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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 →

Dondorf's “Stuart Period”

Another of Dondorf's beautiful period costume decks, this example is subtitled “Stuart period”.

Wüst: Oval Patience No.240

C. L. Wüst Oval Patience Karten No. 240, beautifully printed by chromolithography, c.1910

Taro Okamoto (1911-1996)

Japanese artist Taro Okamoto (1911-1996) was noted for his abstract and avant-garde paintings and sculpture.


Russian “Maya” playing cards

“Maya” playing cards were designed by Russian artist V. M. Sveshnikov and first published by The Colour Printing Plant, St Petersburg, in 1975.

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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 →

Warburg Luxus Bridgekort

“Luxus Bridgekort” was designed by Barbara MacDonald for Warburg of Denmark in c.1930, and printed by the Universal Playing Card Co. Ltd.

Prof. Franciszek Bunsch

Prof. Franciszek Bunsch, Polish playing-card designer

Karl Gerich

Karl Gerich produced a unique range of hand-made playing cards during the period 1980-1998.

Arturs Duburs, 1942

Latvian playing cards designed by Arturs Duburs, 1941

Manufacturing Processes

Innovations in printing technologies have impacted the appearance of playing cards. View More →

Stencilling

Printing of Playing Cards ::: Stencilling can usually be detected by observing the outlines of the coloured areas which are often irregular with brush strokes discernible in the coloured areas.

Pneumatic Playing Cards

Pneumatic Playing Cards

Rotxotxo Workshop Inventory

Rotxotxo Workshop Inventories, Barcelona, 1660-1797

Manufacture of Cards

Article about Manufacture of Playing Cards, 1825: pasting, stencilling, polishing, cutting, etc.

Naipes La Banca

Naipes La Banca, Argentina c.1970-85

Mesmaekers & Moentack c1860

Mesmaekers & Moentack, c1860

Ormond Printing Co. Ltd

Ormond Printing Co. Ltd

C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen 1852-85

C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen 1852-85

Cartomancy

Playing cards are used for fortune-telling, predicting the future or even as a psychological adjunct to folk medicine and therapy. The tradition goes back many centuries.

Oliver Mundy tarot

Original Tarot designs in Italian Renaissance style by Oliver Mundy

Italian tarot cards, c.1820

Italian tarot cards, Lamperti (Milan) c.1820

Tarocco Bolognese

Tarocco Bolognese

Roche Playing Cards

Roche Advertising Playing Cards

Carreras Fortune Telling Cards

Carreras Fortune Telling Cards, 1926

Naipes La Estrella, c.1954

Naipes La Estrella Spanish-suited playing cards made for BOLS gin by Igor Domicelj, Buenos Aires, c.1954

Monarch Bicycle, 1895

Monarch Bicycle playing cards are an early example of non-standard designs used for advertising, 1895.

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