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~~ Gallery 11 ~~
Regional Cards

Germany and
Central Europe

· page 4 ·

Central Europe

page 1
Germany - I
page 2
Germany - II
page 3
East Germany
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I wish to thank Tomáš Nímec and Lorant Peteri for helping me
with the Czech and Hungarian glossaries, respectively

Several Central European countries too play with German-suited cards: Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (once united), Hungary, Austria and Croatia, whose national traditions are influenced by a German cultural heritage.
Patterns exclusive to Austria are dealt with in a specific gallery.

In Poland (deeper yellow in the map), the standard international 52-card pattern is the one more often used, but Skat players prefer the French-suited Berliner Bild and the German-suited Preussisches-Silesisches Bild.
The latter pattern is based on the traditional German one, but the Polish version developed into a less detailed modern-looking design. The four daus cards feature the same personages as the original ones, while the ones on the courts are rather different, and their indices are in Polish: K, D, W. The typical scenic views at the base of single-ended pip cards feature national cities.

The German-suited pattern more commonly used in central Europe is the so-called Four Seasons, shown below; in Germany, instead, it is barely used at all.
The daus cards of the deck feature allegorical scenes of the four seasons of the year: the daus of Hearts shows spring (usually a girl picking flowers), Bells show summer (corn threshing), Leaves show autumn (wine making) and Acorns show winter (an old woman carrying a bundle of wigs).
Many pip cards too are decorated with small views or tiny personages, in this resembling the tirolian Salzburger or Einfachdeutsch style (see picture).
"Four Seasons" (Tell) pattern from former Czechoslovakia, by O.T.K.; the second and fourth cards
in the bottom row are the daus of Leaves (autumn) and of Acorns (winter), respectively

the four daus cards in both versions, from "Four Seasons" decks by
Berliner Spielkarten (Germany) and Offset Nyomda (Hungary)
In Hungarian versions, the subjects of the daus cards are not the same ones as in Austrian or Czech decks. The "winter" personage has the most evident changes, being featured as a man who warms himself by a fire, but also the other three contain elements of difference.
The illustrations of the remaining cards are more or less the same, except the unter knave of Hearts, whose personage looks rather different in the two versions.

The name of the season is often (but not always) stated above the illustration, in the country's own language.
Court cards, instead, are inspired by the play "Wilhelm Tell", whose characters are featured as ober and unter knaves of the four suits (but the four mounted kings do not come from the play, and are nameless). For this reason the pattern is also known as Tell.

the German Wilhelm Tell
(ober of Acorns)
The names of the characters only appear if the seasons' names are also mentioned. They are usually omitted in Czeck decks, while in Hungarian versions their surname comes before the first name (according to the national custom).

the Hungarian Tell Vilmos

Countries where Tell cards are used call this pattern with different names (see table on the right).

Another German-suited deck specifically used in the Czech Republic is the Jednohlavé ("single-headed") or, more popularly, Mariášové karty ("Marias' cards") from the most popular national card game.
AustriaDoppeldeutsche ("Double German")
Czech"RepublicDvouhlavé ("Double-Headed")
HungaryMagyar Kártya ("Hungarian Cards")

local names of the "Four Seasons" or Tell pattern

Jednohlavé, edition by OTK (Czech Republic)
Instead in Bavaria the pattern is called Prager Bild after the city of Prague, but this variety is not really used, having the German region already its own Bayerishes Bild (see page 1).
A relationship with the patterns of the nearby Germany indeed exists: the Jednohlavé likely sprang as a variety of the early German cards used in central Europe; in fact, the no longer existing Regensburger Bild, once typical of Regensburg and its surroundings, near Germany's south-eastern border, has many similarities with this Czech pattern. Also the aforesaid Bayerisches Bild and the Austrian Einfachbild have elements in common with the Jednohlavé, but the subjects of the latter pattern have an even more naive finish.

A French-suited pattern, once very popular in 19th century Europe, but now restricted to Austria and to the Czech Republic, is the one known as Wien - I or Viennese large crown, but also Picchetto in Italy and Pikety Karty in the Czech Republic, after the game played with the deck.
It is rather old-looking and very particular: the court personages tend to be large at the base, and the kings' crowns clearly exceed the upper frame, thus giving reason for the alternative name of this pattern. There are no indices, but the aces have tiny suit signs repeated in the four corners.
Up to a few decades ago, the Viennese large crown used to be popular in north-eastern Italy, as well, but in recent times this pattern has been discontinued by all Italian manufacturers.
More often, the deck has 32 cards; in Austria also 54-card and 24-card editions exist.

Large Crown, 1950s edition by Cambissa (Italy)

Another extinct variety of cards, usually referred to as Czech, is the pattern once used for playing Trappola: during the 15th-16th centuries this game used to be rather popular in most parts of Central Europe, where it had spread probably from Venice. Here, particularly in Bohemia, it survived much longer than in others areas.
The deck had 36 cards, with original Italian suits. Trappola decks have no longer been produced since the first half of the 20th century, but the Austrian manufacturer Piatnik has recently issued an edition obtained by reprinting an old one.

page 1
Germany - I
page 2
Germany - II
page 3
East Germany

(actual translations are shown in italics)

ÁSZ  (ace) ESO2  (DAUS)  worth as an ace


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