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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 imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” aspect of how things have changed.

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 →

E.P.C.S. Transformation

The English Playing Card Society's 10th Anniversary Transformation Playing Cards designed and produced by Karl Gerich, 1993

Masonic Playing Cards

A set of playing cards designed by Julien Lebleu, an original work in the history of Freemasonry.

Dondorf, 1833-1933

Bernhard Dondorf, playing card manufacturer, 1833-1933.

Latest Articles

Spicer & Detmold

Spicer & Detmold (1922-48) produced a lot of pictorial back designs. Most decks with picture backs were printed in 4 colours.

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Sands & McDougall Aces & Jokers

Sands & McDougall produced many beautiful Spade Aces and Jokers.

Sands & McDougall

Sands & McDougall, Melbourne, late 1890s-c.1970

Starościanka No.470

Cards from uncut sheet of “Starościanka” playing cards manufactured by KZWP-Trefl (Poland), 2003

Australian Brewery Advertising

Australian Brewery Advertising

Pelaco Playing Cards

‘Pelaco’ playing cards with Aboriginal characters by Sands & McDougall, Australia, c.1930

William Detmold Limited

William Detmold Limited, manufacturers of playing cards

Online Shop

A variety of classic, vintage and antique collectible playing cards from around the world to add depth to your collection View More →

Hoyle Products uncut sheet

£ 15.00

Uncut sheet of Hoyle Products Poker playing cards, c.1980

Traditional 17th Century English Playing Cards

£ 40.00

Hand-made replica 17th century English playing cards, based on original museum prints

T-Ara playing cards from South Korea

£ 9.99

T-Ara playing cards from South Korea

Souvenir of Mexico, 1960

£ 16.00

“Monuments and Images of Mexico” for the tourist souvenir market by Clemente Jacques y Cia S.A. 1960

M&M’s playing cards

£ 6.99

​M&M’s playing cards featuring the lovable M&M’s characters, 2011.

Naipes Gacelita

£ 6.50

‘Naipes Gacelita’, half-sized edition of Spanish suited playing cards made in Mexico by Productos Gacela, 2002

Tarot & Fortune Telling

Fortune-telling cards and modern tarot packs have been conjured in a wide variety of conceptions. They involve use of imagination and intuition to assess one’s own thoughts and feelings from the view point of the symbolic images. This is liberating and creative, finding meaning and answers for oneself, rather than having blind faith in religion. Through imagination we can reach the darker regions of the psyche, face our mortality and discover the ethical principles at the heart of religion. View More →

Buena Suerte Cartomancy

Buena Suerte Cartomancy cards published by Difusora S.A., Argentina, c.1975

Grand Jeu de Mlle Le Normand

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

Fortune Telling Deck, c.1818

Fortune Telling Deck by Industrie Comptoir, Leipzig c.1818.

Etruria Minchiate, 1725

Florentine Minchiate by Pietro Alligo and originally published in Florence in 1725

Souvenir

The 19th century saw the rise of European tourism, especially in Switzerland. Souvenir playing cards depict the aesthetic, political, social, cultural and economic standpoints of the countries to which they belong and remind us of our journey. They usually feature beauty spots, local customs, gastronomy, heritage or other attractions and are closely related to shopping... View More →

Historic Boston Souvenir

Historic Boston and Vicinity

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.

Dondorf: Hauptstadte Spiel

The outlines of the figures and city views are clearly delineated with attractive ornamental details.

Orient-Express Playing Cards

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Playing Cards produced by B.P. Grimaud, Paris.

Advertising & Promotional

Usually featuring advertising messages and images promoting breweries, cigarettes, chocolate, banks, insurance, sea or air travel and other consumables, advertising playing cards are used in pubs and cafés and are a popular publicity item. Some packs are widely distributed, others are more exclusive. In some cases single cards are collected from inside the advertised product to complete a full set. View More →

Capel Vinos

Advertising playing cards for Capel Vinos S.A. (vineyards), 40 cards, manufactured by Naipes Comas.

Globalstar Satellite

Globalstar Satellite Communications playing cards, manufactured by Gráfica 2001, Buenos Aires

Air India

‘Air India’ playing cards, made in India

Watney’s Happy Families

A vintage Watney's Coombe Reid & Co Ltd promotional card game distributed by the brewery to their customers in c.1930

Ethnic

The portrayal of national or ethnic identity on playing cards reflects the different cultural backgrounds, native communities and language groups which co-exist in the world today, celebrating their accomplishments, art and histories. The indigenous capacity to assert itself with dignity in the face of modernity shines through these cards. View More →

Black & White Whisky by Nintendo

‘Black & White’ Whisky advertising playing cards manufactured by Nintendo Playing Cards Co Ltd for Dodwell & Co., 1960s

The Big Deal, Cook Islands

Patia Te Pere - The Big Deal

Pelaco Playing Cards

‘Pelaco’ playing cards with Aboriginal characters by Sands & McDougall, Australia, c.1930

Apache Playing Cards

Apache Indian Playing Cards made on rawhide, first recorded in 1875.

Reviews

Evaluation of new playing cards provides a summary and brief discussion of the artistic and technical features, as well as contact details to the seller's website. View More →

4 Elementos

“4 Elementos” playing cards designed by Marcos Neila Muro celebrating environmental sustainability and ecology, 2014

Cultúrlán Celtic myth playing cards

Playing cards designed by James Acken evoking Celtic myth in all its beauty, mystery and weirdness...

Pirate Playing Cards

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

Quantum

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

Political

Political playing cards were introduced in the 17th century providing entertainment by satirising or deriding current events and leaders. Propaganda cards, war cards and even educational cards all carry a political message... but at this critical time in history people are awakening to a need for global healing which politicians can’t always deliver. View More →

Naipes Artiguistas

Naipes Artiguistas, Entre Rios (Argentina), 1816

Political Cards

Political Playing Cards, Buenos Aires, 1890

Repoker Político

Political caricature playing cards designed by Antonio Olveira, published by the Malaga newspaper “Diario 16” on the occasion of the 1995 local elections.

Bavarian Military Cards

The bright images on these finely engraved patriotic playing cards with a military theme include plenty of uniforms.

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