(all information about and pictures of this deck by courtesy of Klaus-Jürgen Schultz and Frieder Büchler, authors of the "Hamburger Spielkarten" book)


This deck is part of the collection of the Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte (Hamburg Historical Museum). It's described as having been printed in lithography and stencil colored. It's dated as around 1850. Because the deck came with the original wrapper, the title and maker are known. The cards measure 56 x 38 mm.

The kings show royalty and the jacks soldiers. The queens were identified as ordinary women in dresses from the countryside around Hamburg and the island of Helgoland. The aces and pip cards of 2 - 6 have a small illustration and most of them show children playing. Only the 2 of Hearts and the 6 of Clubs show more adult-like figures, of which the latter depicts a soldier-like figure holding a flag with the heraldic emblem of Hamburg. 

The enlarged 6 of Clubs shows the quality of the printing, which allows us  to see the fine details of the designs. This quality goes for all the cards. The scenes on the pips look quite similar to those in the second "Kinderkarten" deck, so we can easily understand that Frieder and Klaus-Jürgen have attributed their deck to that same Hamburg maker. But at the same time they have put a question mark to that conclusion and we would like to add a second one. The general concept of the deck may be the same, but there is such a great distinction in quality of printing and coloring that for us it was

already a bit hard to imagine that the same printer would be responsible for both these products. Because now a third Kinderkarten deck, much more similar to the Kinderkarten II deck has turned up (i.e. our deck of the month), maybe it's necessary to adjust the view on the Kinderkarten II deck.

The pips of the Niebuhr deck show illustrations of young children playing on the aces through 6's, except for the 6 of clubs, which shows a soldier holding a Hamburg flag, and the 2 of Hearts, which show two more adult figures. The 7 - 10's are not illustrated. Although at least 10 of the illustrations from this deck cannot be found in the other Kinderkarten decks, the rest of the illustrations look familiar. However, at closer look they all have been altered in some way. On some cards the designs have been redrawn in a mirrored version. We've added a few cards from our deck to illustrate this........

It's also clear that the Kinderkarten deck from the museum is better drawn and finer printed.
Comparing the dog with stick shows the finer detail and more natural pose in the Niebuhr deck.

   Swinging a bat or a racket? The fine detail of the snares must have gone "lost in translation".

   Two of the spades here below, three of the diamonds and all four hearts were not copied, mirrored or otherwise adapted into a new design.

Klaus-Jürgen and Friedler have already established a connection to the city Lübeck for the Kinderkarten II deck. The headwear and dress of two of the queens could be linked to this city, just like the red and white colors of the flag, that the soldier on the 4 of Spades is holding. After comparing all 3 decks, I'm less convinced of a shared Hamburg origin and wouldn't attribute the Kinderkarten II or our deck to Niebuhr. Maybe their origin lies in Lübeck and a card manufacturer there. Are there any known there in that era?
It's not with certainty, but the Niebuhr deck was probably made first and has maybe instigated the production, but certainly influenced the designs of the other two decks. From those our deck probably came first and was later followed by the Kinderkarten II deck. This assumption is based on the differences in details of the design on the cards: it's easier to loose fine details from a design than to add them to a design.
But there are still enough unsolved questions. Maybe someone will be able to add further information to all that's presented here. For now we can only hope that one day one of these decks will turn up, complete and in a wrapper with title and manufacturer on it.

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