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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first became a part of popular culture, perhaps seen as a miniature representation of the world. Over the centuries packs of cards have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. The most interesting aspect is the artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, an exposition of artistic expression 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 →

Matarelli Transformation

Transformation playing cards designed by Adolfo Matarelli (1832-1877) and originally published by Lit. G. Payer, Florence, c.1850.

Dondorf: Club Karte No.184

B. Dondorf's Luxus Club Karte No.184

Johann Herrl, c.1815

Tarock deck made by Johann Herrl in Graz 1815


Bjørn Wiinblad

Bjørn Wiinblad (1918-2006) was a Danish painter, designer and ceramics artist

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History

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

Proverbial Cards, 1698

William Warter's Proverbial Cards, which carry illustrations of old English proverbs, were first published in 1698

Charles Cheminade Tarot

Marseille Tarot cards by Charles Cheminade of Grenoble, France, early 18th century.

16th C. cards found in Peru

16th Century Spanish Playing Cards discovered in Archaeological Dig in Peru

Peter Flötner, c.1545

Satirical Playing Cards by Peter Flötner, c.1545. The suit symbols are acorns, leaves, bells and hearts.

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 →

Siriol Clarry Playing Cards

Playing cards designed by Siriol Clarry

26th Yankee Division

This deck is often known as “Mademoiselle from Armentiers”, but the name is actually “26th Yankee Division Playing Cards”.

Las Cartas de Tacuabe

Las Cartas de Tacuabe by Manos del Uruguay, Montevideo, 2001

Jagiellonskie

Jagiellonskie Playing Cards with Polish Kings and Queens

Kimberley, c.1892-1905

Kimberley's Royal National Patriotic playing cards, c.1892-1905

Argentinian Manufacturers

List of Argentinian Playing Card Manufacturers

Amalgamated P-C Co.

The Amalgamated Playing Card Co., Ltd

J. F. Sanchez, c.1895

J. F. Sanchez - Buenos Aires c.1895

Self-Guided Tarot

Self-Guided Tarot by Cameo Victor

Italian tarot cards, c.1820

Italian tarot cards, Lamperti (Milan) c.1820

Livre du Destin

Livre du Destin, or Book of Fate, and Le Petit Cartomancien, printed by B.P.Grimaud, Paris, c.1900

The Playing Card Oracles

The Playing Card Oracles

Political

Propaganda cards, war cards and even educational cards all carry a political message... View More →

Privātā Playing Cards, 2001

Latvian Celebrity Playing Cards published by Privātā magazine, 2001

Jewish Card Game

Jewish Card Game, made in Argentina, c.1950

Anti-Fascist Propaganda

Anti-Fascist Propaganda Pack for the Siege of Leningrad, 1943

Catalan Playing Cards

With about 16% of the Spanish population and a distinct language and culture, Catalonia is one of Spain's richest and most independent-minded regions.

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