DONDORF “HUNDERTJAHKARTE” Playing Cards. The most beautiful restoration of a centenary deck

This is not the first time we have seen a modern restoration of an old deck but I think this is the most beautiful restoration I have seen lately: DONDORF HUNDERTJAHKARTE.

Bernhard Dondorf was a long-lived German card maker born and based in Frankfurt who created a lithograph company and who always worked with innovative techniques. The most notable of these techniques was the chromolithography, patented in the mid-nineteenth century and which Dondorf elevated to the category of graphic art in his playing cards. This technique is based on the use of different stones (plates) to print each color. A greater number of colors meant a higher quality and detail in the result.

The Dondorf Hundertjahrkarte (Centennial Playing Cards) deck was created in 1933 to celebrate the centenary of Dondorf company coinciding, ironically, with the last year of its existence in which it was acquired by Flemming & Wiskott within a scenario of economic difficulties. This deck is, in some way, the paradigm of the techniques used by Dondorf for the creation of art on playing cards. A total of 28 colored stones were used, 12 for the reverse and 16 for the faces, making it a true visual jewel.



The court cards show detailed illustrations of characters of the nobility with medieval style attire. Kings depicting the church and the army, queens as sources of love and art and jacks linked to disciplines such as hunting, poetry or music. All framed by scenes with profuse decorations also full of detail.

For restoration two old friends of Max Playing Cards have joined forces: Mike Ratledge (United Cardists) and Lotrek (OATH Playing Cards). Lotrek has done the restoration work with his usual mastery, from high resolution images and the reprint that Weddington made in 1975 under the name “Royal Gothic”. The original dimensions of the deck (6,2cm x 9cm) have been adapted to the modern poker format (6.3cm x 8.8cm) although the German indices of the original deck have been kept: K (König), D (Dame ) And B (Bube).


ORIGINAL (left) and RESTORATION (right)

This is a restoration authorized by A.S.S., a popular card factory in Stuttgard. The printing of this deck will be carried out by Carta Mundi at their headquarters in Belgium, which, being the owner of A.S.S., are also the licensee for this restoration. Under their terms, Carta Mundi have authorized to print only 250 units of this amazing deck, a really limited print run. They will use the green back (of the two originals in green and orange) and metallic ink accents on faces and back. Carta Mundi will also gild manually the decks.




In addition, they have also authorized to create 250 decks of the Player Edition. These cards, which will be digitally printed by MPC, will have the orange back, the standard indices (J, Q, K) and a small variation in the second joker.

Both decks will be included in a special dual drawer tuck boxes in faux leather created in Greece under Lotrek’s supervision that will also be in charge of the fulfillment.



It is therefore a really beautiful piece of collection. In just three days, more than half of the units have been sold so if you want to get yours, visit the project website and raise your pledge.

It is a pity that Carta Mundi has not authorized the printing of more decks but I really hope they decide to make another edition in the future so that all collectors in the world will be able to own this beauty.

Good luck!