The World of Playing Cards Logo The World of Playing Cards Logo

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.

Rococo Playing Cards

Piatnik’s Rococo style playing cards issued as “Rococo Patience”, “Luxus-Patience”, “Empire Patience”, “White Horse Patience”, “Patience-Whist No.140”, “Mini Patience” and “Lady Patience”

Rococo period style is one of the most popular with playing card designers and manufacturers over the years, with lavish embroidered costumes and white, powdered wigs and tricorne hats. These particular designs have been published by Piatnik with decorative aces in several formats since around 1914, including “Rococo Patience”, “Luxus-Patience”, “Empire Patience”, “White Horse Patience” then as “Patience-Whist No.140”, “Mini Patience” and “Lady Patience”.

Piatnik’s Lady slim sized playing cards with attractive historical court designs, 1950s Piatnik’s Lady slim sized playing cards with attractive historical court designs, 1950s

Above: Piatnik’s "Lady" slim sized playing cards with attractive historical courts imported into UK by Benno Products, 1950s. 52 cards + 2 jokers in box.

“White Horse Patience No.2018”

The cards were also repackaged as: “White Horse Patience No.2018” during the late 1970s.

Piatnik’s “White Horse patience no.2018”, 1978 Piatnik’s “White Horse patience no.2018”, 1978

Above: Piatnik's "White Horse Patience" No 2018 using the same face designs but with different style of indices and Lipizzaner horses on the reverse. Each deck has 52 cards + 3 jokers + extra card. Unusually, the date code is printed on the ace of diamonds rather than the ace of hearts. Images courtesy Matt Probert.

“Empire Patience”

Piatnik’s patience sized playing cards, 1970s

Above: Piatnik’s patience sized playing cards, 1970s. 2 x [52 cards + 3 jokers] in box. The box doesn't give any brand name, just "Piatnik Wien" but is was imported by a Belgian stationer called Baeyens, Galerie 48, Antwerp whose sticker is inside the lid. Courtesy Lotte Wintle and Francis Bevers.