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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: Four Continents

Dondorf Luxus-Spielkarte Vier-Erdteile c.1870

Éditions Philibert: Cancan

Lightly risqué playing cards designed by Pierre Albarran and published by Éditions Philibert, 1956

Egbert Moehsnang

A postmodern juxtaposition of traditional hand-made artisan technique with abstract graphical design...


Mitelli ‘Gioco di Passatempo’

Il Gioco di Passatempo contains 40 figurative playing cards depicting moral virtues and vices, dated 1690

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Mitelli ‘Gioco di Passatempo’

Giuseppe Maria Mitelli (1634-1718) designed and published at least 2 card games.

Hafez Fortune Telling Cards

Fortune Tellers use the Hafez Cards by interpreting the Hāfez poems printed on the card backs when cards are selected randomly by their consultants.

The Llewellyn Tarot

The Llewellyn Tarot - Welsh tarot cards

Carreras Fortune Telling Cards

Carreras Fortune Telling Cards, 1926

Pilsen Trucofest, c.2008

Pilsen Trucofest Playing cards, Uruguay, c.2008

Bodegas Trapiche

Large sized promotional playing cards produced for Bodegas Trapiche, Argentina, c.1998.

Coimexpor, c.2008

Coimexpor Spanish-suited playing cards by Industria Gráfica Pesout, S.A., Buenos Aires, Argentina, c.2008

Cigarrillos Roldan, Peru, 1890

Cards from a fantasy publicity pack for the Peruvian tobacco company Roldan y Cia, San José 66, Lima. c.1890

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 →

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Stars

Film Star Playing Cards for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer published by De la Rue & Co., 1933.

L. P. Holmblad, c.1845

The artwork provides a fascinating insight into the creative processes at work between pencil drawings and the finished playing cards.

Modiano Patience

Patience cards published by Modiano, c.1945

Renée Sturbelle

Artistic playing cards with abstract cubist designs by Renée Sturbelle, first published by Brepols S.A., Turnhout, 1947.

The Big Deal, Cook Islands

Patia Te Pere - The Big Deal

The Fortune Teller's Deck

The Fortune Teller’s Deck designed by Neil Breeden, 1995.

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.

Quantum

Quantum playing cards were designed by Catherine Geaney in 2010 for her final year at college.

History

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

Rotxotxo Workshop Inventory

Rotxotxo Workshop Inventories, Barcelona, 1660-1797

Tarocco Bolognese

Tarocco Bolognese

Master of the Playing Cards

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

Hofamterspiel, c.1460

Hofamterspiel, c.1460

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