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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 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: Baronesse

Baronesse, Whist No.160. All the court figures wear white powdered wigs and velvet clothing...

Kimberley 1892

David Kimberley & Sons, first edition, 1892

New Era No.46

The recently incorporated United States Playing Card Company began creating exciting new brands in order to celebrate their new beginning.


Bartlett Ackermann Transformation

Pictorial playing cards published by C. Bartlett, New York, 1833

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History

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

Master of the Banderoles

Playing Cards by the Master of the Banderoles, one of the earliest professional printmakers, c.1470

Silver Cards from Peru

Playing cards engraved in silver from Peru, 1745

Mamluk Cards

Nã'ib, the game of lieutenants... these cards are amongst the earliest Arabic playing cards extant, from a XV or early XVI century Mamluk pack.

Tarocchi di Mantegna

The so-called Tarocchi di Mantegna is a set of 50 copper-engraved images (c.1465) which were probably a social pastime or instructional series.

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 →

Black Peter, Latvia c.1940

Black Peter, Riga, Latvia, c.1940

The New Game of Animals

A Victorian card game containing imaginatively designed letters which spell the name of an animal. The design for each letter makes it fairly obvious to which animal it belongs.

Das Lustige Familien Quartett

“Das Lustige Familien Quartett” published by Eugen Schmidt K.G., Dresden, c.1930s

Noddy Happy Families, 1955

Enid Blyton's Noddy Happy Families

Goodall Spanish pack, c.1948

Goodall's Spanish suited pack, c.1948

Cigarette Cards & Ephemera

Cigarette Cards, Trade Cards and Miniature Playing Cards and other ephemera.

Coca~Cola advertising, Peru

Coca~Cola advertising playing cards printed for Ripley department store, Peru

Credito Commerciale

Playing cards designed by Enzo Laurà for Credito Commerciale, 1978.

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 →

Hurry-Up Misfitz

Faulkner's “Hurry-Up Misfitz”, with some of the finest card illustrations depicting vintage methods of transportation, was designed by George Lambert, c.1907

Basler Fasnachts-Karten

The Basler Fasnachts deck is designed each year by a different local artist.

Brussels Euro Joker Club '98

Brussels Euro Joker Club's 10th Anniversary deck with artwork by Yvette Cleuter.

Carte per Signora

“Carte per Signora” patience sized pack was produced by Fratelli Armanino, Genova, in c.1897

Political

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

Political Cards

Political Playing Cards, Buenos Aires, 1890

Historic U.S. Playing Cards

Historic Playing Cards commemorating early U.S. events and heroes

Anti-Napoleon deck, c.1815.

Deck from the liberation war against Napoleon, unknown maker, c.1815.

Deakin's 1st edition

Deakin's Political Playing Cards, 1st edition, 1886.

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