October 2021



Already in the 19th century playing cards have been made of leather, when regular cards weren't available. An example of that, made by Apache tribesmen in the US, is known. This deck here isn't antique and doesn't come from the US. Although I don't know exactly where it was made, my guess would place it in the Northern part of Africa along the Mediterranean coast. Morocco? Tunisia? or ??
But... it is made of leather!
Leather cards will obviously be thicker than we are used to. The average thickness of these cards is about 0,6 mm.


There are a few indications to place the maker in the Northern part of Africa. The use of French indices, the circular embellishment on the ace of clubs and a faint similarity with the French pattern hint towards a former French colony. Those in Northern Africa are the closest to home, but the French have had colonies all over the world, so other regions can't be ruled out.
For me dating this deck is impossible too. I could be 10 years old, but also 40, just as easy. And... was it made as a sort of souvenir deck or for a special occasion? It would be a lot of work, a little too much I think, for creating souvenir decks, but who knows. And I can't figure out what the 3000 U M could mean.
So, as usual, I would appreciate it if there's a collector who recognizes these cards and/or has some more information about them. THANKS!

The cards seem to have been made by hand from a natural coloured leather. The cutting is irregular. In each patch/card a different pattern was carved, which seems to have been done as indication for the placing of the design elements. Looking closely at the embellishments around the courts there are numerous differences in detail. It suggests that these were individually made by hand on each separate card, just like the differences in the indices. The cards have been finished with a smooth lacquer on the fronts, but not on the backs. Maybe it's the combination, but they handle reasonably well. Flexible, but not too much. Of course placing the indices in the middle design doesn't help with fanning them in your hand. Probably the reason why the cards are still in excellent condition, maybe only tried once for playing a game.

The heads on the colourful designs on the courts are crudely drawn, as if made with 19th century woodblocks.
Not my fav style, but I didn't buy the deck for the beauty of the designs. The material was intriguing enough.
Still......... ENJOY!



The leather coloured background has been embellished with patterns, cut in the leather. That idea was also applied on the pips.
The ace of Clubs has that characteristic circular embellishment of the French patterned decks.
  Click that ace to see the pips of all the suits.



The backs have a sort of similar design, but here too it's clear that they were done individually by hand.
The used ink doesn't always have the same colour either.

The deck consists of 32 cards and it comes in the original leather box.