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.

Bongoût

One of the outstanding and most popular packs made by the Turnhout cardmakers was the Bongoût type. Special scenic Aces could be added to packs according to the client’s preferences.

The Bongoût brand from Belgium

One of the outstanding and most popular packs made by the Turnhout cardmakers, the Bongoût pattern is another descendant of the Paris pattern which emerged in the 19th century. The refinement of the design includes decorated corners to the court cards and figures of different colours on each half of the card. With an eye to the export trade, special scenic Aces could be added to packs according to the client’s preferences. Usually these seem to have been Brazilian but some packs were made for Portugal or Italy.

Bongoût pattern playing cards with special scenic Aces for Brazil manufactured by A. Van Genechten, 1870

Above: Bongoût pattern playing cards with special scenic Aces for Brazil manufactured by A. Van Genechten, 1870. Stencil-coloured lithography, 32 cards. Image courtesy Barney Townshend. See another example

Bongoût pattern playing cards with special scenic Aces for Brazil

Above: later example of Bongoût pattern playing cards with special scenic Aces for Brazil, rounded corners. Image courtesy Barney Townshend.

All the major Turnhout makers produced a version of the Bongoût pattern, though it is not known who issued the design first. The designs are permutations from earlier patterns but with the suits swapped around.

Bongoût pattern playing cards with special scenic Aces for Brazil manufactured by A. Van Genechten, 1870

Above: Bongoût pattern playing cards with scenic Aces manufactured by A. Van Genechten, 1877.

avatar

By Barney Townshend

Member since October 06, 2015

View Articles

Retired Airline Pilot, interested in: Transformation Playing Cards, Karl Gerich and Elaine Lewis. Secretary of the EPCS. Treasurer of the IPCS.

Recommended