R. Somerville (Playing Cards)


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The growth of the Carta Mundi Empire and other mergers, takeovers and disappearances.

Recent years have seen considerable changes to the face of the European playing card business. A number of companies have disappeared or been absorbed through take-overs, mergers or simply ceasing to trade.

CARTA MUNDI (based in Belgium) has for some time now been the largest producer of playing cards in Europe. In recent times it has pursued an active and aggressive acquistion policy resulting in takeovers or buy-outs of playing-card companies in Switzerland, Germany, the U.K and elsewhere. Carta Mundi mainly makes packs to special order for other publishers, including most of the top selling Tarot packs sold worldwide in an ever-increasing array of languages.

ALTENBURGER SPIELKARTENFABRIK (A.S.)(Germany), more recently known as SPIELKARTENFABRIK ALTENBURG (S.A.), is now part of CARTA MUNDI. Most A.S./S.A. packs are now produced to special order so the majority of packs currently offered will never be available again once current stocks sell out.

F.X. SCHMID (Germany) was absorbed by SPIELKARTENFABRIK ALTENBURG (S.A./A.S.) some years ago and is now officially part of CARTA MUNDI. Few of its designs are still available and most are likely to sell out soon. The only notable exception is their Bavarian pattern, though SCHMID's version of this pattern now carries the A.S.S. logo. (Cat Ref 13863)

BERLINER SPIELKARTEN (Germany), having joined forces with SPIELKARTENFABRIK ALTENBURG (S.A./A.S.) a few years ago, is now part of CARTA MUNDI.

A.S.S. is now part of CARTA MUNDI. The stock range has been rationalised to the extent that only a handful of the standard pattern packs previously produced now remain in print. In particular, the A.S.S. versions of the Italian regional pattern packs are disappearing rapidly.

AG MÜLLER (Switzerland) was absorbed by CARTA MUNDI a few years ago and all production transferred from Switzerland to Belgium. The result of this has been a rationalisation of the stock range with many lines being axed. Buy now while stocks last!

GAMES & PRINT SERVICES (UK) was acquired by Carta Mundi in the autumn of 2003. It does not sell its own products direct to the retail trade but specialises in making packs to special order.

NÜRNBERGER (Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag GmbH)(Germany) is now the only independent producer of playing cards left in Germany. (All others having been taken over by Carta Mundi). It has recently updated many of its standard pattern designs. Many of the older versions are in the process of finally selling out.

ITALCARDS (Italy) stopped producing playing cards some years ago. When items from the range we offer here sell out, we will not be able to replace them.

FRANCE CARTES (France) is the official name of the only major producer of playing cards left in France. (Heron and Vigno have now both been fully absorbed within France Cartes.) They still use the trade or brand name 'Grimaud' on some of their products since the name has been so closely associated with playing cards in France since the 19th century.

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Contact Details

Roderick Somerville



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R. Somerville (Playing Cards)
Place de la Mairie
F-31420 ALAN


Last Updated: 3rd March, 2004