PJ Madsen's Playing Card Museum
"Dondorf Centennial Cards", 1933
the deck that broke the Dondorf company
The Dondorf firm was founded in 1833, and in the 100 years of its existence produced possibly the finest playing cards ever manufactured.
Any collector who has Dondorf cards in his or her collection can attest to their beauty and infinite variety.
On the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of the firm in 1933, it was decided to mark the centennial by issuing a special deck to be presented as a souvenir honoring guests attending the ceremonies.
These decks were not offered for sale on the German or any other market.
The project was so lavish, the printing so complicated, and the costs so exorbitant, the firm never recovered.
Instead it was forced into bankruptcy and was acquired by the Altenburger-Stralsunder Playing Card co. of Altenburg, Thuringia, now of Stuttgart, West Germany.
Some 16 separate color printings were required for the court-cards, and 12 color printings for the backs of this unusual deck.
A total of 28 separate color printings.
By Fred Taylor
These cards are amongst my favourites, the intricate design is Art-deco with lots of gold, which is not easy to see in the scanned images. Even the background has lots of detail.
While no definite personalities are depicted, one can see in the Kings the founders and rulers of old Germania.
It was reprinted in 1975 by Altenburger und Stralsunder Spielkarten-Fabriken AG (ASS).
I bought these from R Somerville (see links).
These cards have also been made for Waddington and sold as ROYAL GOTHIC.