Vintage French Line Playing Cards
Vintage French Line Playing Cards
Found at market in Paris, we are pleased to present original souvenir Playing Cards produced exclusively for the French Line oceanliners. The classic playing card decks are complete and in their original packaging decorated with the French Line's iconic Art Deco graphics. The corners of each card are brushed in gleaming gold, elevating the decks to capture the glamor of travel on the great "floating palaces" of the French Line's fleet.
Having sailed the seven seas in style, these elegant and storied playing cards are sure to become a cherished memento from the golden age of travel.
Strictly one-of-a-kind and subject to prior sale. In very good vintage condition with minimal wear to the outer box commensurate with its age. 3.75" x 2.75". Circa 1940s. Please choose color from the drop down menu above.
Learn More about the French Line
It was an era of "floating palaces", as the great ships that made up the fleet of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (known around the world as simply the French Line) crisscrossed the seven seas. The great SS France, the Paris, the Normandie, the Île de France - all iconic ships that set a new standard in luxury travel.
Since the beginning of steam ship travel in the early 19th century, the French had always been in the background concerning ship building - overshadowed by the great British ship builders and their mighty liners. This all changed in 1912, when France completed her first prestige liner: the SS France. The impressive ship, with her very 'French style', offered a new vision in ocean liner design. Indeed, what attracted passengers the most, were the fabulous interiors of all the French Line ships.
Following the devastation of the first World War, none of the great ship-building nations had launched a ship that could match the luxury of their pre-war ocean liners. The British were satisfied with their German war prizes, and the Germans had an entire country to rebuild from scratch and couldn't afford to commission new ships. One nation was left to do this: France. So the French Line expanded their already glamorous fleet with the launch of the Île de France in 1926. Never before was there a ship with an interior like the Île. It was a 'Floating Hollywood' with a decidedly French accent. The Île de France was designed to represent the country of France on the high seas and included an entire Parisian street side café, a grand first class entrance hall and a dining room never dreamed of before - all very French, and all in the new Art Deco style.
The maiden voyage of the Île de France started off from Le Havre on June 22, 1926, and the warm send-off the ship had received in Europe was met with an equally warm welcome when she reached the United States. Many Americans had grown tired of the old style ocean liner and they fell in love with the new-style interiors of the ship they renamed simply, the Île.
By 1939, another World War broke out and almost every ship was taken over by their countries' navy. The Île was docked at Pier 88 in New York harbor, next to the French Line's new flag ship, the fastest, most luxurious ship ever built in the French Line fleet - the Normandie. The Île was not used by the French during the war, but instead was turned over to the British as a troop-transport ship and made several runs for them until she was decommissioned and handed back to the French Line in 1947. After the war, the Île de France underwent an extensive remodel and was again the prime ship of the French Line fleet when she went back into service in 1949. She was still the ship of choice for the rich and famous.
The French Line fleet continued to sail the great oceans around the world, very profitably. But by the end of the 1950s, air travel had begun to take many of the ocean liners' passengers. From the 1950s to the 1960s, transatlantic ocean liner service seemed to vanish at a rapid pace and by 1959, the once mighty Île de France was sold to Japan to be scrapped. She was renamed the Furansu Maru for this sole voyage and left Le Havre for the last time to meet her fate. Interestingly, before she was scrapped, she was hired by a Hollywood film crew who partially sank the ship and used her in the disaster film 'The Last Voyage'. Once filming was complete, the Japanese scrappers raised the vessel and towed her to the scrap yard.