedish artists, Olle Hjortsberg and Einar Nerman, were invited to design a deck. The company started well but in 1926 demand dropped and the company went bankrupt. A new company "Granbergs Nya AB" was founded in 1928 and the production restarted, but when Albert Bernhard suddenly died in 1937 the company, with the complete stock, was sold. The last Granbergs decks were stamped in 1941.
The deck consists of 52 cards. No joker was issued with the patience deck.
We would like to thank Ali Jerremalm, not only for all the information about the company and the decks, which was gathered from his catalogue of Swedish playing cards in the Franz Braun series, but also for producing the beautiful illustrated and well informative catalogue about Scandinavian playing cards, that was presented during this year's IPCS convention. CHAPEAU!
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