pick a card, any card

i was fortunate to have taken chris van allsberg’s pen and ink classes at risd, in which you spent a great deal of time drawing—and i mean the most exacting kind of drawing. if you are familiar with his work, you know what i mean. i wasn’t terribly good, though i believe i was on the other side of competent. mind you, this was thirty years ago and long  before chris had attained the stature he holds today. while drawing, i would often play a game with myself. i was using a dip pen then and occasionally a blob of ink would fall where it wasn’t supposed to. if this happened, i would stare at that blob and wonder what drawing could emerge from it. a face, a hand, an image that would come from the imagination rather than drawing what i saw. when i bought these cards, this memory returned to me. i have written about similar playing cards before but what makes this deck special is that each card is hand-drawn and unique. each card is a unique work of art. it’s a folk art deck and  the cards, with the exception of the face cards, exhibit the most original depiction of each suit. every card is a canvas Levitra that tells a story: the fishermen; men riding donkeys; fencers and more. it’s like exploring someone’s truly wonderful imagination.
i don’t have an interesting story about these cards. i was not rummaging in an attic. i was not at some far-flung flea market. alas, they were found on ebay. evil ebay. it’s a love/hate relationship. i recall visiting a bookshop, a small one upstate, at a time when my partner still joined me in the hunt— a time long ago. i discovered a book with an alvin lustig jacket, one from the new direction series. lovely. not sure which one but they’re always hard to find and this one had no price. i brought it over to the dealer and he told me to wait a moment. he went to his computer—this was very early internet days—and brought up bookfinder.com. he typed in the title and voilà, a dozen examples of the book appeared. five dollars to fifty five. i was blown away. the search was forever altered. ebay has refined its search engine and now proposes ‘you might like.’ among the search results appear, i generally opt for ‘other items from seller.’ that’s how i found these cards. needless to say, i was in awe. i hope you are, too.


10 Comments Leave us a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. Chris Van Allsberg ? Niceeeeeee

    Comment by Stacy Z — 10/02/2012 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  2. PUFF!! They are very impressive!! It is an excellent work + I never saw something like that ever! I really enjoy them!

    Good Vibes!

    Comment by Gabriel Benderski — 10/02/2012 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  3. wow… yes, impressive is the word. and jaw-dropping. i’ve never seen anything like this either…


    Comment by agnes szucs / iiiinspired — 01/07/2012 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  4. these are so very wonderful. i work on old playing cards myself.. but i’ve clearly got a long way to go to match these!! http://portercolline.com/2012/06/14/cards/

    Comment by misshill — 20/07/2012 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  5. Hi!
    These cards are great! I first ran into them on ephemera assemblyman.http://assemblyman-eph.blogspot.com/2009/05/nursery-rhymes-playing-cards.html
    Are you responsible for that blog, too? I notice there haven’t been any posts there since May of 2010.
    Actually, looking again, these seem to be different! The fish…Hmmm, weird connection!

    Comment by Kurt Davis — 17/09/2012 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  6. I love these. thanks

    Comment by Annie Schempp — 19/09/2012 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  7. @Kurt Davis, isn’t that amazing- the two packs. Did you contact the person with the other deck? What a fun thing to do with a deck of cards. Reminds me of the person who draws tiny images on matchbook covers.

    Comment by Sara — 24/11/2012 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  8. [...] via http://amassblog.com/?p=1789 [...]

    Pingback by AMASSBLOG » pick a card, any card | Doozgle.com — 15/06/2013 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  9. [...] via http://amassblog.com/?p=1789 [...]

    Pingback by AMASSBLOG » pick a card, any card | Doozgle.com — 15/06/2013 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  10. these are fabulous. SO jealous of your lucky discovery – so hard to do these days. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by leslie — 22/06/2013 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

Leave a comment