Raja Ravi Varma Playing Cards

Art history/ Historiography

Raja Ravi Varma Playing Cards

Randall, Jon

Mr. Jon Randall, who happened to find Raja ravi Varma playing cards during one of his purchases of old playing cards at an auction house in the U.K. was generous enough to add some significant insights as well as scanned images of the cards to Mr. Gordhandas' article on 'Playing Cards by Raja Ravi Varma.'- Asia InCH

On purchasing a lot of ‘old playing cards’ at an auction house in the U.K. I was aware the lot included a mix of cards, some with Indian court cards, but having arrived late I was more concerned with checking out the French cards in the lot that had initially attracted me. The lot cost more than anticipated, but I was a happy man carrying a small box of cards to my car. Instead of tackling the 2 hour drive home immediately I eagerly looked through every card and sorted the packs out correctly. I’d not noticed the Ace of Spades to the Indian pack in my brief viewing of the lot prior to the auction ... Ravi Varma Press, Bombay. Interesting I thought, a new name to me and one of only a handful of Indian packs I’d seen. Amongst the mix of cards in my box I sorted one complete pack with an elephant on the back of the cards, it includes the joker and is in excellent condition, 11 cards (3S - KS) of the same court and back design in more used condition, another pack missing the 8H and including several faults with different court cards and an Indian girl as the back design, and a single pip card (6H) with a 3rd different back design of what to me looks like an Indian deity sitting in a flower.

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