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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 →

Hiroshige Ukiyo-e playing cards

“Hiroshige” ukiyo-e playing cards drawn by Hiroshige Ando (1797-1858) at 53 stopoffs on the journey from Edo (Tokyo) to Kyoto.

Happy Families

Happy Families is probably one of the most popular card games ever invented, with educational benefits relating to sorting and matching of sets, as well as early literacy, etc.

Tarocco Neoclassico

'Tarocco Neoclassico Italiano', based on an original from c.1810, published in 1980 by Edizioni del Solleone.


Shapely

“Shapely” non-standard adult playing cards manufactured by Angel Playing Cards Co., Japan, 1980

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Radisson Hotels, Montevideo

Playing cards for Radisson Hotels - Casinos del Estado - Victoria Plaza, Montevideo, Uruguay, c.2009

Wills's Happy Families

Wills’s “Happy Families” cards were issued by the Imperial Tobacco Company (of Great Britain and Ireland) Limited in around 1930.

Cardiology Trials

Cardiology Trials - limited edition playing cards by Krakowskie Zaklady Wyrobów Papierowych Trefl (KZWP), 2003

Spanish Historical Characters

Spanish Historical Characters playing cards, c.1896

Uusi Blue Blood

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

PolitiCards 2012

Politicards 2012 casts this year's American politicians as characters from classic feature films.

The Big Deal, Cook Islands

Patia Te Pere - The Big Deal

The Fortune Teller's Deck

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

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 →

Dartex Card Game, 1938

Dartex, the Thrilling New Card Game of Skill, 1938

Zoo Comics

ZOO COMICS animated playing cards made by Litografía Ferri, Valencia (Spain), first published in 1968.

La Zoologie

“La Zoologie” No.335 card game by B. Dondorf, c.1910

Miniature Football player cards

Children's miniature football player cards, Montevideo, c.1928

Souvenir

A treasury of miniature art, graphic design and self-expression from different periods and locations around the world. View More →

Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands Souvenir Playing Cards

Copa de Oro 1980

Copa de Oro 1980

S.S. France Playing Cards

A special non-standard pack of playing cards was designed by M. Marie for the maiden voyage of the transatlantic liner S.S. France in 1962.

Stage Playing Cards, 1908

This beautiful deck features an oval half-tone photo of a theatre star on each card, many of them legendary names, along with their autograph beneath.

History

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

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.

I.M.F. Engraved Cards, 1617

Engraved Playing Cards, Germany, 1617, by an anonymous artist with the initials I.M.F.

Master of the Playing Cards

Animal suited playing cards engraved by the Master of the Playing Cards, Germany, c.1455-60

18th C. Workshop Inventory

Have you ever wondered what it was like inside an 18th century playing card factory?

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