August 2019


On Facebook you can find posts of video's in which people open up packages with birthday presents, kitchen utensils and even decks of playing cards. It's all done with much excitement and enthusiasm. When the deck passed through my hands last week it reminded me of our own excitement when we first opened this item, going through the LB collection last year. But this is not Facebook, so no video but a series of photo's that will hopefully arouse some excitement in you too.

The carton protective sleeve.

The first box that was pushed out.


Side of 1st box.

When that box is folded open, it reveals a second (leather coated) box for a double deck.

Taking out the box, it turns out to be rather thick.

And not without reason. It can be folded open, revealing two decks and a paper booklet.

A bridge score pad?

No, the Japanese characters on the cover are the title of a booklet with 157 pages in Japanese.
Fortunately the title was translated into French. "Petite Histoire des Cartes Jouer" (Short History of Playing Cards).
A lot of text pages in Japanese, but a couple of pages have b/w illustrations and there are even a few pages in full color.


But of course the most important content are the two decks, that can be slid out at the sides of the opened box.


So much for the opening ritual. By now you must have guessed that the title of this edition is "Les Cartes Jouer" and that the Japanese artist Takeo Takei (1894 - 1983) has designed the decks and box. It was published in 1974 and printed by the Angel Playing Cards Co. from Osaka, Japan. Looking at the boxes it's apparent that they are bilingual. The front is in Japanese, the back in French. The boxes are in blue and brown, which is not unusual, but there's an A and a B on both sides. What we hoped became true: there are two different designed decks. I'll show them both here.

Deck A has a single figure pattern. It seems that the artist has studied old French patterns and made his own interpretation. And he has introduced two "aliens" in his fantasized French pattern: the Queen of Spades looks rather Indian and the head of the Jack of Clubs has Asian, probably Japanese, features.





The title and artist are also to be found on the lap of the Queen of Diamonds.
Here below the jokers from deck A, with blue back.




The jokers from deck B, with brown back (falling angel).

Deck B shows a fantasy double image pattern, in a sort of French style. With the exception of the diamond suit, the name IKQA appears in each suit and on the ace of spades.  I've tried to find out what this could mean, but haven't found an answer. So if there's anyone with an answer...... don't hesitate to send me an email.  


Only the ace of spades is different in deck B. The other aces are the same as in deck A, plain.


On the pip cards in both decks the pips are placed in an unusual manner.