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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 →

Norwood #85

Reckoned by some to be the most beautiful deck ever manufactured by the United States Playing Card Co., this is certainly a rarity!

Historical playing cards, 1897

Russian “Historical” playing cards with designs by Nikolay Karazin, 1897

Dougherty's “Triplicates”

Dougherty's “Triplicate” playing cards have a specially designed Ace of Spades with a spread of cards inside the central Spade symbol demonstrating the innovation.

Bartlett Ackermann Transformation

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

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Serpentine Playing Cards

‘Serpentine’ Playing Cards published by Legends P.C.Co., 2014

Uusi Blue Blood

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

The Big Deal, Cook Islands

Patia Te Pere - The Big Deal

Ireland: Celtic Journey

Celtic Journey playing cards, where art and culture meet - designed by Carmen G. Carballeira.


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

Early Spanish/Portuguese

Early Spanish/Portuguese type playing cards

Antonio Monasta

Sicilian playing cards by Antonio Monasta, probably 17th century.

Phelippe Ayet, c.1574

Archaic, late medieval Spanish-suited playing cards printed by Phelippe Ayet, c.1574

Mechanical Instruments, c.1700

Mathematical Instruments, Tho. Tuttell, c.1700

G. Berger, Bs As

G. Berger, Buenos Aires, c.1935-50

Argentinian Manufacturers

List of Argentinian Playing Card Manufacturers

Air India

‘Air India’ playing cards, made in India

Bahía Graf

Bahía Graf, printers, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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.

Baraja 'Hoja de Afeitar'

La Baraja 'Hoja de Afeitar'

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 →

Royal Old Maid Game

This antique card game features English kings and queens from William the Conqueror to Queen Victoria, along with their spouses or consorts.

Pekka-Peli, Finland

Pekka-Peli, Finland

El Negrito Pedro

El Negrito Pedro, children’s card game, Buenos Aires, Argentina, c.1950s

Juguetes Royal

Juegos Victoria | Juguetes Royal | Card Games | Buenos Aires | Argentina

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