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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.

SNP Ausprint Jokers

A series of SNP Ausprint jokers with the various wording and name changes

SNP Ausprint Jokers

A series of SNP Ausprint jokers with the various wording and name changes underneath. Some have holes, they are casino decks. The “Name, Address & Phone” version came from an Ansett deck (collapsed in 2001) presumably to allow travelling businessmen to ‘network’.

a series of SNP Ausprint jokers with the various wording and name changes

Above: a series of SNP Ausprint jokers with the various wording and name changes. Images courtesy John Daniels.

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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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Pack of 52 hand-drawn Jokers.

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Malaysia Airlines

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Malaysian-made deck of cards produced for Malaysian Airline Systems (MAS).

West Flanders Souvenir

West Flanders Souvenir

West Flanders Souvenir pack manufactured in Belgium by Mesmaekers, c.1950.

De la Rue’s 125th anniversary

De la Rue’s 125th anniversary

In around 1955 De la Rue introduced a new coloured joker and a series of aces of spades with a silhouette of Thomas de La Rue which coincided with their 125th anniversary

Sands & McDougall Aces & Jokers

Sands & McDougall Aces & Jokers

Sands & McDougall produced many beautiful Spade Aces and Jokers.

Ausgold by SNP

Ausgold by SNP

“Ausgold” by SNP Ausprint Pty Ltd

SNP Ausprint Jokers

SNP Ausprint Jokers

A series of SNP Ausprint jokers with the various wording and name changes

Jest Jokers

Jest Jokers

Peter Wood’s “Jest Jokers” comprising 54 different Joker designs made into a full pack of cards.

The Joker Card

The Joker Card

The 'Joker' is believed to have been invented by American Euchre players who, when modifying the rules sometime during the 1860s, decided that an extra trump card was required.