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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.

Tyrolean Playing Cards

Facsimile of patriotic 1878 Tyrolean playing cards published by Piatnik in 1992.

Facsimile of 1878 Tyrolean playing cards published by Piatnik

Tiroler Spielkarten

This commemorative facsimile edition of an historical, or patriotic, German-suited Tyrolean deck produced in 1878 contains interesting scenes in vignettes on the pip cards plus court card characters relating to Tyrolean history. For example, the hearts suit depicts the 1809 struggles for freedom whilst the acorns suit depicts art, science and industry. See the box

Facsimile of 1878 Tyrolean playing cards published by Piatnik Facsimile of 1878 Tyrolean playing cards published by Piatnik Facsimile of 1878 Tyrolean playing cards published by Piatnik Facsimile of 1878 Tyrolean playing cards published by Piatnik Facsimile of 1878 Tyrolean playing cards published by Piatnik

Above: reproduction of an 1878 deck from the Tyrolean State Museum designed by the patriotic artist Edmund von Wörndle (1827-1906) and published as facsimile by Piatnik (No.2892) for Haymon-Verlag in 1984, 1992. 36 cards + information booklet in German.

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By Matt Probert

Member since March 02, 2012

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I have adored playing cards since before I was seven years old, and was brought up on packs of Waddington's No 1. As a child I was fascinated by the pictures of the court cards.

Over the next fifty years I was seduced by the artwork in Piatnik's packs and became a collector of playing cards.

Seeking more information about various unidentified packs I discovered the World of Playing Cards website and became an enthusiastic contributor researching and documenting different packs of cards.

I describe my self as a playing card archaeologist, using detective work to identify and date obscure packs of cards discovered in old houses, flea markets and car boot sales.

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