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Suit System:F
Recommended Name:  Latvian pattern.


These designs were selected from a competition in 1923. The artist was Stefans Bercs. Some cards show persons related tothe "Bear Slayer" saga written by the Latvian poet Andrejs Pumpurs, with Lacplecis the bear hunter on JS. Others show people wearing traditional Latvian costumes.

The cards became the most popular in Latvia until the end of World War II (before the second Soviet occupation).

In 1959 these cards were published again in Sweden. The design was revised by Normunds Hartmanis. The publisher "Daugava" issued the pack for Latvians in exile. The issuer's name was placed on AS, as is usual on Latvian cards.

There is a difference between the designs produced in Latvia and those made in Sweden. All ornamental swastika signs on court ards and Aces in the Swedish version are modified (on AS, JS) or eliminated (on KS, QS, QS, JS). The jokers in the two packs are also different.

In the Swedish version all cards have a frame; on Latvian cards only the court cards have a frame. The ornaments on AS and AS are similar in both versions. According to a law the Latvian Red Cross had been receiving dividends from the production and sale of playing-cards since 1922. Therefore a special sign and stamp were placed on AS. During war time the Red Cross sign on AS was replaced by the logo of Tautas palidziba (The Folk's Help), and in Sweden by the logo of Apgads Daugava (Daugava Publishers). Daugava is the biggest river in Latvia.


King (Kungs), Queen (Dama), Jack (Sulainis) and Ace (Duzis) with numerals. In Latvia usually 52 cards + 1 Joker, or packs with less numerals: 10-6, or 10-7. In Sweden usually 52 + 2 identical Jokers.


In Latvia until the end of WW2:

Hermann Ussleber, c.1925;
Ernst Plates S.A. Lithography, c.1930;
Latvian Printing House of Bonds, c.1942;
P. Mantinieks' Institute of Cartography;
all in Riga.

In Sweden:

Öberg, Eskilstuna.


Ulrich Knüpfer: Vom Baltikum zum Balkan, Köln, 2004, pp. 32,33,37.


Illustration of Latvian Ace of Hearts (jpg 258 x 392)
AS from a pack by Plates S.A., Riga, c.1935.

Latvian Pattern

Illustration of Latvian pattern (jpg 958 x 1097)
Top three rows: Ernst Plates S.A., Riga, c.1935;
bottom three rows: Öberg, Eskilstuna, c.1960.

The International Playing-Card Society 3/2007 JM

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Last updated 9th September 2010