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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 cosmos. 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 →

New Style ‘Literature & Theatre’

Playing cards showing the influence of ‘Jugendstil’ manufactured by the Soviet Playing Card Monopoly (U.S.S.R.) 1930.

Nederlandsche Oliefabriek quartet game

The Nederlandsche Oliefabriek Calvé of Delft was formed when Nederlandsche Oliefabriek and the French company Calvé merged in 1897.

Kenya Tribes Playing Cards

“Kenya Tribus” playing cards published by Sapra, Mount Kenya Sundries Ltd, Nairobi, 1991

Latest Articles

Miniature Disney pack

Mickey Mouse card game is part of a promotion for Rübezahl Schokoladen GmbH (Germany)

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In der Fuehrer’s Face

“In der Fuehrer’s Face” playing cards designed in 1945 by Antonio Arias Bernal and published in 2002 by Bill Schroeder & M.R. Steele

DC Comics Originals

‘DC Comics Originals’ deck from 2014

Monty Python

Monty Python playing cards marketed by ‘re:creation’ and made in China

Eldar by Memco

‘Eldar’ advertising deck by Middle East Manufacturing Co of Beirut, Lebanon, c.1960

Trans-Siberian Express

‘Trans-Siberian Express’ playing cards designed by Veronika Nicolaeva, Az-Art Publishing House, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2015

Quickbrew Teddy Bear playing cards

Teddy Bear playing cards designed by Peter Wood for Lyons Quickbrew Tea

Online Shop

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

T-Ara playing cards from South Korea

£ 9.99

T-Ara playing cards from South Korea

Waddingtons c.1924

£ 20.00

Waddington's first ace of spades and early court designs, c.1924

​Florentine/Tuscan pattern complete uncut sheet

£ 30.00

​Florentine/Tuscan pattern complete uncut sheet of playing cards

Andersons ‘Scotch Terrier’ pack

£ 25.00

Standard pack manufactured by Andersons of Edinburgh, c.1925

Naipes "Azahar" for Nedisa, 1997

£ 8.99

Naipes "Azahar" for Nedisa/Cavas Murviedro, Valencia, 1997

Kingdoms of Europe, c.1895

£ 30.00

Kingdoms of Europe card game published by Jaques, c.1895

From the Blog

Our blog on playing cards, current Kickstarter campaigns and projects from around the web View More →

Card Crawl, a mobile dungeon crawl card game

Card Crawl is a solitaire style Dungeon Crawler played with a modified deck of standard cards

Cats and Dogs Royale Playing Cards

Two collectable sets of cards featuring Cats and Dogs as Royalty through the ages.

Revelation playing cards

“Revelation” playing cards illustrated by Michael Messer

40 Years of Fear Jaws Playing Cards

This special pack celebrates the 40th anniversary of the film Jaws.

Viridian Playing Cards by Kardify

Viridian playing cards are a modern twist inspired by the classics. Influenced by vintage design and refined by modern aesthetics.

Celtic Myth Playing Cards by Cultúrlán Enterprises

Celtic Myth playing cards are the third and final set of cards in a series based around the themes of Celtic mythology and society.

Omnia Playing Cards

Inspired by ancient symbology and traditional playing cards, Omnia is the third pack designed by Giovanni Meroni.

Cultura Playing Card Deck by Mankin Chan

A full custom deck of playing cards, inspired by the different cultures of the world; including China, Italy, USA and the Netherlands.

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. Sometimes their costumes are better than the fashion industry. View More →

Indian Ganjifa

‘Ganjifa’ playing cards made in Sheopor in the North of Madhya Pradesh province in Central India

Maori

Maori themed playing cards from New Zealand depicting Maori Kings, Queens and Chiefs.

Baraja Aparcero

Baraja Aparcero

Kenya Tribes Playing Cards

“Kenya Tribus” playing cards published by Sapra, Mount Kenya Sundries Ltd, Nairobi, 1991

Children’s Card Games

The games we play mirror the world we live in. Children don’t play card games any more because they prefer computer games, which are the ultimate excitement. Antique and vintage children’s card games offer nostalgic memories of the fashions and social stereotypes of past eras and are a study in social anthropology. View More →

Sporting Snap c.1895

Chad Valley ‘Sporting Snap’ card game designed by Max Pollock c.1895

Fleet Street

“Fleet Street” card game published by Chad Valley Games, c.1923

Quits

Jaques' Quits card game, c.1880-85, with portraits of monarchs inside suit symbols in red, blue and yellow, designed to assist in the education of school children in British history.

Wilhelm Busch (1832-1908)

Wilhelm Busch was a German caricaturist and humourist who lived from 1832-1908. There are many card games made in Germany using his characters.

Art & Design

The playing card calls for artistic treatment and although the constrained size imposes some limitations there is an almost bewildering wealth and variety of designs in playing cards and their tuck boxes. The serious player requires design to be unobtrusive so that aesthetic considerations remain in the background. However, with modern manufacturing technology more eye-catching designs are becoming popular as gifts, collectibles and for their attractive appearance. View More →

Gertrude Kümpel, 1989

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

Humanist Bridge, Müller & Cie

Humanist pack designed by Melchior Annen (1868-1954) and made by J. Müller & Cie (Schaffhouse).

Alison McDonald

Artwork for The Watersprite Tarot© designed and painted by Alison McDonald.

Farmyard Snap

“Farmyard Snap” designed by A. E. Kennedy and published by C. W. Faulkner & Co., c.1930.

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 →

Panama Souvenir

Several editions of Panama Souvenir Playing Cards were issued by the USPCC between 1908 - 1926.

Vistas de Lima, c.1910

Peru Souvenir Playing Cards

Prague 1908 Jubilee

This special pack of playing cards, published in 1908, was available at the Jubilee Exhibition held in Prague.

Costa del Sol playing cards

Málaga Costa del Sol souvenir playing cards published by Otermin Ediciones

Pop Culture

Popular culture, cinema, tv and global brands today are a product of the economically more developed countries and arise from a combination of advances in industrial technology and increased leisure time. It aims to be sold to large numbers of people as a commodity. Certain currents of pop culture may originate from or diverge into a subculture. View More →

Fable III

“Fable III” playing cards created by Lionhead Studios depicting characters in the role-playing video game published by Microsoft Game Studios in 2010.

Disney Collectible Cards

Disney Collectible Cards

Mr. Men™

Mr. Men™ & Little Miss™ playing cards by Roger Hargreaves

Axe Deodorant, Argentina

Axe Deodorant Playing Cards by Zecat, Argentina

Reviews

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

Maxpedition Hard-Use

Maxpedition all-weather tactical playing cards, 2012

Trans-Siberian Express

‘Trans-Siberian Express’ playing cards designed by Veronika Nicolaeva, Az-Art Publishing House, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2015

Quantum

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

Uusi Blue Blood

Uusi Blue Blood designer playing cards by Peter Dunham and Linnea Gits, 2012

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