Alberto Vargas Playing Cards | Web Appraisal | Charleston

GUEST: I found them at my grandparents’ house. They were gonna put them up in the estate
sale and I thought they were neat and said can I have these? APPRAISER: Had you ever seen your grandparents
play cards with them? GUEST: Not with these, no. APPRAISER: Not with these. GUEST: Regular decks, yeah. APPRAISER: Not with these sexy cards. These cards show the work of a very well-known,
20th century artist, a Peruvian artist, names Alberto Vargas. He was very famous in the 1940s. He worked with Esquire magazine. He had an incredibly long and varied career
and this was his specialty. He painted these beautiful pictures using
airbrush of the ideal women, at least as the sensibilities of the 1940s and 50s saw them. His work appeared on all kinds of things:
on posters, in magazines, in movies. The last and probably one of the most famous
of all his designs was the cover he did for an album by The Cars in 1979, which was just
a few years before his death. He was known for these sweet, sexy images,
but this is the first time that I’ve seen them on playing cards. GUEST: Wow, really? APPRAISER: And their condition is wonderful. If you look here, you can see that this was
a set that was given out by a company in Cleveland, Ohio. Electro-Hercules Steel Company. They were used as a trade promotion. The card cover is actually designed like a
book. It’s metal. And that’s what I think has kept them in such
great shape. If you look at the design on the back of the
cards, it’s very 1950s and I think that these probably date from around 1953. The back of the cards show the masks of comedy
and tragedy. I’m sure that this same design was used on
many different types of playing cards. In this case, it just happens to be the work
of Alberto Vargas. Have you ever played card with them? GUEST: Yeah, maybe like once. APPRAISER: Yeah? GUEST: And then I thought there was something
special about them. I didn’t wanna ruin them. APPRAISER: I think that was a good decision. The last of these cards that I could find
that sold at auction sold for $500. GUEST: Wow

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