June 2019



Swapping decks has never been a favorite. I've always preferred money as a middleman. But for this deck I had to do a little bit of both and I was happy with that, because I didn't want to let this rare beauty slip through my hands.
We have always been fond of the Art Deco or Art Nouveau style and it hurts me that Miriam never got to see this deck. It's one of the highlights of the Italian Art Nouveau decks and rarely seen. In Italy Art Nouveau is called "Stile Liberty" or "Stile Floreale". I guess the latter applies here.

On each of the courts there's a floral design. Sometimes the figure is almost entwined by flowers, on one court only a simple branch is added.

The deck was printed by S.A.I.G.A Armanino from Genoa, in which S.A.I.G.A. stands for Societa Anonima Industrie Grafiche co Affini. According to the black stamp on the ace of hearts the deck was published on August 12, 1910. Probably as Whist No 200, but I can't be sure as our deck didn't have the original box. The brownish Italian tax stamp dates from that time too. In 1910 Armanino was a large printing company, run by Adolfo Armanino. He was one of the two sons of Nicolo Armanino, who started a print shop in Genoa around 1843. Henry, the other son, had already left the company in 1882. Around that time Armanino began to print playing cards, probably instigated by Adolfo, who was always looking for ways to expand the business. There are not many different Armanino decks known and most of them have standard patterns, like a Spanish pattern, an international pattern and some Italian regional patterns. According to the WWPCM site the other known non-standard deck is the "Carte per Signora", which we have acquired exactly 6 years ago. So for that one see our Deck of the Month of June 2013.

This deck here was printed in very fine chromolithography too, but each figure has a visible, strong outline, which is unusual for chromolithographic designs. It's rather used in color lithographic designs. So it must have served a purpose here. I can only think of it as a graphical way of detaching the figure from the floral background design and the flowers in the foreground. 
The aces of Spades, Clubs and Diamonds have the same floral design, but on the ace of Hearts that design lacks the two yellow flowers on both sides. That was probably done to leave more room for the tax stamps, something that the tax office man in charge of stamping must have missed here. The courts have Italian indices.
Well, 'nuff said........ ENJOY!










The deck consists of 52 cards and a joker. Our deck came in a plastic box.

Fortunately our Italian friend Gustavo Orlando-Zon has a deck with the original box......

He also explained that S.A.I.G.A. was not a generic title for companies in the graphic industry, but in fact the new name of the Fratelli Armanino print shop. The "gia" here means "once". The name change took place in 1905 and not 1906.