Scenic Aces

Imagine playing cards as a valuable source of iconographic information. Landscapes that no longer exist, battles that form part of our history or the catalog of works of graphic artists may potentially be discarded.

Scenic Aces

To decorate the large blank area of aces, some manufacturers began to include views of cities or allegorical scenes, primarily from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. These were mostly German and Belgian decks which portrayed their own country as well as foreign scenes. Brazilian landscapes appear in various editions, mainly showing the city of Rio de Janeiro, which was then the capital of the country.

Whether the image was used for the exotic location it presented or the memory of a distant land, these aces were in fact precursors to modern postcards. The images were based on engravings of travelers, and later on old photographic postcards. The kings, queens and jacks often had no relationship with the aces.

Wüst had two important series of scenic aces showing Rio de Janeiro. The first included the "Church of Candelaria" and the "Fountain of the Field of Honor," among others. The other, more recent, series showed the "View from the Pharoux Hotel" and the "Bay Entry Seen from Outside". In the twentieth century, a third set of views, without legends, shows the Municipal Theater and the Aqueoduto da Lapa. Frommam & Bunte, from Darmstadt, replaced some of the views from Wüst s second series with new pictures, such as "Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro" and "Corcovado and Saúde."

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    Rio de Janeiro by Wüst.

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    Nueva visión do Rio de Janeiro by Wüst.

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    Rio de Janeiro by Frommam & Bunte.

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    Recife e Porto Alegre by Dondorf.

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    Recife visto by Germany.

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    A Bahia according to Brelops.

It is then that the copy edited by Dondorf illustrating "Pernambuco" and "Port of Porto Alegre". Germany still has cards with views of Recife and surroundings in aces, among other "Cross Street" and "Street Crespo".

Belgian manufacturers produced that second series of Wüst on specimens from various levels of quality. Brepols already used a more diverse series, with "Port of Bahia (Brésil)" and "Chapelle Bahia (Brésil)", showing the ruins of the Chapel of Saint Mary of inspiration in painting of William Gore Ouseley.

Royal Figures

Good relations between the Brazilian imperial family and Belgium are probably one of the reasons Brazil is portrayed in decks from the country. The first shows the emperors of Brazil and France, the kings of Portugal and Spain and their consorts; the other, issued by Van Genechten as "Jeu Quatre Empereurs", shows the emperors of Russia, Germany and Austria, completing the quartet with D. Pedro II. Traditional views of Rio de Janeiro are included on the aces.

A deck of cards with Brazilian and Portuguese royalty and personalities, issued by C. L. Wüst around 1870, deserves special attention. What makes this even more interesting are the battle scenes from the Paraguayan War on two of the aces.

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    D. Teresa Cristina, Empress of Brazil.

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    D Pedro II by Van Genecthen.

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    Historic deck by Wust.

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    Historic deck by Wust.

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    Two issues from Azevedo with scenic aces.

  • Cartas de Baralho

    Two issues from Azevedo with scenic aces.

Azevedo & Co. printed two decks with scenic aces: one with imaginary landscapes and one with the wonders of the ancient world.

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Illustrated Decks

Some sets of cards take the format of an illustrated album, with games serving simply as a support for the 52 cards, the value and suit of which can only be identified by the index in the corner. In addition to the 1922 Francisco Carneiro edition, there are others, such as "Brazilian Tourist Deck" of the 1960s, with monochrome photos, and Copag s "Brazil Deck", currently in production.

The El Cabriton t-shirt store has launched three editions of its "Project 54" deck since 2010, where each of the 52 cards and 2 jokers are designed by a different artist.

The "Mensalão Scandal Deck" portrays those involved in the scandal on each card. Along the same lines, the Department of Public Safety of the State of Bahia put a set on the Internet where each card bears the picture of a wanted criminal. The advantage of the global network is to be able to quickly update the contents of the deck.

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