June 2015



Somehow this month didn't bring us many new decks for our collection and it all started so well at the annual Collectors Day of the National Playing Card Museum in Turnhout on the 6th. We attended, but as we were on our way home from a week in England, we didn't bring any of our trading decks to the meeting. We came home with about 10 decks, so Miriam didn't have to spend more than a day to process them.
The next Sunday there was a Dutch collectors meeting at Kerkdriel, but unfortunately there were not that many dealers nor visitors. We only got 2 new decks. The American Ebay didn't bring any decks at all. Not because there were no interesting decks, but nowadays a lot of sellers use that special Ebay shipping program and we refuse to pay the outrageous shipping costs and import duties that Ebay imposes. So we visit other Ebay sites, like the French, British or German one, and we help funding artistic decks at Kickstarter. All this has led to an interesting short list again this month. 

Worth mentioning are the latest "Delicious" deck by Emmanuel Jose, the beautifully drawn, Russian "Ermita" deck by Olga Popugaeva & Dmitry Nepomniashchy and the MAD deck by Ozmer Olçer. But we went for a variation again this month, this time of a hardly seen deck. Above are the heads of the King of Clubs from the "La Flibuste Françoise" deck by Gaston Delluc. The first one is from the 1952 edition, as we've shown in the "French & the Sea" xpo (see page 5 there), but we can only make an educated guess to date the deck of the second head.

The differences between the two editions are clear. In this version there are 7 different colors to be dis- tinguished. The version from 1952 has one color more and at the same time that is the color that makes the difference. It's the brown as application for hair and.... shadow on the faces.
However, that was only applied on the Kings and Jacks. Maybe it was done to emphasize their female looks, but on none of the Queen's faces the  brownish shadowing was applied.

The use of shadow makes the faces much stronger and outspoken.

When compared it's clear that the use of red and blue has been reversed. On one of the cards this has led to an unusual and unrealistic combination of color and object. See the hair and the little fox on the Queen of Diamonds. But the limited use of the colors has also led to a distinguishing feature: the black suit symbols are printed in dark blue too. Black isn't used at all in this version.

But when compared, the enlarged heads above also show minute differences in the design. If you take one design and have two engravings made of that design, there will always be small differences, as engraving is done by hand and it's almost impossible for an engraver to make an exact copy. There will always be lines that are done just a little different. However, the existence of these small differences would mean that for this version a different set of woodblocks has been engraved.

The aces have embellished suit symbols: a mermaid, French lilies, (presumably) the feathers on a pirates hat and a ship. The letters P and O have caused some confusion. They are also on the aces of the decks from the later edition, which is usually attributed to Philibert, and these are often mistakenly offered as an advertising deck for the P&O (ferry) line. On top there's the French lily again, but we cannot explain the cross-like symbol and letters either.
It's easy to distinguish the Delluc deck from the later Philibert decks. The Delluc cards have gold corners and are somewhat larger than usual. They measure 68 x 101 mm.

The shadowed deck was created by Gaston Delluc. It was engraved by Henri Renaud after the original designs by Sylvestre Guy. The coloring was reproduced in stencil by Edmond Vairel and the deck was printed by D. Viglino. There's no reason to think that this lineup was any different in the creation of this deck. So we're left with the question which deck came first. The deck here is probably not a trial version, as it has been finished with shiny gold corners,    just    like    the

shadowed deck. Still, we believe that this deck here is the first version. The color scheme is simpler and the coloring of the designs leaves the faces of the courts rather bleak, as if they stayed in their cabins during the whole journey. In the shadowed deck these shadows allow the bleak parts to suggest a highlighted area by the sun, while the shadowed part suggests a more suntanned complexion. See the brown hand of the King of Hearts. This simple improvement puts the men back on deck.

With the evident exception of the Queen of Clubs the faces and hands of the queens were left as they were. Apparently those ladies were allowed to stay below. So.... a date? It's probably safe to assume that this version was the first one and, although we don't know how many copies were published in this edition and therefore cannot estimate the time it took to sell them, we tend to date this deck at c1950. It's even possible that the decks were sold simultaneously for a while.

The colored rings and stripes on the jokers straw hat and bandana were later changed into a single color:
 yellow for the hat and brown for the bandana.


This deck came without a box. However, in the "French & the Sea" xpo we only showed the accompanying information/gift card.
So now it's a good opportunity to show the double box, in which the two shadowed decks came.