April 2015



There was only one collectors meeting this month. It was the last time that Frans Dekker will organize the meetings at Nieuwerbrug and the number of attending sellers justified his decision to stop after many decades. This last meeting brought us only a few new decks for our collection. Worth mentioning is a vintage Czechoslovakian non-standard advertising deck. It was one of this month's contestants for this spot, but so was an unusual "souvenir" deck from Nizza (Nice) with modern designed courts, aces and jokers.
Of the other usual sources only Ebay brought some interesting decks. Marktplaats, the Dutch auction site, didn't have anything interesting at all this month. But we're a bit proud to show you this "Deck of the Month". During the IPCS convention in La Tour de Pfeilz (Switzerland) in 2013 we had bought a similar designed deck from a French dealer. He boasted that none of the present experts had ever seen that deck before. Although we don't claim to be experts we had to agree.

But this is the detail that was crucial for us in our decision to take the extra step and win this rare Coca Cola advertising deck. 

The deck was printed in offset and the courts apparently show existing kings. We recognize Henry VIII (Spades) and probably Louis XIV (Hearts), but about the other two kings we are not sure who they represent. The Queen of Spades seems to represent the fourth wife of Henry VIII, Anne of Cleves. Her figure bares a great resemblance with that of Anne of Cleves in the painting by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Queen of Clubs looks a lot like Queen Elisabeth I, but the other two queens remain a mystery for us. Maybe someone with more historic knowledge can help out. The Jacks look like ordinary servants.
The suits seem to represent royalty from several centuries. The oldest are in the Diamonds suit, their clothing looks rather mediaeval. 

The aces are plain and have the number 1, which is not unusual in French decks. The indices are French too.
But the most interesting part of this deck was the back design. It advertises Coca Cola and "buvez" means "drink"

Whenever we see a Coca Cola back design of which we think that we haven't seen it before, we visit the online Coca Cola catalogue. In all previous visits we were proven wrong and that back design was already known there, but this time we couldn't find this back design in the catalogue. There are probably 2 reasons for that. Firstly the I.P.C. from Paris is a hardly known manufacturer of playing cards. Secondly this Coca Cola advertising deck was specially made for the French troops.
It doesn't say where these troops were located, but after WWII there are only a few conflicts in which French troops were deployed. The main conflict was in French Indochina (mainly the present North Vietnam), where the French fought against the Viet Minh during the First Indochina War from 1946 to 1954. The second conflict was the war in Northern Africa between the French and the Algerian independence movement, which lasted from 1954 to 1962.
Because at the moment this is the only known deck, it's more likely that it was handed out to the troops in Indochina. The Algerian conflict was much closer to home and some 900.000 "pieds noirs" (French inhabitants in Algeria) returned to France when Algeria became independent, so the chance of taking along such decks is much higher and should have resulted in more finds during the last decades. Vietnam is a long way from home and in the end the French were defeated there. So in our opinion the deck was probably send to the troops in Indochina. It would date the deck as c1950.

The Coca Cola deck didn't come in a box or wrapper, but our first I.P.C. deck did come with a box (see below). That deck consists of 54 cards, of which 2 are jokers. But the box is interesting. On front it mentions the I.P.C. logo and on the back it reads "publication of decks of advertising cards" and below is the name of Plouviez & Cie. Because this company was a printing firm, specialized in all kinds of labels (for different brands of wine, rum, olive oil, syrup etc.), it's possible that they have set up a production line for playing cards for a while. The I.P.C. probably stands for Imprimerie Plouviez Cie. The company was located in Paris and the mentioned telephone number starts with 3 letters. This was still in use in Paris throughout the 1950's.

The Coca Cola deck didn't have any jokers, but our first deck did. It's likely that this joker (in black and red version) also exists with the Coca Cola back design.