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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first became a part of popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards have been used for games, gambling, advertising, fortune telling and even to spread political messages. The most interesting aspect is the artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked. Here we have been sharing it with the world since 1996.

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 →

Hard-a-Port Tobacco

The “Hard-a-Port Cut Plug” series depicts actresses with angelic faces dressed for the pantomime or dance hall.

Bergmannskarte, c.1816

Bergmannskarte, manufactured by Industrie Comptoir, Leipzig, c.1816

Stefans Bercs, 1923

In 1923 a competition was announced for a new Latvian pack. Stefans Bercs was the winner...


Quantum playing cards designed by Catherine Geaney.

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Manufacturing Processes

Innovations in printing technologies have impacted the appearance of playing cards. View More →

Rotxotxo Workshop Inventory

Rotxotxo Workshop Inventories, Barcelona, 1660-1797

Manufacture of Cards

Article about Manufacture of Playing Cards, 1825: pasting, stencilling, polishing, cutting, etc.

Woodblock playing cards

The Woodblock and Stencil Pack of standard English playing cards by Simon Wintle

Pneumatic Playing Cards

Pneumatic Playing Cards

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.

Cartas Gitanas, c.1955

Cartas Gitanas - Argentine Fortune-telling cards, c.1955

Lenormand Deck, c.1890

Mlle Lenormand Cartomancy Deck made by Vereinigte Stralsunder Spielkartenfabriken, Stralsund, c.1890

Charles Cheminade Tarot

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

Carreras Fortune Telling Cards

Carreras Fortune Telling Cards, 1926

Austrian Lloyd Steamship Co.

Printed by Modiano for the Austrian Lloyd Steamship Company of Trieste in c.1895.

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.

Old Smuggler Whisky

Old Smuggler Whisky

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 directly reflect the popular fashions, society and politics of the time. View More →

Miniature cards

Miniature Playing Cards from around the world

Animal Grab Game, c.1900

Animal Grab card game by Thomas De La Rue & Co

Dartex Card Game, 1938

Dartex, the Thrilling New Card Game of Skill, 1938

Tower Press, 1950s

Tower Press children's card games - Nostalgia from the 1950s

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 →

Karlis Padegs

Karlis Padegs (1911-1940)

Bernhard Altmann: Cashmere

"Cashmere Playing Cards" in which the court cards are warriors, rulers and women who were particularly interested in the Cashmere trade...

Playing Cards by Alvaros

Playing Cards designed by Alvaros, Published by Eduardo Carrión, Montevideo, 2000

Austria: Karl Korab

Playing cards designed by Karl Korab and published by Edition Hilger in 1991.

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