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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.

Sport No.31

Van Genechten first registered an Ace of Spades for English playing cards in 1885 followed by the ‘Sailor’ Joker.

Etablissement Antoine van Genechten S.A.

Van Genechten first registered an Ace of Spades for English playing cards in 1885 followed by several brand names, and also the ‘Sailor’ Joker, as shown here in a pack of “Sport No.31” playing cards published in around 1910. The box has artwork derived from the Ace and also ‘Regd Trade Mark’. Apart from playing cards, Van Genechten was at this time producing coloured paper, cardboard and pasteboard, as well as manufacturing and printing (letterpress, lithography and offset) all manner of packaging materials.

'Sport No.31' playing cards manufactured by A. van Genechten, Turnhout, Belgium, 
c.1910

Above: 'Sport No.31' playing cards manufactured by A. van Genechten, Turnhout, Belgium, c.1910. The Ace of Spades was a registered trade mark since February 1885, and this was followed in 1888 by the Sailor Joker designed by Houssiaux of Brussels. The court cards appear to be inspired by the designs of De la Rue. Images courtesy Rod Starling.


wrapper from 'Sport No.31' playing cards manufactured by A. van Genechten

Above: wrapper from 'Sport No.31' playing cards manufactured by A. van Genechten, c.1910.


REFERENCES

Autenboer, Dr Eugeen van: The Turnhout Playing Card Industry 1826-1976, Aurelia Books, Brussels 1976

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By Rod Starling

Member since January 09, 2013

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Rod Starling is one of the founding members of the 52 Plus Joker card collectors club. He has written many articles for the club's quarterly newsletter, Clear the Decks. His collection still encompasses both foreign and American decks. Rod has also authored a book titled The Art and Pleasures of Playing Cards.

Also by Rod Starling

Download as Adobe PDF files:

"Playing Card Art Collectors Extraordinaire"

"Some Facts About Facsimiles"

"Something New and Topical"

"Tales From the Stage"

"Shuffling Along With History"

"Steamboat Cards and the Mississippi Mystique"

"Piatnik: High Quality & Longevity"

"Three Rare Playing Card Back Designs"

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