The playing card calls for artistic treatment and although the constrained size imposes some limitations there is an almost bewildering wealth and variety of designs in playing cards and their tuck boxes. The serious player requires design to be unobtrusive so that aesthetic considerations remain in the background. However, with modern manufacturing technology more eye-catching designs are becoming popular as gifts, collectibles and for their attractive appearance.
“26th Yankee Division Playing Cards” was designed by Alban B. Butler, Jr and printed by the Press of the Woolly Whale, New York, in 1933.
Naipes "ANGUS" designed by Gustavo A. Pueyrredón, depicting Aberdeen Angus livestock on the courts and jokers dressed as Gauchos.
Special pack for Aeronaves de Mexico S.A., designed by Ramón Valdiosera Berman, mid-1960s
Alice in Wonderland card game based on original designs by Sir John Tenniel published by Thomas De la Rue & Co. Ltd, c.1900
Artwork for The Watersprite Tarot© designed and painted by Alison McDonald.
Anna Gaber playing cards from Poland
Anonymous Dutch deck, 1940s
Apache Indian Playing Cards made on rawhide, first recorded 1875
In around 1909 he created three sets of playing cards. One set used grotesque imagery and visual puns from his caricatures and doodles, with the suit symbols integrated into the designs as hats or body parts. Another set (shown here) is more severe and geometric, with double-ended courts. His inventiveness was driven by a passion for rules, order and numbers.
Art Deco fortune telling deck published by Piatnik, 1936
Advertising pack designed by J. Passos and first printed by Cromografía Irández, Barcelona, c.1926. Re-printed in 1995
This pack was issued during wartime, in 1941, under the name “Latvian Red Cross Cards No.7”.
Playing Cards printed by Ceska Graficka Unie AS, Czechia, Prague, 1890-1925
Karl Korab was born in 1937 in Falkenstein (Lower Austria), the son of a forester. As a child he experienced the horrors of World War II, which influence his artwork today. He studied from 1957 to 1962 at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts at Sergius Pauser.
Possibly one of the most beautiful decks produced for commercial purposes, this was printed by Modiano for the Austrian Lloyd Steamship Company of Trieste in c.1895
Baraja Cuauhtémoc published by Treviño Narro, Monterrey, Mexico Original artwork by P. X. Santaella featuring Aztec and other important pre-Columbian cultures.
Baraja 'Te Amo' con dibujos de Serafín en tirada de 500 ejemplares numerados, 48 naipes. Fabricado por Naipes Comas (Barcelona) 2002.
Baraja Edad Media, fantasy Spanish-suited medieval playing cards published Mas-Reynals, Barcelona, 1993. Designed by M. Malé and illustrated by V. Maza.
“Baraja Literaria” Spanish pack with cartoons by Serafín, published by Asescoin and manufactured by Naipes Comas, 2002
‘Baraja Marinera’ designed by Francisco Javier San Juan, published by Asescoin (Madrid), 1995
Baraja Taurina was published by Enrique Guerrero, c.1950. Subsequently published as Poker Taurino by Clemente Jacques y Cia, S.A.
William H. Barribal (1873 - 1956) was a London artist who created the Waddingtons 'Barribal' playing cards series, which are avidly collected today.
Pictorial playing cards published by C. Bartlett, New York, 1833
The Basler Fasnachts deck is designed each year by a different local artist.
Bernhard Altmann is from the “The House of Cashmere” and these playing cards honour their best known commodity: the fleece of the graceful horned Cashmere goat. Hans Lang created the symbolic artwork for the deck, dedicating each suit to the group of people that had the greatest significance for Cashmere through the ages: Hearts-Indians; Diamonds-Mongolians; Spades-Persians; Clubs-Chinese.
Bjørn Wiinblad (1918-2006) was a Danish painter, designer and ceramics artist
Promotional playing cards produced for Bodegas Trapiche, designed to play Quartet games by collecting a wine bottle card with four matching glasses.
Arabic playing cards designed by Evy Maros & Mourad Boutros, c.1990
Unique pack of playing cards created for the British Museum with illustrations by Frances Button
Brussels Euro Joker Club's 10th Anniversary deck, with artwork by Yvette Cleuter, was produced in a limited, signed and numbered edition of 400 copies.
Transformation playing cards designed by Carl Johann Arnold (1829-1916), the court artist for King Friedrich Wilhem IV of Prussia
The Carnival Playing Card deck was designed by Harry D. Wallace (1892-1977) and originally published in 1925 by the Carnival Playing Card Co., New Orleans.
“Carte per Signora” patience pack was produced by Fratelli Armanino, Genova, in c.1897
“Casino” pack made by J. Müller & Cie & Cie, Schaffhouse. The pack was probably designed by Josef Maria Melchior Annen (1868-1954) who also designed several other packs for Müller & Cie.
Promotional playing cards created by A. M. Cassandre (pseudonym of Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron, 1901-1968) with abstract, almost surrealist figures and ornamentation, but clearly inspired by medieval art and rendered into an Art Deco style.
This “Jeu de Familles” from the 1960s designed by Jean Bachès promotes Chambord glassware.
King Christian IV anniversary pack, designed by Thora Fisker and printed by L. Jevison Junior, 1988
“Cine Manual” by Antonio Vercher Coll (1900-1934) and published by Reclamos Cimadevilla, Valencia, c.1927
Deluxe Limited Edition Circus Transformation Deck designed by F. Robert Schick, 1988
“Cossack” playing cards, with artwork by O. Panchenko dedicated to the revival of the traditions of the Cossacks. Printed by the Colour Printing Plant, St Petersburg, 1994
In 1804, J.C. Cotta, a publisher and bookseller in Tübingen, Germany, produced the first set of transformation cards that was published as an actual deck of playing cards.
Playing cards designed by Enzo Laurà for Credito Commerciale, 1978.
Transformation playing cards designed by the illustrator, comic artist and stage designer ‘Alfred Crowquill’ (Alfred Henry Forrester, 1804-72), printed by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.
Celtic myth playing cards inspired by the rich Celtic pantheon of mythological Gods, Goddesses, and heroes
During the 19th century growing nationalist sentiment led to a rejection of Austro-Hungarian culture in favour of that of the native Czech people. One outcome from this movement was a ‘Nationalistic’ pack of playing cards painted by Emanuel Neumann.
Danbrit playing cards by Alf Cooke, 1930s
Non-standard playing cards produced by De la Rue & Co. (London), c.1930s
Playing card designs based on motifs from early Irish manuscripts and metalwork. Created and designed by Philip Murphy and Catherine Treacy
“Baraja Histórica” (Descubridores y Colonizadores de America) manufactured by Heraclio Fournier S.A., 1952 designed by Ricardo Summers “Serny”
The design of a pack of playing cards involves a balance between utilitarian constraints and artistic possibilities.