Altenburg-Stralsunder-Customers have all the Cards

Let‘s Play!

„18, 20, Null, Pass!“ When Skat is played in Germany, cards from Altenburg-Stralsunder are the ones most often used. It doesn‘t matter if it‘s children playing „Old Maid,“ professionals playing Bridge at the club, or even „underwater Skat“ for the Guinness Book of World Records, Altenburg-Stralsunder is the brand of choice; equally at home with casual pick-up games or professionals. Quality and tradition are the hallmarks of Altenburg-Stralsunder cards.

Frequent management changes and shareholder disaffection, led in 1996 to the bankruptcy of Altenburg-Stralsunder, AG, one of the oldest public companies in Germany. The name and trademarks of the firm were taken over by the firm, ITP Ton- und Bildträger GmbH, owned by the entrepreneur Karl Blatz. With a new management team and time-tested card-making skills, the new firm, ASS Spielkarten Verlag GmbH, has climbed back to the top of the field. Compared to 1998, the subsidiary of ITP has seen revenue growth of 28.4%.

Specialty Business again handled directly

Since the beginning of 1997, Card production and management has been handled „in house“ with an experienced team from a new location in Steinenbronn. Until this year, however, the Specialty business continued to be a part of the sister firm, Schmid Spiel + Freizeit GmbH. This changed on January 1, 1999 when this side of the business was once again taken over by ASS Spielkarten Verlag GmbH.

The construction of a new business organization specifically concerned with the wholesale and self-service areas has just about been completed. Peter Müller has been in place as Key Account Executive (Northern District) since January 1, 1999. On April 1, 1999 a second Key Account Executive with substantial card background was named for the Southern area. Richard Halasz took over on December 1, 1998 as Product Development and Marketing Manager solely responsible for Altenburg-Stralsunder products. Office Services have been strengthened by Iris Beuttler, who is responsible for contract fulfillment. The firm, Gebr. Hohaus, OHG serves the self-service area, while retail sales are handled by the firm Busch GmbH & Co. KG.

CEO Volker Haselwarter expects that the activities initiated during the last two years will result in a stronger presence in the Specialty areas following the successful construction of the advertising and commercial businesses. In particular, he wants to return the familiar „Heart Ace“ symbol to its previous prominent position using his 12-years of experience in the toy and game industry with the ITP Group.

An important element in fulfilling this goal is an attractive assortment of traditional cards and a comprehensive program for children, complemented with a new line of products for family card games by familiar authors. The name „Altenburg-Stralsunder“ is synonymous for high quality. This reputation is built on clear markings, magnificent colors of the card faces, beauty and elegance which captivate the refined player at first glance.

Playing Cards as an excellent adversiting medium.

The advertising sector is a substantial revenue-generating branch as never before. This is because playing cards are without doubt one of the most interesting advertising media. Cards are flexible, useful, environmentally friendly, and attractively priced. They function much better as an advertising medium than other similarly-priced alternatives. Except when used by „professionals,“ they are especially long lived. Quality cards will last and serve their advertising function each time they are used, whether when held in one‘s own hand or viewed in the hand of an opponent or partner. Imagination is the only limitation to how they can be used: both sides can be used in promotions and they can be laid out however you wish. The Club Jack can hold a beer in his hand and a current politician can be depicted as an historical figure. The minimum order is 300 packs which can be printed in one to five colors. Especially prized are specialties such as classical card packs in leather or wood with a special advertising message.

Traditional Art of the Card Maker.

The firm uses time-tested production methods and traditional card-making skills. Modern machinery assures that Altenburg-Stralsunder cards can hold their own in the competitive playing card market for cards of similar cost. Quality packaging, careful production, and a special card coating technology make genuine Altenburg-Stralsunder cards particularly nice to hold and smooth in play. And hands, moist with the excitement of play, will not be left with the color of the trump suit on them. Durability tests have shown that players using Altenburg-Stralsunder cards have nothing to fear.
It is estimated that approximately 100 million card packs are produced in Germany each year. The majority are the classic Skat packs. About 80% of card players play with three players and regularly. Rummy and the regional games such as Tarot, Sheepshead, Pinochle, and Doppelkopf also have their following, especially in southern Germany. About 2/3 of the total production is in standard cards and 1/3 is specialty cards. At the present time, Altenburg-Stralsunder cards are primarily sold in the German-speaking areas of Europe. Scandinavia is also a significant sales area. Expansion is being considered especially in the southern areas of Europe where card playing is even more common than in Germany. The Steinenbronner Factory produces 12 million pieces per year and an expansion to 18 million is anticipated. A variety of political, social, and economic organizations are important customers in addition to the traditional specialty customers such as toy and department stores. Altenburg-Stralsunder is not worried about the future of playing cards. Card playing is forever because it facilitates communication, friendship, and good entertainment.

The History of Altenburg-Stralsunder Playing Cards

1765 The engraver Johann Caspar Kern receives permission to found a playing card factory in Stralsund. The first products offered were „Fine Playing for Hombre.“ 1832 the brothers Otto and Bernhard Bechstein found the Altenburger Playing Card Factory under a special grant from the Saxon Duke of Altenburg. Offerings included cards for Whist, Tarot, and children‘s cards among others. These two firms formed the pillars of the „United Altenburger and Stralsunder Playing Card Company“ which was formed in 1931. The unification of these two firms also generated a new logo, the Heart Ace which remains unchanged since that time. After the Second World War, the firm moved its headquarters to Mannheim and then in 1956 to Leinfelden near Stuttgart. Numerous management changes and shareholder disaffection followed by substantial losses drained the company so that it was forced to sell its playing card museum to the state of Baden-Würtemberg and the city of Leinfelden-Echterdingen. Under the name „German Playing Card Museum,“ it displays today the largest playing card display in Germany. 1996 Altenburger AG declares bankruptcy. On January 11, 1996, the name and trademarks of the firm were taken over by the firm, ITP Ton- und Bildträger GmbH, owned by the entrepreneur Karl Blatz. With a new management team and time-tested card-making skills, the new firm, ASS Spielkarten Verlag GmbH with its headquarters in Steinenbronn has secured 35 jobs. Under the leadership of Eberhard Wecker and Volker Haselwarter, a new competitive firms has been established.

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