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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, advertising, fortune telling and even to spread political messages. 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 →

Dondorf: Empire No.170

The costumes are in the style of c.1800, the days of powdered wigs are over! The four Kings carry the usual insignia and are clean shaven...

Palekh by Aleksey Orleansky

In the style of religious icon paintings, these court card figures wear costumes reminiscent of the mid-17th century.

St George Game, 1858

St George Game, 1858, depicting St George and other saints with their ladies in medieval attire engaged in battle, slaying the dragon to save souls from perdition.



Political

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

WW1 Commemorative

In 1919 Brepols commemorated the victories of World War I with two new packs featuring portraits of Allied leaders and famous battle scenes.

L. P. Holmblad c.1850

Cards from c.1850 by L. P. Holmblad showing fantasy historical Danish Kings and Queens.

Political Cards

Political Playing Cards, Buenos Aires, 1890

Jewish Card Game

Jewish Card Game, made in Argentina, c.1950

Children’s Card Games

The games we play mirror the world we live in. Produced to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers, children's games reflect the fashions, social stereotypes and politics of the time. View More →

Marché 7 Familles

“Marché 7 Familles” Happy Families card game published by France Cartes

St George Game, 1858

St George Game, 1858, depicting St George and other saints with their ladies in medieval attire engaged in battle, slaying the dragon to save souls from perdition.

Schwarzer Peter Quartett

“Schwarzer Peter Quartett” game published by VEB Altenburger Spielkartenfabrik with cartoons by Wilhelm Busch.

Brighter Families

Brighter Families for Cosmos Lamps (Metrovick), 1930

Legends Playing Cards

The Legends Playing Card Company partners with The Expert Playing Card Company to provide high quality, beautiful decks of cards.

The Fortune Teller's Deck

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

Uusi Blue Blood

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

Quantum

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

Insight Institute Tarot

'Authenticated' Tarot Cards published by the Insight Institute c.1948.

Charles Cheminade Tarot

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

Geistliche Karten, 1718

Geistliche Karten, Augsburg, 1718. Each card carries a text in Gothic typeface giving advice regarding what to do and think each day.

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.

Nutrimientos Purina

Nutrimientos Purina by Miguel Galas (Brown & Bigelow), Mexico, c.1960

Speelkaarten-Fabriek Nederland “Fortuna”

Speelkaarten-Fabriek Nederland for Royal West Indian Mail Service, 1926

Casa Escasany, 1930s

Naipes Casa Escasany ~ Novelty playing cards published by Casa Escasany, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1930s

Redheads Match Poker

Unusual and striking playing cards published sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s by the iconic Australian brand of matches, Bryant & May.

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