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Suit System:F
Recommended name:   Nordic pattern
Alternative name:   Finish pattern


The Danish playing card company Adolph Wulff was active from 1894 to 1948. Most of the Wulff packs (if not all of them) have been manufactured by other companies abroad, a substantial number of them by Dondorf in Frankfurt. About 1895 Dondorf produced the “Luxus-kort No. 75” for Adolph Wulff which was available on the Danish market for more than 30 years. A few years later Dondorf exported the same pattern (even with the same back showing the initials AW) to a short lived company at Stockholm, Sweden. This was the start of a long period of production of this pattern in Sweden. It was copied by several companies and marketed with small modifications until the 1960s. The early altered Swedish version had been exported and, for a certain time, produced in Finland. Here the pattern can be found as the standard for playing cards still today (now it is produced in Austria), the reason why it is sometimes named the Finnish pattern in the literature. Since 1915 the primal version has been pro-duced in Norway for about 10 years as well.

Characteristic features

Jacks: The Jack of Clubs is in full armour and holds a sword. The Jacks of Spades and Hearts hold a halberd. The Jack of Diamonds blows a clarion. Queens: None of the Queens is crowned. All Queens except the Queen of Clubs wear a cape with an ermine collar. The Queen of Clubs looks into a hand mirror while touching her hair. The Queen of Spades is fiddling with a necklace. The Queen of Hearts looks at a bird perched on her hand. The Queen of Diamonds holds a closed fan in her left hand. Kings: All Kings wear a cape with an ermine collar. Three of them hold a sceptre in the right hand while the King of Diamonds holds an orb. The early version being designed in Sweden showed some alterations. Now the Queens are crowned. The Queens of Clubs and Hearts are left looking foolish without the mirror and the bird. The Queen of Diamonds holds her fan open. Jacks of Clubs and Diamonds hold a halberd as the others did before. Later the coloration has been altered. The Kings of Spades and Diamonds switched their suit signs. At least the Jack of Clubs and the Queen of Spades were exchanged for those of another pattern.


French suits, 52 cards, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, ten to two (or 53 and more cards depending on the number of Jokers).

Some makers

B. Dondorf, Frankfurt (for Adolph Wulff, Kopenhagen and Svenska Kortfabriken Gullberg & Nyholm, Stockholm); Lithografiska AB (LAB), Norrköping; AB Jacob Bagges Söner, Stockholm; N.W. Damm & Son, Oslo; Oy Tilgmann AB, Helsinki; Esselte Öbergs AB, Eskilstuna; Ferd. Piatnik & Söhne, Wien.

Some references

Jerremalm, Ali: Nagot om den nordiskaspelkortsbilden, Kartofilen 2/99, p.8ff; Berry, John (?): From Start to Finnish, Playing Card World No.76, May 1994, p.27ff; Jerremalm, Ali: The Playing Card Vol. XXII,1994, S.79ff; and: Die Spielkarten inSchweden 1892-1992, Köln 1996; Nordheim, Terje: Norske kortleikar 1752-1990, Oslo 1991, p.30f; Jensen, K. Frank: Playing Cards in Denmark, Ouroboros 1984, Sec.6; Hoffmann, Detlev and Dietrich, Margot: Die Dondorf’schen Luxus-Spielkarten, Dortmund1981, p.184f.

Nordic pattern

Top three rows: The primal Nordic pattern, to be found in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
Forth row and fifth row left: The altered courts of the early Swedish and the Finnish version
Fifth row: Fifth row right and bottom row: the altered or exchanged courts of the late Swedish version.

The International Playing-Card Society 03/2013 KST

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