The Jass card designer

Herzdame, Schiltenkönig, Kreuzbauer – thanks to graphic designer Jens Riedweg, 39, from Baar ZG, the Jasskarten are now coming in a more delicate presentation.

“I confess right at the beginning: I’m really bad at the differencer, because I still don’t know how much the individual cards count. And with the slider, I’m always happy about a good partner by my side. If anything, I play “Tschau Sepp” with my girlfriend from time to time. Nevertheless, the redrawing of the Jass cards is a matter of the heart for me, a private matter without client or merit. I was disturbed by the typography of the maps, the various fonts and scanned illustrations. You know, the drawings of the figures are around seventy years old and were once made by hand, as well as the much older inscription “Under”, “Upper” and “King” in the German set – all handmade.

The German playing cards with the symbols bells, srings, acorns and roses have been around for more than half a millennium. For the Jass, however, they have only been used for more than two hundred years. I had a lot of respect for what was already there in my work. It would never have occurred to me to alienate the subjects in such a way that they are not recognizable. Nevertheless, I built every map on the computer from scratch, drew the contours sharper, adjusted hatches. And visually difficult constellations allowed me to iron out. In the French version, the numbers are no longer placed in the symbols, but in the card corners. The crosses became round at the bottom, the hearts a little narrower. This makes the new design look more delicate.

Have you taken care that there are only men in the German cards; no queens like the French ones? I have, of course, left that at that. Most of the characters smoke or look out into the world – visually most exciting for me is the Schiltenunder. He has a pen behind his ear and a letter in his hand, looks very dynamic. With him I have the envelope new white, instead of the previous yellow; that is more coherent. Otherwise, I have not allowed myself to make any major changes. Not to immortalize myself anywhere – I thought about it for a moment, but I could resist …

Jens Riedweg

My cards are printed in Stans , so they are completely “made in Switzerland”. That’s important to me, because most sets come from abroad, from Belgium. The paper we use has a black core so that nothing shimmers through. And a special varnish ensures that the cards don’t get dirty so quickly.

Soon we will launch a special edition with a gold foil relief embossing – a somewhat unusual souvenir at an invitation, right? And Jass stamps from me have been available since autumn 2018.

With a first draft of the cards, we have organized a tournament with experienced Jassers to find out if they accept the innovations. Today I can say: No feedback in this scene is a good feedback. Only one eastern Swiss complained that this was all a bit too modern. Otherwise, there are around 30,000 sets in circulation today. At the moment I am reworking the cards of the Italian game Scopa; further on are those of Skat and Rommé, those of “Sheephead Tarock” are almost in print. Yes, I have become a playing-card specialist, so to speak. My biggest dream? That in the “Donnschtig-Jass” of Swiss television sometimes my cards are played.

Text: Christine Zwygart from Landliebe

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