New Zealand

Cards from far off lands and bygone days!

New Zealand

Unread postby dazzleguts » Tue Dec 20, 2016 2:26 pm  

Dickinson Standard
c. 1948

Dickinson is one of three main original New Zealand card makers. A.D. Willis and Strong & Ready were the other two. They all had idiosyncratic designs.

I like the Dickinson courts for their distinctive heavy, strong faces, much like the Maori people. For me these cards are a link to the beautiful Maori portraiture by the Bohemian artist Gottfried Lindauer. The courts are quite distinctive and came in both two colours, like you see here, and a full four colours.

J.Dickinson_courts_spadeheart_small.jpg (319.09 KiB) Viewed 339 times

J.Dickinson _courts_clubdiamond_small.jpg
J.Dickinson _courts_clubdiamond_small.jpg (318.04 KiB) Viewed 339 times

These are tourist decks. I do not have the jokers. The backs show Maori women in traditional garb and a Maori sculpture from Rotorua, North Island. I could not find a specific name for this figure, but can tell you that Maori carvings were usually secular, not religious, and represented renowned ancestors. The Ace of Spades design is unique and elaborate.

J.Dickinson_backs_SA_small.jpg (145.82 KiB) Viewed 339 times

This double deck set is in a case made for a "Golden Jubilee" celebrated in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I don't know what the anniversary was for, but it has the date 1948 on it. The double deck could be of a different date, but has to be from before the 1980s when they became the Dickinson Robinson Group (DRG).

Dickinson_incase.jpg (131.25 KiB) Viewed 339 times

Dickinson appeared on the scene in the 1920s. They apparently manufactured everything that could be made from paper at the time so playing cards were not their only product.

The firm became the Dickinson Robinson Group (DRG) some time in the 1980s and the courts were reduced in size. I have a deck from that time as well so here is how the 2 decks/time periods compare. First a comparison of the 2 court cards. The DRG is in the middle, next to it's own back design.

DickinsonDRG_court_compare_small.jpg (147.7 KiB) Viewed 339 times

Next is the DRG ad card, joker and Ace of Spades. This joker is their old standard and did not change, so my decks probably had the same, though there are some custom, deck specific, joker designs as well.

DRG_ad_joker_SA_small.jpg (128.04 KiB) Viewed 339 times

Here are the pip cards where both the suit signs and index fonts differ. The newer DRG cards on the right, the older John Dickinson on the left.

Dickinson_pips_compare_small.jpg (121.92 KiB) Viewed 339 times

In the early 1990s Spicers Paper Ltd of Melbourne took over the Dickinson company and used the brand-names "Croxley" and, eventually, "Realm".

My sources for this post were the Ken Lodge Blog, The Advocate newspaper, issue Wednesday, 22 March, 1939, this New Zealand government website:, and the World Web Playing Card Museum.
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