Hermès, Paris c. 1947-48. Hermès playing cards. Set of two decks of cards, with orignal box from Hermès, wrapped with textile ribbon. The orange outer box is marked Hermès, 24, Faub[our]G Saint-Honoré, Paris and holds two separate boxes with cards, plus an accompanied note book, spiral bound, all edges gilt, in a pocket. The front and back of these boxes have the same design as the backs of the cards. Card box measures 10×15 cm. Each deck contains 52 cards plus two jokers along with an extra presentation card (something like a title page). The cards have gold edges. The outer box a little bit worn, the ”title page” for the red deck has a fold mark to the lower part. Otherwise in very good condition. These cards were printed by Draeger-Frères, Paris, in 7 (maybe even 8) zincographic colours. This is the second version, probably made for the export to Anglo-American countries because he words ”Made in France” were added on the title page. The major change lies in the design of the Jack of Diamonds. The head, hat, dagger and the Jack’s index finger has been redrawn. In the second version the type face with serif is also a bit bolder, higher and wider, so the letter and small suit sign had to be placed closer to the large suit sign, thus cutting a piece off the suit sign. This is seen in all suits.
A print ad from the period sells the cards as follows, ”Grace your card table with these beautiful and unusual playing cards . . . the facial expressions of the court, the abundance of color are eloquent testimony to the genius of Cassandre, internationally celebrated designer-artist.”
A. M. Cassandre (1901-1968). Cassandre was the alias of Adolphe Jean Marie Mouron, who was born on 24·1·1901 in Kharkow, Ukraine, and died on 17·6·1968 in Paris. He was not only a graphic artist and illustrator, but also a designer of theatre stages and type faces for the French type foundry Deberny & Peignot, Bifur (1929) & Peignot (1937). He was mostly known for his advertising posters, like the one of the mailboat Normandie. In 1918 he briefly studied painting at the Beaux Arts in Paris, but already in 1922 he began to work for commercial agencies. He moved to the USA and made many covers for the Harpers Bazaar magazine between 1936 and 1937. In the early 1940’s he abandoned the commercial activities and became a painter and stage designer.
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