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Russian Criminal Playing Cards

Cards in a Box, 2018
195 SEK
In stock for immediate delivery
SWEDEN SHIPPING Shipping Class 1 = 40 SEK
Shipping Class 2 = 60 SEK
Shipping Class 3 = 90 SEK EUROPE SHIPPING Shipping Class 1 = 100 SEK (approx 10 EUR)
Shipping Class 2 = 150 SEK (approx 15 EUR)
Shipping Class 3 = 200 SEK (approx 20 EUR) OUTSIDE EUROPE SHIPPING Shipping Class 1 = 150 SEK (approx 15 USD)
Shipping Class 2 = 200 SEK (approx 20 USD)
Shipping Class 3 = 300 SEK (approx 30 USD)

NOTE: You can buy as many items you want within the same shipping class. Read more » ×

Each suit in this pack of cards has been taken from a different deck hand-made by criminals in Soviet prisons during the 1980s. Their unique designs were formed with hand-cut stencils using ‘inks’ mixed from soot and blood. In Soviet prisons card playing was prohibited. Cards were constructed using everyday materials sourced from prison life. The respect commanded by any Russian criminal was directly related to his ability to play, and win, at cards. A thief could stake anything in a card game, a finger, an arm, the life of another inmate, or even his own. If he lost, the debt had to be paid immediately. The penalty for defaulting was expulsion, a forcibly applied tattoo or in some cases, death.

Confiscated and destroyed by the authorities, original decks are difficult to obtain and often incomplete. The authentic designs reproduced here have been taken from original cards collected over the last ten years.

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