INDIGENOUS SCENIC ACES

"SPEELKAARTENFABRIEK NEDERLAND"

 

Holland was a prosperous country in the 17th century. Those days are still referred to here as "The Golden Century". A few great Dutch playing card makers were known throughout Europe then: Pieter Meffert and later Jonas Fouquet. In the 19th century the decline slowly began. The number of small playing card manufacturers decreased until around 1860, when there were (as far as we know) none remaining.

As we've seen, playing cards were imported from Germany and Belgium. Firms like B. Dondorf and C.L. Wüst exported their quality cards for the Dutch market, the Belgian firms from Turnhout supplied the lesser quality decks for everyday use. It was in this setting that a new Dutch company would have to find a place in the market.

On November 1st, 1906 two Dutch publishers, A.E. van der Heide from Haarlem and W. van Leijdenroth from Utrecht, and a related printer, the Widow A.J. Leijdenroth van Broekhoven, founded a new firm: "De Nederlandsche Speelkaartenfabriek". It was situated in Utrecht. In 1908 mr. Van der Heide retired and in 1909 a new partner was found in Amsterdam: the lithographer Jos. Vas Dias & Co. who probably had a greater experience with (chromo)lithography. On March 16th 1909 a new company was founded: "N.V. Nederlandsche Speelkaartenfabriek en Steendrukkerij" (further referred to here as NSF). In August the company moved to Amsterdam, where the factory of a liquidated firm, situated on Prinseneiland 153-155, provided more production space. It takes about a year before their products are first offered in a journal for booksellers. The delay is caused by the new machinery, that had to be ordered and placed, the necessary (re)building permits, that had to be obtained, and the hiring of new personnel.

On February 8th, 1911 production is delayed again. A fire destroys the attic and there was considerable water damage.

Looking at the first few decks that were published by the NSF it becomes clear that the new manufacturer was at first aiming at the higher quality cards segment in the market. All these decks had a special design and were printed in high quality chromolithography, except for the first edition of the "Kroonkaart". With a version of the Frankfurt pattern, plain aces and a lesser quality card, that deck was probably issued to compete with the cheaper Belgian decks.

 

The "Tegelkaart" was one of the first decks that the NSF published (1909-1912). There's a blue version (as shown here) and a brown one, with the same designs on the courts and aces in brownish tones.
It's a remarkable deck, which was apparently published as a true souvenir deck. The courts show men and women in local costumes, but the scenic aces are a bit unusual. Although the aces depict typical Dutch scenes, these are not views of famous buildings, but show rather the average rural life.

The deck was printed in fine chromolithography and it had the intention to imitate the famous "Delft blue" pottery and tiles. The hazy background on the courts is a feature that was fairly new in those days. It may have been introduced as a proof of quality, in design as well as in printing technique.  

 

Another example of one of the first decks printed by NSF is the pattern known as "Clubkaart", "Neerlandia" and "Amstel". The pattern on the courts has been classified as "Neerlandia A". The decks were in production between 1911 and 1916. The Clubkaart came with aces that were embellished with an Art Nouveau design.
The Amstel deck came with scenic aces that show views of Amsterdam only (above). 
The Neerlandia decks were accompanied by a set of aces that show eight different Dutch cities (below).

On the Ace of Spades Rotterdam is represented by the "White House". Constructed in Art Nouveau style in 1897, this 10 floor building was the first skyscraper in Rotterdam and.... Europe. A worthwhile scene in the early 1900’s. To our knowledge there's only one other ace with a view of this building and that is on one of the Dutch scenic aces, which came with a deck by an unknown, possibly Dutch, manufacturer. It's shown further on in the article.
The first restyling of the original Neerlandia deck was done in December 1916. All the Queens (see QH) were re-designed and the cards were slightly narrower. This version of the pattern was classified as "Neerlandia B". The second restyling of the Neerlandia deck was probably done in 1917. This time the Jacks were re-drawn. The feathers on the hats of the Jacks were clipped and the hair (moustaches included) of the Jacks was also trimmed (see JC). This version is classified here as "Neerlandia C".

 

This deck was printed in lithography by SN and published around 1910. The pattern is called "Dietsche Kaart" and usually comes with a set of aces illustrated with emblem-like decorations.
But this deck was published by the NSM, a Dutch shipping line, and it has a set of scenic aces. This same set was used in later NSM publication, together with the "Amstel" version of the Fortuna cards by SN (see page SN 09-12). However, the aces of Hearts and Clubs have been scanned upside down with a good reason. Here they show views with the MS Vondel in Amsterdam and Genoa. These scenes don't appear in the other set, while all the other views are exactly the same.

 

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