A Complete Modern Recreation
What is on offer on this campaign is a deck of playing cards containing a modern recreation of the 1500 Topkapi deck. The reproduction built on the design principles, graphical elements and color schemes of the 41 publicly known original cards from the Topkapi deck as closely as possible. The whole deck of 56 cards was recreated from scratch using vector graphics all the way, and includes 15 lost or inaccessible cards. The use of abstract designs helped to provide a consistent and homogenous look and feel for the deck.
The deck on offer will be rather large (71 x 190 mm including a 4mm white border), which is 75% of the enormously large Topkapi deck. All design work on the cards has been completed and are ready for printing by a professional card printer. 200 decks will have to be printed in order to allow a reasonable pricing for the deck. If you want to support my project, you can pledge 38 Euros plus shipping (9 Euros worldwide) to make this possible. Any decks sold after the end of the campaign will come at the same price.
What you will get
You will get a deck printed by a professional card printer, consisting of 56 cards with reconstructions of the Topkapi Type 1 deck in a regular playing card box, together with an 8 page leaflet. Here is a test print from the printing company, that has just come in:
If you look closely you might see that the photos actually show patchworks. I had to glue together bits from four smaller cards for each sample, because there is no cheap test prints available for the unusual format of the Mamluk cards. The final cards will of course come as one.
The card images come from vector graphics. That means they are arbitrarily scalable, and all the details are extremly accurate.The images will be uploaded at 1200 dpi for printing in order not to miss any detail.
Some of the stretch goals that have been announced will now come with the regular awards of the campaign. You will now get reconstructions of five extra cards that are part of the Topkapi lot, but originally come from different decks. These ards look slightly different and had been added to make up for missing cards in the original deck. You will now get a total of 61 cards, including these:
Furthermore I will add a large sheet of paper showing the design principles of the deck. The suits are highlighted with seperate colors.
You can now click on one of the pledge buttons, or continue reading if you would like more information about mamluk cards and my project before you decide. Scroll further down to see images of all the cards.
Some background info follows here ...
The Mother of all European Playing Cards
All European playing cards as well as tarot cards can be traced back to the so-called "Mamluk pattern". The pattern is named after the Mamluk empire that reigned in Egypt from ca. 1250 to 1517. Card decks following this pattern contained 52 or 56 cards total. There were four suits with 13 or 14 cards each. Each suit contained pip cards from 1 to 10, a king and two or three deputies.
Following the islamic tradition of not showing images of people and hardly any images of anything else, decks following the mamluk pattern are almost entirely abstract.They show suit symbols similar to the Spanish or Italian pattern as well as to common tarot cards.
You can read more about the historical background on my website here.
The finest example of mamluk style decks is also the only one that has survived almost complete. It is known as the game of kings and deputies (mulûk wa-nuwwâb), or the Topkapi deck, and it roughly dates to 1500. It is located in the Topkapi museum in Istanbul. It consists of 48 remaining cards originially belonging to three different decks, which have been rearranged into one single deck. 43 cards, the vast majority, belong to the so-called "type 1" deck of mamluk cards, 41 of which are known to the public. Most of these type 1 cards have been reproduced as facsimiles by Jan Bauwens and published by Aurelia Press in the 1970s. This publication, which has been out of print and hard to obtain for decades now, included reconstructions of the lost cards side by side with facsimiles of the remaining cards.
More detailed and comprehensive information about the deck and its structure can be found here.
The New Game of Kings and Deputies
A combination of facsimiles together with reconstructions of missing cards (like the Bauwens facsimile) results in a somewhat inconsistent look and feel. What I always wanted for myself instead was a neat reproduction with a consistent and homogenious look and feel.
To achieve this all the cards had to be recreated from scratch. I also wanted to create something that the people from the Mamluk period would have liked as well, and probaby would have done themselves in a similar way, if they had had the technical tools.
Read more about the ideas and design principles that I followed when making the deck here.
If there should be significantly more backers than needed, some little extras will be added to the rewards.
10000 Euros pledged: An A3-size sheet containing small images of the cards in the mamluk deck. A different color scheme will be used, that emphasiszes the suit symbols and produces a stronger contrast with the other decorative patterns as well as making a clearer distinction between the different suit by using suit-specific colors. Now part of the regular rewards!
13000 Euros pledged: 5 more cards per deck, namely the four type 2 cards and the one type 3 card that where used to make up for missing cards in the original Topkapi deck. These cards follow a slightly different design in general and nicely show the variations of the Mamluk pattern that existed. Now part of the regular rewards!
18000 Euros pledged: There will be a posher box for the cards than the standard playing card box. Strech goal lowered to 10000 Euros.
And this is what the cards will look like
Risks and challenges
The design of the deck is complete and only waits to be printed on professional playing card stock. Quotes from several printing companies have been obtained. There can always be problems with the printers that cause a delay the printing process. The scheduled delivery time already contains a generous buffer to take that into account. If this buffer should not be enough, then there might be a delay in sending off the rewards.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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