I know , I know they were destroyed. But is there any eyewitness account or idea of the size or material of these plates..maybe just maybe some were not destroyed...I'm just thinking out loud..oh and I found this metal plate made into a cuff on ebay.. they artist found the plate at an estate sale...things that make you go hmmmm?
The images on the printing plates would be mirrored, or reversed, so that they would read correctly when printed.
The original "Pam-ABCD" decks were printed by traditional stone lithography.
The "plates" would have been large stone slabs, roughly about 3" or 4" or 5" thick, with perfectly flat, level surfaces.
These stones with specific properties all come from a place in Germany.
There would have been one stone for each individual color of ink.
They would have been large enough to hold a number of cards ganged up on each.
It could have been done with one large sheet, but depending upon the size of the press, and the size of the available cardstock, it may have required more than one "set" of stones.
(I could figure out the surface area required, and make an educated guess, but it doesn't really matter...)
Once the full run of copies was finished, it's fairly likely that the images would have been ground off, and the stones re-used for the next job.
Litho stones are like that- they are expensive, large and heavy to store, and intended for re-use over and over.
When you're finished printing your job, you sprinkle on some powdered abrasive & grind down a renewed flat, blank surface for a new job.
Of course if you anticipate another print run, you can save the stones, and avoid re-doing the prep work, but it's really a waste of potential mileage.
And the fact that there are four different versions of Pam decks very strongly suggests that the plates were discarded after each run.
It's very likely that the same stones that printed the RWS were used to print all sorts of posters, soap boxes, fliers, and any number of other things over the years.
They may even still be in use today, in some artist's studio.