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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first became a part of popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards have been used for games, gambling, advertising, fortune telling and even to spread political messages. The most interesting aspect is the artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, a gallery of artistic presence, grace and visual poetry.

Editor’s Picks

Playing cards have enormous educational value, with a long history and many diverse types and graphical styles from around the world... View More →

Islenzk Spil

Historical Icelandic Playing Cards designed by Tryggvi Magnússon (1900-1960)

Éditions Philibert 1954-1960

Éditions Philibert, Paris, 1954-1960

Kimberley 1892

David Kimberley & Sons, first edition, 1892

L’Utile col Diletto, 1725

Geographical and Heraldic Tarocchi cards from Bologna, 1725

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Welsh Political Figures

Welsh Political Figures playing cards

Pirate Playing Cards

The idea for these playing cards came from Vitaly Fishilevich's love of pirate stories and hidden treasure...

Inner Realms Tarot

Saleire is an Irish artist and tarot reader who wants to bring the tarot into the future for teenagers and readers to reflect this day and age.

The Big Deal, Cook Islands

Patia Te Pere - The Big Deal

Oliver Mundy tarot

Original Tarot designs in Italian Renaissance style by Oliver Mundy

Ramses II tarot

Ramses II Tarot deck was published c.1975 in conjunction with a Peruvian occult or esoteric magazine.

Chinese Fortune Telling Cards

Chinese Fortune Telling Cards

Grand Jeu de Mlle Le Normand

‘Grand Jeu de Mlle Le Normand’ fortune-telling cards


Antique playing cards reflect past eras and ways of life. So what do the oldest surviving playing cards look like? View More →

Provence Pattern

The 'Provence' pattern contains figures which go back to the fifteenth century.


Early History of Playing Cards: The Origins of Playing Cards, an on-line tutorial covering the early history of playing-cards.

Antique Swiss Playing Cards

Antique Swiss Playing Cards, c.1530

Master of the Playing Cards

Animal suited playing cards engraved by the Master of the Playing Cards, Germany, c.1455-60

Children’s Card Games

The games we play mirror the world we live in. Produced to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers, children's games reflect the fashions, social stereotypes and politics of the time. View More →

Recreo Infantil

'Recreo Infantil' children's educational cards published by Jaime Margarit, Palamós (Gerona) c.1888

Illustrated Proverbs c.1885

Jaques' Illustrated Proverbs, c.1885

Peruvian Football playing cards

Peruvian Football playing cards

Juguetes Royal

Juegos Victoria | Juguetes Royal | Card Games | Buenos Aires | Argentina

Art & Design

Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first became a part of popular culture. Over the centuries superb artwork, graphic design and self-expression has been hidden within packs of cards. View More →

Geneviève Lirola

Designed by Geneviève Lirola and printed by J. M. Simon for the Grimaud contest, 1973

Naipes La Criolla

Naipes 'La Criolla' designed by Anabella Corsi, Uruguay, 2008

Krienser Fasnachts-Jass 1988

The Krienser Fasnachts-Jass deck was designed and published by Léon Schnyder from Kriens for the 1988 Fasnacht Carnival

Gertrude Kümpel, 1989

Playing cards inspired by stained glass, designed by Gertrude Kümpel, 1989.

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