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.

AO MATU Playing Cards by Nastya KFKS

A custom deck with magnificent characters, illustrations and tropical design. Inspired by the nature of the Polynesian islands. Wild and truly unique.

Nastya KFKS a graphic designer from Brooklyn, New York has created a pack based around the theme of islands, nature and Polynesian culture.

The core concept is based around the idea to create a fantasy island with is own characters and animals somewhere deep in the Polynesian triangle area.

The name of cards - AO MATU, it goes from Tongan language, one of the multiple languages in the Polynesia. AO mean world, MATU is island.

There are four tribes of warriors, represented by each suit. Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces and Jokers – characters. Number cards – relief of the island. Back – vegetation, jungles of AO MATU, world where your warriors hide from the opponent.

You can find more details and images on the pack's Kickstarter campaign page, and also more of Nastya's work on her personal portfolio site.

avatar

By Adam Wintle

Member since March 15, 1997

View Articles

Adam has been involved in developing the site.

Recommended

Black Peter

Black Peter

Two Black Peter games by Willy Mayrl published by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne, 1950s.

Zoo-Boots

Zoo-Boots

Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

So Fängt Es An

So Fängt Es An

“So Fängt Es An” beautifully illustrated by M. Neugebauer, published by Helingsche Verlagsanstalt, c.1950.

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Toys Animal Families, c.1970.

Corrida de Toros

Corrida de Toros

Bull fighting card game publshed by Naipes Comas, 1969.

Zooloo Misfitz

Zooloo Misfitz

Zooloo Misfitz card game designed by George Lambert for C.W. Faulkner & Co, c.1907.

Sapra Studio Original

Sapra Studio Original

Sapra Studio Original playing cards featuring wild animals of S Africa, 1999.

Natuurkwartet

Natuurkwartet

Nature Quartet game published by Staatsbosbeheer, printed by Roem Speelkaarten, Kampen.

Botany Quartetts

Botany Quartetts

Botany card game published by Houlston and Wright & Henry Greenwood, c.1860.

Snap

Snap

Snap card game illustrated with animals, by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen

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

Schwarzer Peter Der Wald und seine Leute

Schwarzer Peter Der Wald und seine Leute

Schwarzer Peter the Forest and its People, illustrated by Liesel Lauterborn, 1955.

Avilude or Game of Birds

Avilude or Game of Birds

Avilude or Game of Birds published by West & Lee, Worcester, Mass, c.1880.

Mr Bok

Mr Bok

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

Greenpeace

Greenpeace

Campaign deck for Greenpeace with drawings of penguins, seals, whales and dolphins.

Flora

Flora

‘Flora’ card game published by C.W. Faulkner, printed by Dondorf, 1903.

Animal Misfitz

Animal Misfitz

Animal Misfitz designed by George Lambert for Faulkner Games, c.1900.

Carousel Playing Cards

Carousel Playing Cards

Carousel Playing Cards commissioned by Tesco stores, 2019.

Friendly Felines

Friendly Felines

‘Friendly Felines’ playing cards designed by Azured Ox, 2017.

National Geographic Nature

National Geographic Nature

National Geographic Nature playing cards, 2006.

Fungi Mycological Playing Cards

Fungi Mycological Playing Cards

Mystic Mushrooms Playing Cards, 2018.

Gerrymanders

Gerrymanders

Gerrymanders by Globe Series of Games, c.1900.

Freddy the Fox

Freddy the Fox

Freddy the Fox card game published by Valentine & Sons, Ltd, c.1910.

Zoological Misfitz

Zoological Misfitz

Zoological Misfitz card game published by C.W. Faulkner.

Zoo Fun

Zoo Fun

Zoo Fun card game no.445 by Warren Paper Products, c.1960s.

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy by Warren Paper Products, c.1960s.

National Geographic: Weird But True

National Geographic: Weird But True

National Geographic: “Weird But True” kids fun fact playing cards, 2014.

Red Sea

Red Sea

Red Sea fish identification cards published in several languages by Horus of Egypt, 2005.

Little Grey Rabbit

Little Grey Rabbit

Little Grey Rabbit illustrated by Margaret Tempest, 1954.

Beatrix Potter’s Rummy

Beatrix Potter’s Rummy

Beatrix Potter’s Rummy published by Gibsons Games, c.1985.

Kleine Tierwelt

Kleine Tierwelt

“Kleine Tierwelt” wildlife quartet game designed by Heinz Osthoff, published by Bielefelder Spielkarten GmbH, 1963.

Schwarzer Peter

Schwarzer Peter

Schwarzer Peter animal pairs card game produced in Germany, c.1920s.

XVII Century Engraved Animal Cards

XVII Century Engraved Animal Cards

French suited German engraved cards c1610 to 1650,

Rat-a-Tat Cat

Rat-a-Tat Cat

Rat-a-Tat Cat illustrated by Roni Shepherd, published by Gamewright Inc, Boston, 1997.

Waves From Around the World

Waves From Around the World

Waves From Around the World playing cards with photography by Aaron Chang.

Scouting

Scouting

Scouting, a card game about boy scouts, appeared in 1955.

Forrest Cards, c.1750s

Forrest Cards, c.1750s

Hand-coloured Forrest Cards produced for “Young Gentlemen & Ladys who are Lovers of Ingenuity”, c.1750s.

Maldives Scenery

Maldives Scenery

Maldives Scenery By Bamboo Souvenirs.

Farmyard Cries

Farmyard Cries

Farmyard Cries card game, designed by Racey Helps and published by Pepys Games, 1952.