A charming vintage French playing cards deck published by Baptiste Paul Grimaud and dating from the 1990s. The deck includes 52 suited cards with two jokers, one blank card and a card introducing the deck. The three picture cards of each suit features an illustration of a character created by the famous Alsatian illustrator, Jean-Jacques Waltz, known as Hansi. The reverse side of each card has been decorated with a coat of arms with two lions and a crown. The deck is complete and comes in its original presentation box.
Jean-Jacques Waltz (1873 - 1951), also known as "Oncle Hansi", or simply "Hansi" ("little John") was a French artist of Alsatian origin. He was a staunch pro-French activist, and is famous for his cute drawings, some of which contain harsh critiques of the Germans of the time. He was also a French hero of both the First and the Second World Wars. Although during 1871-1919, Alsace and Lorraine were part of the German empire, many of its inhabitants remained French in sentiment. Undoubtedly Waltz was of such thoughts. He was a talented landscape artist and before the war, the French news magazine L'Illustration published his work, accompanied by articles expressing the wish to be re-united with France. In July of 1914 he was sentenced to one year in prison in Germany for making fun of German officials in a book of illustrations, but he managed to escape to France. Upon outbreak of war "Hansi" served in the French army while continuing to create patriotic illustrations. He was famous enough to have his portrait printed in several prominent magazines, even on the cover page. German magazines printed his portrait as well, but describing him as deserter, which technically speaking was correct, for being Alsatian he was a German citizen. During the war he served as translator in the French army, acquiring the rank of Lieutenant. After the war he continued his work as illustrator, this time as a French citizen in newly reunited Alsace. When war broke out again in 1940, German authorities did not forget his record in days past and J.J. Waltz wisely moved to Agen in the unoccupied zone of France. This did not help him overly much, for in 1941 he was beaten savagely by agents of the Gestapo and left for dead on his doorstep. He then left for Switzerland where he spent the rest of the war. Jean Jacques Waltz returned to France after the war and died in 1951.
Each card is 3.5" Long x 2.3" Wide
(9 cm x 6 cm).
The deck of playing cards is in excellent condition with some wear and signs of age, including light discoloration, to the box.
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Item Ref: French Alsatian Playing Cards Deck with Hansi Illustrations by Grimaud, Jean-Jacques Waltz Designs
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