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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.

Creature Comfort

Creature Comfort playing cards designed by Don Moyer, 2017.

Creature Comfort playing cards designed by Don Moyer and published by Calamityware feature intriguing monster courts with their favourite comfort foods. The numeral cards have unique pip designs for every card - no repeats. The attention to detail and great drawings are much more fun than traditional faces and are completely acceptable for all card games.

Creature Comfort playing cards designed by Don Moyer, 2017
“Creature Comfort” playing cards designed by Don Moyer, 2017 “Creature Comfort” playing cards designed by Don Moyer, 2017 Creature Comfort playing cards designed by Don Moyer, 2017

Above: “Creature Comfort” playing cards designed by Don Moyer, manufactured by the United States Playing Card Company, 2017. 52 cards + 2 whimsical jokers + 2 extra cards in sturdy tuck box. Standard poker size. The Monster Mayhem back design is available in black and red. Available here

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

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Müller: Richelieu

Müller: Richelieu

This deck is named after Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu (1585-1642), a French Roman Catholic Clergyman and statesman, Chief Adviser to King Louis XIII, noted for the authoritarian measures he employed to maintain power.

Schweizer Trachten

Schweizer Trachten

Schweizer Trachten No.174 (Costumes Suisses) by Dondorf.

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards by Sunish Chabba, 2020.

Spyscape

Spyscape

Spyscape espionage, surveillance and cryptography themed playing cards, 2018.

Vargas Girls

Vargas Girls

‘Vargas Girls’ paintings by Alberto Vargas in a deck of cards published by Creative Playing Card Co Missouri.

Alice

Alice

Alice with artwork by Jesús Blasco, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Pulp Pin-Up

Pulp Pin-Up

Classic 1940s Pulp Pin-Up covers on playing cards from China, c.2010.

Liberty

Liberty

Liberty playing cards designed by Antonella Castelli, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Baracca & Burattini

Baracca & Burattini

Baracca & Burattini puppetry deck printed by Dal Negro, 1998.

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes deck with caricatures by Jeff Decker published by Gemaco Playing Card Co. 1989

Martin Mystère

Martin Mystère

Martin Mystère based on the comic book by Alfredo Castelli. The cards were designed by Giancarlo Alessandrini.

Seefahrers II

Seefahrers II

‘Seefahrers’ maritime deck designed by Klaus Ensikat for Deutsche Seereederei Rostock, GDR.

Sanyo Ukiyo-E

Sanyo Ukiyo-E

Ukiyo-E deck by Nintendo for Sanyo Enterprise Co.

Year of the Child

Year of the Child

Year of the Child commemorative deck designed by Jhan Paulussen, 1979.

Maya Deck

Maya Deck

The Maya Deck produced by Stancraft for Hoyle, 1976.

Einhorn

Einhorn

‘Einhorn’ designed by Richard König, c.1986.

Fairy Snap

Fairy Snap

Fairy Snap by Norvic Mill, c.1920s.

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.

Bathing Beauties

Bathing Beauties

Bathing Beauties throughout the ages, published in Hungary, 1967.

Bicycle Steampunk

Bicycle Steampunk

Bicycle Steampunk playing cards with Gothic artwork by Anne Stokes, 2015.

World of Harry Potter

World of Harry Potter

World of Harry Potter playing cards produced by Winning Moves under Waddingtons Number 1 brand, 2019.

Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII is a role-playing video game.

New Figures by A. I. Charlemagne, 1862

New Figures by A. I. Charlemagne, 1862

“Renaissance” playing card designs by A I Charlemagne, 1862.

Bicycle Knights

Bicycle Knights

Bicycle Knights playing cards designed by Sam Hayles in 2018.

Friendly Felines

Friendly Felines

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

Gods of Egypt

Gods of Egypt

Gods of Egypt playing cards dedicated to the culture of Ancient Egypt.

Bicycle Cybertech

Bicycle Cybertech

Bicycle Cybertech playing cards inspired by cyberpunk genre, illustrated by Jamie Meza, 2019.

Bicycle 808 Bourbon

Bicycle 808 Bourbon

Bicycle 808 Bourbon themed deck by US Playing Card Company 2017.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland playing cards designed by Sasha Dounaevski, 2018.

Kaiserkarte

Kaiserkarte

“Kaiserkarte” first published by Schneider & Co in 1895-1897 for the Imperial Court.

Age of Dragons

Age of Dragons

Age of Dragons by Anne Stokes, 2017.

Anne Stokes Collection

Anne Stokes Collection

Anne Stokes Collection playing cards, 2010.

The Deck of Cards

The Deck of Cards

The Deck of Cards by Andrew Jones Art, 1979.

68: Playing cards in glass

68: Playing cards in glass

My wife and I have recently commissioned a unique pair of stained glass windows for our home.

Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire, 2005.

Chinese Jokers

Chinese Jokers

Chinese playing card makers have probably produced the widest variety of jokers of any single part of the world.

Ken McCarthy

Ken McCarthy

An unknown deck by Ken McCarthy, c.2018.

Les Grandes Figures de L’Histoire Bretonne

Les Grandes Figures de L’Histoire Bretonne

Les Grandes Figures de L’Histoire Bretonne

Kalevala

Kalevala

Kalevala playing cards by Sunish Chabba and Ishan Trivedi inspired by ancient Finnish mythology.