Collectible Cards: The Playing Card Art of Arthur Szyk
In the 1930s, the Polish-born artist created the four Kings, four Queens (though not all were actually queens) and four Jacks. In his inimitable style, the portraits extol great leaders in Jewish history (though some are lesser known). Spades are King Saul, Queen Esther and Judah Maccabee; clubs are King David, Judith and Bar-Kochba; hearts are King Solomon, Ruth and John of Giscala (a Zealot leader in the Roman war); diamonds, King Hezekiah, Deborah and Simon bar Giora. All are handsome, somber and bejeweled, wearing crowns or headdresses. But there are differences: Judah Maccabee is holding a spear and shield; Ruth, a convert is the only figure who is blonde.
The publication price of the deluxe limited-edition box set is quite high, however, $895 (www.szyk.com). It includes a handcrafted box of Japanese blue silk rayon and leather; a suite of 12 limited-edition, fine-art prints; the collector’s deck; a player’s deck; and the companion volume. Happy Purim!