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.

Biermans Genoese pattern

Biermans Genoese pattern for Clayson agricultural machinery, late 1960s.

Biermans Genoese pattern playing cards for Clayson agricultural machinery showing a combine harvester on the ace of spades, late 1960s. The older farming machines are now attractive to collectors of classic farm machines and some of them are museum pieces!   See the Score Card

Biermans Genoese pattern for Clayson agricultural machinery, late 1960s Biermans Genoese pattern for Clayson agricultural machinery, late 1960s

Above: Biermans Genoese pattern for Clayson agricultural machinery, late 1960s.

By User:kanahata - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7520465

Above: CLAYSON M122. Half-tracked combine harvester used in rice field in around 1968. Polder museum of Ogata-mura, Akita, Japan.

Marbi Choco Crème

Biermans Genoese pattern for Marbi Choco Crème Biermans Genoese pattern for Marbi Choco Crème

Above: similar to above, gold corners. See the Box.

Kim Cigarettes

Biermans Genoese pattern playing cards for Kim Cigarettes, with an alternative joker design. The court cards have a different colour scheme, borders and different style of index pips. See the Box

Biermans Genoese pattern for Kim Cigarettes Biermans Genoese pattern for Kim Cigarettes

Above: Biermans Genoese pattern for Kim Cigarettes.

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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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IBM Linux One

IBM Linux One

IBM Linux One playing cards, c.2018.

Lion Coffee

Lion Coffee

Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th C.

Gas Warm Homes

Gas Warm Homes

Gas Warm Homes Happy Families game published by British Gas, c.1980.

Havermout Kwartetspel

Havermout Kwartetspel

“H-O Kwartetspel” children’s card game promoting quick cooking oatmeal (instant porridge), 1930s.

Werbung die Sticht

Werbung die Sticht

“Werbung die Sticht” deck with artwork by Fritz Bünzli to promote advertising on playing cards by AG Müller 1982.

Periquito y Tontín Dominoes

Periquito y Tontín Dominoes

Periquito y Tontín Dominoes, featuring Feliz and Bonzo, 1920s.

Dundas & Wilson Deal Winners

Dundas & Wilson Deal Winners

“Deal Winners” promotional pack for Dundas & Wilson law firm.

Happy Gas Families

Happy Gas Families

Happy Gas Families published by British Gas, c.1985.

My Goodness my Guinness

My Goodness my Guinness

Gilroy Special Edition Playing Cards to commemorate the centenary of the birth of John Gilroy, 1989.

Hamm’s Beer

Hamm’s Beer

Hamm’s Beer promotion deck with bear cartoons by Frank M. Antoncich 1968.

Brazil Pictorial Aces

Brazil Pictorial Aces

Genoese pattern with Pictorial Aces for Brazil by Brepols, Turnhout, c.1920.

Nationale-Nederlanden

Nationale-Nederlanden

Nationale-Nederlanden insurance company, 1984.

Investors Overseas Services

Investors Overseas Services

Investors Overseas Services, Ltd. (IOS) by A. G. Müller (Schaffhausen), c.1969.

Gibbs Happy Families

Gibbs Happy Families

Gibbs Happy Families card game promotion, both full sized and miniature versions, c.1946.

Electric Snap

Electric Snap

Electric Snap by the South Wales Electricity Board, 1950s.

Playtex

Playtex

Playtex - le jeu de la beauté et du destin, Grimaud, 1971.

Jeu de Memoire

Jeu de Memoire

Jeu de Memoire card game promoting Véritable Chaumes cheese from the village of St Antoines in south west France.

Lever Brothers miniatures

Lever Brothers miniatures

Two miniature card games promoting Vim Scouring Powder and Sunshine Soap, 1930s.

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen - Quartett game promoting Kali brand crop fertilizer, 1938.

Cow & Gate ‘Snap’

Cow & Gate ‘Snap’

Cow & Gate ‘Snap’ featuring Cow & Gate Baby Milk Food, 1935.

Blue Brand Snap Up

Blue Brand Snap Up

Blue Brand Snap Up published by Van den Berghs probably late 1920s.

Mr Bok

Mr Bok

The Merry Game of Mr Bok and his Happy Families, promoting Bok furniture polish, 1930s.

Parkinson’s Happy Families

Parkinson’s Happy Families

Parkinson’s Happy Families published by Parkinson’s of Doncaster, confectioners established in the early nineteenth century.

Qantas

Qantas

Qantas Airways Limited is the flag carrier of Australia and is the world's third-oldest airline still in operation, having been founded in November 1920.

Capilettor

Capilettor

Capilettor cartoon playing cards published by VASS, Leinfelden, 1978.

Cefacidal

Cefacidal

“Cefacidal” / Mead Johnson medical humour advertising playing cards, c.1975.

Cigar Bands

Cigar Bands

A collection of 24 cigar bands with miniature playing cards.

Carousel Playing Cards

Carousel Playing Cards

Carousel Playing Cards commissioned by Tesco stores, 2019.

Chocolat du Planteur

Chocolat du Planteur

Chocolat du Planteur cards (reproduction) by French artist Louis Bourgeois-Borgex, c.1900.

Adverto

Adverto

Adverto card game published by Adverto Publishing Company of Stratford, London, c.1910.

Alphabetti Spaghetti

Alphabetti Spaghetti

Alphabetti Spaghetti Happy Families game for Crosse & Blackwell c.1978.

Piwiarnia Pub in Warsaw

Piwiarnia Pub in Warsaw

Advertising Deck for the Piwiarnia Pub in Warsaw.

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! promotional playing cards, 1997.

Hendrick’s Gin

Hendrick’s Gin

Nice advertising deck for Hendrick’s Gin, c.2015.

67: Adverts and related material after 1900

67: Adverts and related material after 1900

The final page of material relating to playing cards from British periodicals.

66: Adverts and related material 1862-1900

66: Adverts and related material 1862-1900

Some further material relating to cards from nineteenth and twentieth century periodicals.

Guinness Posters

Guinness Posters

Classic Guinness Posters, 1999.

Hearts of London

Hearts of London

Hearts of London for British Heart Foundation 2009.

Kinney Transparent Cards

Kinney Transparent Cards

Kinney Bros Transparent playing cards with hidden images and fortunes, c.1890.

Davenol Cough Linctus

Davenol Cough Linctus

Davenol Cough Linctus Happy Families published by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.