November 2011


There were 3 events this month. It started slowly with the regular monthly flea market in Utrecht in the first weekend, then picked up pace with the final meeting of the BEJC in Brussels in the second weekend and ended with a big boom at the Collectors Fair in the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht during the third weekend. But we'll take you through it one at a time.
The flea market was only good for two modern decks this month, but it's always a pleasure to walk around there. Over the years people start to know you and sometimes approach you with decks. But mostly you just make some small talk. This time lots of small talk, but no decent decks to keep.
It was the final BEJC meeting. The club no longer exists as such. Of course the members and former executives of the club will keep on collecting playing cards/jokers and already some Belgian members have organized a winter meeting in February. And then there  will  be the  spring  meeting in  Daknamdak in March, so  we  don't  have to fear that we won't see the Belgian

collectors anymore. Still it was a little bit sad to have to say goodbye to the Brussels Euro Joker Club. It was founded in 1988 and since 1995 we've been a member and regular visitor of their meetings.
The collectors fair in the Jaarbeurs is the largest bourse in the Netherlands for collectibles. Although it's open for the public on Saturday, with the right connections there are tickets to get for Friday too. That's the day on which the sellers set up their stalls and often good for nice finds. This time Miriam came along on Friday, but she didn't find anything at all, while Joop dug up a nice Belgian deck from around 1900. Saturday Miriam came along again and this time she surprised everybody with a deck that has been in the top three of our wish list for years and immediately qualified as...... DECK of the Month!

This deck is known here as the "Tegelkaart" (Tile card) and not only because of the back design. The designs on the courts and aces are done in a style and coloring that is similar to the famous Delft Blue tiles and pottery. Especially in this version, which is done in blue tones and very recognizable for the general public. There is another version of the deck, with the same designs, but printed in the brown tones, as used on the backs of this deck. 

The deck was printed and published by the Nederlandsche Speelkaarten Fabriek (NSF) and is classified in the "From NSF to SN" catalogue from 1986 as SN03. It is dated there 1909/1912. But compared with the other NSF decks, that were published around that same time, this deck sticks out with its unusual and innovative design. The other 2 decks have a  more classic design on the courts and one of them even shows a remarkable resemblance with the Cartes Imperiales by Van Genechten.

This deck has innovative features and a very modern look for those days and we have always believed that this was the hand of the new partner, Jos. Vas Dias, who entered the company in 1909. He was an experienced lithographer and was probably also responsible for the company's move from Utrecht to Amsterdam. There the production facilities were set up in 1909 and the company's first products were advertised in 1910. The first decks by NSF were of high quality chromolithographic printing. Considering the heavy competition from Belgian and German manufacturers in the lower quality segment of the market, it's probable that the NSF company initially aimed to compete with the German high quality manufacturers like Dondorf or Wst. 

For those who don't want to overstretch their necks, trying to enjoy the opposite images.......we've scanned the cards reversed too. Click HERE.


The deck has several special features, besides the use of a single color in different tones. The aces show typical Dutch scenes from everyday life in the countryside and not famous buildings. The figures on the courts don't represent royalty, but simple Dutch countrymen or fishermen, dressed in their familiar local costumes. On the King of Clubs two lower public servants are depicted: the village constable and the village "caller", who announced the latest news by shouting it in the streets. Yet the high quality of card and printing indicates that the deck was not aimed to be sold to these countrymen.

The figures on the courts are set against a scenic background. As such not a new feature, it can already be found on Belgian made decks from around 1890 too. But here the background is done in very light tones, creating a hazy depth. This is innovative and new for that decade and not often seen either. We can only think of the Dondorf centennial deck, but that was made about 20 years later.
Not a special feature, but just something worth noticing is that the position of the figures on the opposite sides of the courts is similar, thus slightly enhancing the suggestion of a true double image. A "classic" element is that all the Kings have a beard.

These hazy background scenes can be found on each of the pips too. Just like on the courts, it's not a double image, but each side of the card shows a different scene. Each suit has its own background designs for the pips. Parts of six of these designs have been used to create the tiles of the back design.
There's one last feature, that should be pointed out. Some of you may already have noticed that the indices in the red suits are printed in black on the courts, while the numbers on the pips in these suits are printed in red. This feature can be found in all the NSF decks. It was dropped when the company was taken over in August 1912 and went on as Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland (SN), although some of the NSF stock was later sold by SN too. Also typical for NSF decks are the flat bottomed V's on the Queens.

The deck consists of 52 cards. No joker was issued with this deck, but sometimes an extra card with the company logo and a short text was added.
It didn't come with our deck, neither did the box, but.........who's complaining, when you find such a beautiful rare deck.