Russia

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Russia

Unread postby nECr0MaNCeD » Tue Sep 09, 2014 12:32 pm  

I found the deck below at a local thrift shop. I got it for 50 cents. I have only found two listings for these on eBay. One claims they are from 1991 and the other 1982. The plain tuck does not do the cards inside justice. The cards are in good condition and all 52 are there, minus the jokers. Any information about these would be greatly appreciated.

I apologize in advance for the bad photography.


Front of tuck. The substance at the top seems to be wax. A tax or duty stamp maybe?
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Back of tuck. You can just make out the beginning of the waxy substance from the last pic.
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Card backs. Sorry, they don't spread well and the smooth surface didn't help.
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Spades. I'm not enough of an expert to tell if the gold is ink or foiling. The pic doesn't do them justice. They are quite stunning in person.
Image

Diamonds
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Clubs. Think Jackson would like those skinny clubs?
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Hearts. The gold ink/foil is more striking on the red hearts/diamonds
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Re: Russia

Unread postby dazzleguts » Tue Sep 09, 2014 2:28 pm  

Hey Necro
This is the White Palekh, an alternate version of the Black Palekh which was first printed for a world's fair and then reprinted as an anniversary edition.

Palekh refers to Russian miniature lacquer paintings on papier-mâché that first appeared around 1923 in a village called Palech and was based on a long local history of icon painting.

Your deck has a small letter with a 2 digit number beside it, at the bottom right of the box front. That is the date for your particular deck. I can't quite read it in your photo. This deck had many reprintings due to it's popularity so both the ebay dates that you found may be technically right. I will post more about the history and time line of this deck tonight when I have time to look it up.
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Re: Russia

Unread postby nECr0MaNCeD » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:35 pm  

dazzleguts wrote:Hey Necro
This is the White Palekh, an alternate version of the Black Palekh which was first printed for a world's fair and then reprinted as an anniversary edition.

Palekh refers to Russian miniature lacquer paintings on papier-mâché that first appeared around 1923 in a village called Palech and was based on a long local history of icon painting.

Your deck has a small letter with a 2 digit number beside it, at the bottom right of the box front. That is the date for your particular deck. I can't quite read it in your photo. This deck had many reprintings due to it's popularity so both the ebay dates that you found may be technically right. I will post more about the history and time line of this deck tonight when I have time to look it up.



Thanks Dazzle. The letter/number code you are referring to is A-84r, so am I correct in assuming it is 1984? Thanks again. I appreciate the info.
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Re: Russia

Unread postby dazzleguts » Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:41 pm  

This is a great find for 50 cents at a thrift store. I found mine the same way a few years ago. My deck has the jokers, and the complementary back to yours. Here so you can see the joker and matching back:

White P joker back.jpg


Yes the number 84 indicates 1984. My own deck is 1985. I don't know what the wax would be. Mine is missing the top flap of the tuck entirely so it may have had a seal?

The gold illustrations and embellishments in the pip cards of the White Palekh did not appear in the Black one so they are really different decks. IMO the White seems delicate and elegent while the Black is dramatic and ostentatious.

From my notes here is a more accurate beginning for the Black Palekh this white one was based on:

"Originally designed and printed in a very small edition by artist P. Bazhenov in 1937, and shown in the International Exposition in Paris, France, where it quickly sold out. It was redrawn for offset by E. Pashkov and reprinted for the 150th anniversary of the Leningrad/St. Petersburg playing-card factory in 1967."

I don't know the history of the White deck - why it was remade. WOPC says it was first printed in 1982.
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Re: Russia

Unread postby nECr0MaNCeD » Wed Sep 10, 2014 5:19 am  

Very nice. Thanks a lot for taking the time to type this. I showed them to a friend at work whose parents emigrated to the US from Russia in 1977, two years after he was born. He offered me $20 for them but they are officially part of my collection and not for sale. Thanks again for taking the time to tell me about these.
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Re: Russia

Unread postby volantangel » Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:21 am  

Interesting, but aren't the palekhs still being printed nowadays? I recent saw packs of the black being on sale in a museum in Vienna when I travelled there a couple of months ago
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Re: Russia

Unread postby nECr0MaNCeD » Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:47 am  

volantangel wrote:Interesting, but aren't the palekhs still being printed nowadays? I recent saw packs of the black being on sale in a museum in Vienna when I travelled there a couple of months ago


Very possible. I;m still glad to have these. Now that you've told me that I will look for a newer deck.
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Re: Russia

Unread postby Eoghann » Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:57 pm  

Pretty cool! I had never seen the white palekhs before. I have the black ones.
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Re: Russia

Unread postby dazzleguts » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:21 pm  

Necro, this is one of my favourite decks so it's a pleasure to look at them again. Thank you for bringing them up. :)

Do you have a double deck set Eoghann? Is it a recent printing? If it is what are the backs like, did they change them again?

You can get Black Palekh reprints on ebay easy, no need to go to Vienna. ;)

The Black decks are still being printed now, but these vintage White ones are close to the first 1982 White Palekh decks, and with the different pip card treatment, on top of the colour and back change, the Black and White Palekhs really are different decks.

Palekh compare pips.jpg
Palekh compare pips.jpg (203.85 KiB) Viewed 2161 times


Palekh compare aces.jpg
Palekh compare aces.jpg (156.1 KiB) Viewed 2161 times


Palekh compare backs.jpg
Palekh compare backs.jpg (264.5 KiB) Viewed 2161 times
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Re: Russia

Unread postby Eoghann » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:31 pm  

It's not a double set. It's just a single deck I got off eBay. I'm not sure if it's an old deck. The box certainly looks somewhat weathered. It has the long tuck flap and the joker on the front of the tuck. :)
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Re: Russia

Unread postby nECr0MaNCeD » Wed Sep 10, 2014 7:23 pm  

You are more than welcome Dazzle. Thanks for the comparison pics. I much prefer the White deck. Do you think I should take some better close up shots and post them for the sake of documentation?
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Re: Russia

Unread postby dazzleguts » Wed Sep 10, 2014 10:05 pm  

Space
That would be cool Necro. :) These really deserve a closer look, and yours will be the representative deck.
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Re: Russia

Unread postby volantangel » Wed Sep 10, 2014 10:15 pm  

The decks I saw were definitely a reproduction of some sort. And the white looks so much more elegant, but the gold doesn't pop as much. Interesting how many versions there are of this deck :)
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Re: Russia

Unread postby dazzleguts » Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:39 pm  

"Blosyak"
by Alexander Blosjak in c. 2009


Alexander Blosjak, aka Alex Blosyak or Sasha Blosyak, is a very interesting Russian illustrator who uses street/graffiti/underground comic styled art in much of his work. His drawings have been published in many magazines, in ads, an illustrated book of his own stories, and he has designed 2 decks of cards I know of.

Blosyak courts spades.jpg


This particular fantastical deck was started when Blosjak met someone who introduced himself as the King-bird, and Blosjak felt it imperative to make a card.

Blosyak courts hearts.jpg


He invented post-apocalyptic bird figures a la Venetian: these strange birds worship the weapons left behind by a dead human civilization.

Blosyak courts clubs.jpg


The more terrible the weapon, the higher the card: Jacks hold chainsaws and aces reference nuclear bombs and their radiation.

Blosyak courts diamonds.jpg


The pip cards are 6 through 10 in each suit and show feathers equal to the number of each card.

Blosyak nines square.jpg


With the dominant colour in the characters being black Blosjak chose to make the simplified suit signs in 4 different colours, which would also be the only bright colour in the courts and pip cards. The suit signs are blue triangles for spades, red triangles on their tips for hearts, green crosses for clubs, and yellow diamonds. Only 300 decks of this 36 card deck were printed - a true rarity.

Blosyak box back.jpg


My deck has some gaps in the black ink, as well as carry over smudges in the white areas. The cards are not pasteboard and show the other side through when held up to the light. They are also a little irregular in size and shape. The box surface is a little ragged where it was bent into shape. My guess is they were actually printed by Blosjak and self-published.
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Re: Russia

Unread postby Jock1971 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:27 pm  

WOW.. Thanks for showing this deck Dazzelguts, simply stunning.
It amazes me how someone can come up with a deck like this just because of a few words .To imagine a whole civilization and it`s background and then realize it in a pack of cards mystifies me.
You say the artist has done two decks ..i would like to see what else he could do.
Oh do you know the age of the deck ?
The Art on the cards themselves, fantastic, The Queens to me are instantly recognizable as female, although i would have liked to see them with a Blade of some kind...it is a civilization that worships weapons after all.The Ace`s are very strange indeed, possibly my favorite cards of the deck :lol: and i do like the feather idea for the number cards, very smart . Perhaps a few feathers on the clothing worn by the courts would have added a bit more to their Birdlike appearance. But yeah.. the cards look fantastic as is. :drool:
I wonder why he didn`t use the Russian equivalent of the A,K,Q & J. I think they might have suited the style of the pack better.
The tuck box is quite unassuming (Back`s also),considering what`s inside,The use of feathers once again would have suited the style better. if i had seen a picture of just the tuck on e-bay or the like, i probably would have scrolled right passed it without a second glance.

A rare find indeed,again thanks for showing something i would never have seen otherwise 8-) The Sci-Fi geek in me loves looking at illlustrations like this and i just loves looking at cards. :oops: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Russia

Unread postby Eoghann » Thu Oct 09, 2014 3:07 pm  

My goodness. That deck is just incredible.
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Re: Russia

Unread postby dazzleguts » Thu Oct 09, 2014 6:25 pm  

That's great, you guys have the same reaction as I do to this deck: :shock:
It remains in my top ten even though I've more than doubled my collection since I found this one.

@Jase: as far as I can tell the deck was made around 2009 - which I put in the title above. (I will change that so it reads better.) Much of the info about it seems to be only available in Russian and I may have missed some of the nuances when running the text through translators. I had to extensively rewrite the translations to make them at all coherent.

Blosjak is an incredibly creative person who has been very prolific. You can see some of his work here:
https://www.behance.net/sashablosyak
http://cargocollective.com/Blosyak/Illustrations

He has made another deck called Medieval Manuscript but it's much milder looking than this one. See it here:
http://cargocollective.com/Blosyak/Playing-cards-Medieval-manuscript

As for the queens, the Q of H is removing a hidden blade from her robes while the others are making arcane hand signs and have many rings. Rings were an old way to carry a small amount of poison and maybe they do so here. The Q of S also looks like she may be reaching inside her top for something deadly. Altogether I think they represent the weapons of subterfuge.

I also would have liked to have seen Russian indices on these. There is english on the cards ("made in Russia") so perhaps his intended audience was Russia's cold war enemy, the US, and nuclear war the possible apocalypse?

The tuck and back use a highly stylized feather shape to make the design. It's a more formal back than an illustrated one would have been. He worked in a design studio so I wonder if the backs were designed by a colleague? With his quality of work you do rather want to see as much of it as possible. Maybe if he makes another edition the backs will be more like the faces.

One more thing about these is the way they also seem to touch on plague doctor outfits from the 17th and 18th centuries:

grev_medico1_w.jpg
grev_medico1_w.jpg (21.07 KiB) Viewed 2084 times


As may be seen on picture here,
In Rome the doctors do appear,
When to their patients they are called,
In places by the plague appalled,
Their hats and cloaks, of fashion new,
Are made of oilcloth, dark of hue,
Their caps with glasses are designed,
Their bills with antidotes all lined,
That foulsome air may do no harm,
Nor cause the doctor man alarm,
The staff in hand must serve to show
Their noble trade where'er they go.
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Re: Russia

Unread postby Jock1971 » Sun Oct 12, 2014 5:51 am  

Hi Dazzelguts, Thanks for the links, very cool, the colourful illustrations reminded me of the Anime film Paprika :?
and i do like the look of his other deck too, quite a departure from this one.

Those sneaky Queens, i didn`t even see the blade being pulled from the sleeve :oops:

OOOOooohh...that was a bit "Spooky" at the end, i loved it 8-)
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Re: Russia

Unread postby iDoctor » Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:32 am  

A little bit more about the Palekh cards history. (Palekh is a village in the central Russia with a population of about 5.000 people, one of historical centres of the traditional Russian art).

Here is the sample of the traditional Palekh Art: Image

The original Palekh playing cards were created in 1937 by the Russian artist Pavel Bazhenov (born in 1904, lost in 1941, specialized in theater and traditional Russian art). These original Palekh cards were created for the World Expo '1937 in Paris and were avaliable in France only. (Quickly sold). Nowadays these cards are one of the rarest and the most expensive of all Russian/Soviet playing cards ever. They are really beautiful (unfortunately I don't know how to upload pictures from my computer here so cannot show you these cards, the best of all Palekhs).

I've added Black Palekh '1937 cards to the PCDB here is the link where you can see all images: https://playingcarddb.com/dbdeck?id=2336&name=palekh-black-original

In 1967 these cards were reprinted by the Leningrad (St.Petersburg) factory to commemorate their 150-years anniversary with similar but simplified design. These cards were officially named as 'Jubilee' playing cards but became well known abroad as Black Palekh playing cards (so these were not original). These cards also have had very high quality and one of the best gold embossing ever.

Black Palekh ace joker back EC.jpg

Black Palekh spade court.jpg

Black Palekh Jubilee 3 courts.jpg


This edition of the Black Palekh has several differences from the original 1937 version. At first, original version had not gold (yellow) borders. Then, the names were originally printed using not Cyrillic but Latin letters (A, K, Q, etc. instead of Т, К, Д, etc.). And these decks had absolutely different Jokers.

There was one more edition of these cards - 'Jubilee' 1997 edition, it was printed to commemorate the 180-anniversary of the St.Petersburg (Leningrad) card factory.

In 1982 one more simplified version of these cards was printed at the same Leningrad factory - the 'Souvenir' playing cards - these were the White Pelekh cards (please note that playing cards were expensive in the USSR and even the simplified white card's price was 3 Soviet rubles - about USD6 officially - while standard Soviet salary was about 150 roubles per month). These cards are the least rare among historical Palekh cards.

There also were two editions of the White Palekh. The first one has been shown at the beginning of this topic. Another one was printed in St.Petersburg 10 years later and had different tuck box and a stamp on the Ace of Spades. The last White Palekh deck I've seen was printed in 2001.

And you can definitely find modern Palekh cards on the market. There are two versions of modern Palekh cards (bridge size, standard faces, red and gold borders) produced by Piatnik in Austria. They are more or less similar to the Black Palekh cards but have simplified design and worse quality.

EDIT: Black Palekh 1937 and 1967 PCDB links added, some images added, orthography fixed.
Last edited by iDoctor on Sun Dec 14, 2014 3:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Russia

Unread postby iDoctor » Fri Dec 12, 2014 5:05 am  

ADDED: Here you can see the Original 1937 edition Joker ('Skomoroh' aka Buffoon) with a tambourine, created by P.Bazhenov, and the 1967 edition Joker ('Shut' aka Jester with 3 cards in his hand) created by E.Pashkov.

By the way - if you check attentively Pashkov's 1967 joker - you will see two Cyrillic letters Е.П. (E.P.) on the yellow part of his sleeve. This is the artists name and family name initials. :D

Palekh jokers.jpg
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