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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Deck the Halls » » Pictorial Review: Alexandre Dumas Classics decks (Bona Fide) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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*** Bona Fide Playing Cards ***

In a previous feature (link), I introduced designer Karin Yan and the rest of her team from Bona Fide Playing Cards. Bona Fide is Latin for "in good faith", and refers to that which is genuine, real, and sincere. In Karin's own words, "that's exactly what this project intends to be: a genuine union between the genuine love for art in general, and beautiful and unique playing cards in particular, covering a wide range of themes and styles." In this review series, I'm covering Bona Fide's newest decks, which include Nouveau Gemmes (the final installment of the beautiful Nouveau Series), King's Game (a stylish chess themed deck currently being funded on Kickstarter), and the subject of this review: Alexandre Dumas Classics (a two-deck tribute to The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers).

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*** ALEXANDRE DUMAS CLASSICS DECKS ***

Alexandre Dumas is a French fiction writer, a literary giant who has the distinction of being one of the most widely read authors, with his works translated into almost 100 languages. He's known for his historical novels of high adventure, with the two books that are arguably the most famous of his works being The Count of Monte Cristo (1845) and The Three Musketeers (1844). He wrote a very large body of fiction, but these two works stand out as the two most recognized titles, and were the inspiration behind these next two decks.

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These two famous novels are the subject of a wonderful tribute from Bona Fide Playing Cards in the form of a lovely set of two companion decks, which will not only please card collectors, but will especially be loved and appreciated by those who enjoy literature. The two decks have a matching style, but a different colour scheme, and naturally they each reflect the two different works of fiction, with the characters, setting and theme of each reflected in the Monte Cristo and the Three Musketeers decks respectively.

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The Count of Monte Cristo deck

The Count of Monte Cristo Playing Cards honours Dumas' book of the same title, a massive work of classic fiction with many literary themes that include romance, loyalty and betrayal, justice and mercy, revenge and forgiveness. It is set against the historical backdrop of the historical events of 1815–1839 in Western Europe, particularly France and Italy. The main plot concerns the young man Edmond Dantes, who is wrongly imprisoned, but after escaping from jail becomes very wealthy, and undertakes revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment, with far-reaching consequences.

All of these elements have influenced the deck's design, starting with the lush symbolism on the extravagant tuck box.

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The historical and geographical setting is reflected not only in the tuck box and card backs, but also in the court cards and Jokers, which all include elements drawn from descriptions included in the book.

Once again I am especially smitten by the card backs, which feature exquisite ornamentation and detail, and yet focus on simple shapes. Each of the Aces is also worthy of close scrutiny, with oversized pips and details drawn from the novel's themes and concepts.

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The main characters of the novel all make an appearance on the detailed court cards, including the main character Edmond Dantès (King of Spades) and another character, Mercédès Mondego (Queen of Diamonds).

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Characters featured from the novel are the following: (in order of King, Queen, and Jack)
Spades: Edmond Dantès (The Count of Monte Cristo), Haydée, Abbé Faria
Hearts: Fernand Mondego (Count de Morcerf), Mercédès Mondego, Albert de Morcerf
Clubs: Gérard de Villefort, Héloïse de Villefort, Edward de Villefort
Diamonds: Baron Danglars, Madame Danglars, Benedetto (Prince Cavalcanti)

There's some wonderful information about the book's setting, plot, and each of the characters on the Bona Fide website here.

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The background artwork on each of the court cards has small details that captures the symbolic elements of each character's traits, and this is also done with the Aces. Here's a closer look at the main character, Edmond Dantes:

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The number cards have an elegant and court-like look, with the stylish pips and minimalist design inspired by actual playing cards from the 19th century. This gives them a sense of historical authenticity, and also makes them very practical for use in playing card games.

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The Jokers feature these characters: Bertuccio & Abbé Busoni; and Sinbad the Sailor & Luigi Vampa

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The Three Musketeers deck

The Three Musketeers Playing Cards honours the well-known book of the same name by Alexandre Dumas. In this historical adventure, the young man d'Artagnan heads for Paris to join the Musketeers of the Guards, and gets involved in the affairs of state and court after becoming friends with the three musketeers Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. This novel is set in 17th century France and England, and has literary themes that include courage and honour, ambition and treason.

Just as with the Monte Cristo deck, evidence of these themes already finds its way onto the tuck box artwork.

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The historical and geographical setting of The Three Musketeers is reflected not only in the tuck box and card backs, but also in the court cards and Jokers, all of which include elements drawn from descriptions in the novel.

The card backs have a different design than the Monte Cristo deck, and also a different colour scheme, with the red and yellow combination giving a very plush and elegant look.

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The main characters of the book again make an appearance on the detailed court cards. Featured here are D’Artagnan (King of Spades) and one of the three musketeers, Athos (King of Hearts).

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In this case the featured characters are: (in order of King, Queen, and Jack)
Spades: D’Artagnan, Constance Bonacieux, Count de Rochefort (The man from Meung)
Hearts: Athos (Count de la Fère), Milady de Winter, Cardinal Richelieu
Clubs: Aramis, Queen Anne of Austria, Duke of Buckingham
Diamonds: Porthos, The Lover, The executioner of Lille

Once again, some excellent information about the book's setting, plot, and each of the characters featured on the cards can be found on the Bona Fide website here.

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The background artwork on each of the court cards has small details that captures the symbolic elements of each character's traits, and this is also done with the Aces. Here's a closer look at the main character, D'Artagnan:

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The number cards have an elegant and court-like look, with the stylish pips and minimalist design inspired by actual playing cards from the 17th century - again to match the book. This gives them a sense of historical authenticity, and also makes them very practical for use in playing card games.

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The Jokers feature these character pairs: Planchet & Grimaud; Bazin & Mousqueton.

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Taken together, this two deck set is a superb and fitting tribute to a wonderful writer, and two wonderful books!


*** CONCLUSION ***

Recommendation

So are the decks from Bona Fide Playing Cards for you?

I've really enjoyed the Nouveau series of playing cards, and the new Nouveau Gemmes would seem to be the best yet. The Alexandre Dumas decks are totally different again, going in a literary direction, and incorporate many elements from the books. The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers decks show that designer Karen Yan not only has ability to make ornate designs, but also incorporate thoughtful symbolism and content based on characters and themes drawn from classic novels.

That same creativity, depth of thought, and artistic design is also present in the new King's Game decks from Bona Fide Playing Cards, which are a wonderful tribute to the classic game of chess. These decks are sophisticated and classy in every way, and yet are also very practical and playable. They will especially be appreciated by anyone who loves the classic board game, and would make a terrific gift for gamers, or even for yourself if you love card games - as I do!

It's also worth mentioning that the quality of Karin's artwork and design is matched by the quality of printing and card stock, since Bona Fide Playing Cards only uses industry leaders like Expert Playing Cards to produce their decks of cards. I own many decks by EPCC, and they are all fantastic. My respect and admiration for Bona Fide Playing Cards only continues to grow, and with the current King's Choice project, I think we are perhaps going to see their best yet!

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Want to learn more? Visit Bona Fide Playing Cards:
Official website: bonafideplayingcards.com
Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr

Direct links for where the decks featured in this review series can be found:
- King's Game (Kickstarter)
- The Count of Monte Cristo
- The Three Musketeers
- Nouveau Gemmes

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