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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

Tango

‘Tango’ playing cards from Argentina, c.2004.

Spanish-suited ‘Tango’ playing cards from Argentina with illustrations of dancing couples on each card, c.2004. The ace of coins shows an image of Carlos Gardel.

‘Tango’ playing cards mfrom Argentina, c.2004 ‘Tango’ playing cards mfrom Argentina, c.2004

Above: ‘Tango’ playing cards from Argentina, unknown manufacturer, c.2004. 40 cards + 2 jokers in box, low grade quality.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

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