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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 cosmos. 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 imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” aspect of how things have changed.

From the Blog

Our blog on playing cards, current Kickstarter campaigns and projects from around the web View More →

Card Games

The games we play mirror the world we live in. Children don’t play card games any more because they prefer computer games, which are the ultimate excitement. Antique and vintage card games offer nostalgic memories of the social interaction, fashions and stereotypes of past eras and are a study in social anthropology. View More →


When movies, radio and television first appeared playing card manufacturers were worried. But people still had plenty of leisure time and card playing continued to increase. Today’s electronic devices, computers, the Internet and online gaming have changed everything and many former playing card manufacturers have closed down or been taken over by larger corporations. The older manufacturers are now a reminder of bygone days. View More →

Tarot & Fortune Telling

Fortune-telling cards and modern tarot packs have been conjured in a wide variety of conceptions. They involve use of imagination and intuition to assess one’s own thoughts and feelings from the view point of the symbolic images. This is finding meaning and answers for oneself, rather than having blind faith in authority such as in religion. Through imagination we can reach the darker regions of the psyche, face our mortality and discover the ethical principles at the heart of religion. View More →


The best-known fantasies with playing cards are the ‘Transformation’ cards. Hand-drawing ‘transformations’ onto a pack of ordinary playing cards, with the suit symbols forming part of the overall composition, was a popular pastime 150 years ago and a test of skill in drawing. A great deal of ingenuity is required in their design. The earliest printed sets were published at the start of the 19th century, sometimes known as ‘metastasis’, and these became a fashionable and entertaining novelty. View More →


The portrayal of national or ethnic identity on playing cards reflects the different cultural backgrounds, native communities and language groups which co-exist in the world today, celebrating their accomplishments, art and histories. The indigenous capacity to assert itself with dignity in the face of modernity shines through these cards. Sometimes their costumes are better than the fashion industry. View More →

Art & Design

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. View More →

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