We invite you to explore this exciting and vibrant aspect of our social history with us and see how things have changed over the years. Whatever your interest in cards, you'll find something interesting here. If you'd like to make a contribution get in touch — Simon & Adam
Playing cards arrived in Europe the late 14th century and rapidly became a part of popular culture. Antique playing cards are like a visit to the local museum and evoke images of past eras and ways of life and also demonstrate archaic technology or production methods. So what do the oldest surviving playing cards look like?
EL CONGRESO DE COLOMBIA. LEY 69 DE 1946, por la cual se elevan las tarifas de algunos impuestos indirectos y se dictan otras disposiciones.
Archaic Navarra pattern produced for the Pamplona General Hospital Monopoly by Pedro Varangot in 1786.
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There are three main NZ makers that I'm aware of: A.D. Willis, John Dickinson, and Strong & Ready.
This miniature pack is very similar to one made by C.L.Wúst in c.1890.
A collection of antique and vintage Cribbage Boards by Tony Hall
Kings Wild Tigers is Jackson Robinson’s 27th successful playing card Kickstarter campaign. A luxury collectable deck inspired by vintage matchboxes.
Limited edition luxury playing cards by Billionaire Boys Club and Theory 11.
1920s gangster-themed playing cards, "The Grand", were produced by Kevin Yu under the Riffle Shuffle Playing Card Company brand name, after raising CAD$104,453 from 884 backers on Kickstarter in 2021.
Advertising Collecting Themes
Closely following the development of visual advertising in general, such as on labels, packaging and posters, advertising playing cards are used in pubs and cafés and are a popular publicity item. Some packs are widely distributed, others are more exclusive. In some cases single cards are collected from inside the advertised product to complete a full set.
Publicity playing cards manufactured for Laboratorios Magma, S.A., Lima, Peru, c.1990.
Art & Design Collecting ThemesDesign Caricatures Abstract Cartoon Celtic Deco Jugendstil Renaissance Rococo Surrealism
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.
Card Games Collecting ThemesGames Childhood Currency Educational Happy Families Jaques Faulkner Quartet Snap Spelling
The games we play mirror the world we live in, like popular art. There was a time when friends and family played indoor games by the fireside and enjoyed countless hours of pleasure and amusement. Children don’t play card games so much because they prefer computer games, the ultimate excitement. Antique and vintage card games offer documentary evidence, as well as nostalgic memories, of the social interaction, fashions and stereotypes of bygone days and are a study in social anthropology.
French card games are mostly Jeux des Sept Familles. German games are often pleasing on the eye, and they seem to favour quartet games. USA love quartets of world worthies like authors, painters, composers. Games are not simply an escape from the real world, they are also educational and provide a place to process what it all means.
Wills’s “Happy Families” cards were issued by the Imperial Tobacco Company (of Great Britain and Ireland) Limited in around 1930.
This beautiful quartet game from Holland illustrates the strange life cycle of the peanut.
Oracle, Divination & Tarot Collecting Themes
The art of interpreting divine omens - augury or reading karma - has since ancient times been integral to political, civic and religious life.
More recently, Cartomancy and modern esoteric tarot packs have been produced in a wide variety of conceptions and involve use of imagination and intuition to assess one’s thoughts and feelings from the view point of the symbolic images and numbers. It is possible for an object to be construed as a game in one context, and as something other than a game in a different context.
Tarot, originally a 15th century card game, has evolved into a popular system of personal mysticism, self-exploration and spirituality Learn more about tarot►
Facsimile of Tarot de Marseille by Iohann Christoph Hes, Augsburg, c.1750.