February 2013


This month there were no collectors meetings and only one flea market was visited, so we had to rely on the internet again for our new acquisitions. Temperatures were around zero most of the time, so it wasn't a punishment to stay inside, comfortably warm, and follow the playing card auctions on screen. Again this resulted in a fine shortlist. 

Worth mentioning are the VSS Salon-Karte Nr. 61, with a nice set of Dutch scenic aces, a French advertising deck, illustrated by James Hodges, and an antique Belgian deck by Mesmaekers from Turnhout, with Belgian scenic aces.

We also finally received the new "Bohemia" deck by Peter Durham and Linnea Gits, but that will be shown in the Art&Cards section next month.

But this month our deck came from Jean-Pierre Blay, a fellow collector from France. Out of the blue he offered us this deck at a very reasonable price, a "prix d'amis", although he too knew that the same deck was already on Ebay and would probably end at a much higher price, which it did. Of course we were impressed by the artwork on the courts, but because we were equally impressed and pleasantly surprised by his nice gesture, this needed to be mentioned and the deck became the chosen one for this month.

It was made by Müller & Cie. from Schaffhouse, Switzerland, and published as an advertising deck for the Laboratoires Biomarine from Dieppe, France. Although a scoring card for bridge was found, dated 1935, the deck is most likely from 1947. In that year the Laboratoires Marine launched a campaign to advertise 3 of their vitamin products, Ionyl, Plasmarine and Marinol. These are the same products, as mentioned in the back design and on the explicative leaflet that came with the deck. Thanks to that leaflet we can provide you with the following information about the depicted figures from the ancient Greek/Roman mythology. But....... first enjoy the sometimes playful, yet strong designs.

Unfortunately the artist only left his initials as signature on the joker. It could read as PS or even IPS.
His designs were done in 3 colours. Because the cards are gray, white functions as a colour here too.

Neptune "is the powerful God of the fluid element in all its shapes. He rides though his vast domain in a chariot, carried by impetuous horses, jumping like the white frothed waves. He protects the seamen, but more often, irritated and wild, he causes storms, which he sets off with a blow of his feared trident. Neptune had Amphitrite as his wife."
Amphitrite, "mother of Triton and a great number of nymphs. She travels across the waves, dragged by sea horses."
Notus, "wind from the South, warm and stormy, pours out heavy rains and soaks the earth."


Océan (Oceanus), "son of Heaven and Earth, is the first God of the Waters. From the amphora, that the old man holds in his hands, the sea, the rivers and springs stream out perpetually. He marries Tethys, his sister."
Téthys "is probably the personification of the Mediterranean Sea and her marriage to Oceanus symbolizes the amalgamation of the two seas."
Zéphire (Zephirus), "wind from the West, comes from the sea and spreads coolness. It revitalizes nature and the flowers spring from his hands."

The aces show algae (seaweed). From left to right: Agarum Gmelini, Dilsea Edulis (a red alga),  Padina Pavonia and Ptilota Pectinata (also a red alga).


Name of the manufacturer is on the Ace of Spades.

Triton, "Jealous and violent God, whose conch terrified the seamen; navigated escorted by the Sirenes."
Sirène (Sirene). "By the sweetness of their songs the Sirens lured the travelers on to the cliffs."
Eurus, "wind from the East, forceful and frantic."

Nérée (Nereus), "son of Tethys. Older sea-god than Neptune. Sweet and peaceful, he comes to aid hero's and men, gives them advise from his wisdom and old skill. He married Doris, his sister."
Doris, "mother of fifty girls, called the Nereids."
Borée (Boreas), "Aquilon (Latin name of Boreas), wind from the North, fast like an eagle, brings along the coldness." 

The deck consists of 52 cards and 2 similar jokers.
The joker represents an artistic interpretation of a frogman.

The box also contained the leaflet, from which we've just described the characters on the courts and the marine life on the aces.