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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.

Pirate Playing Cards

A recurring motif is the symbolism of life and death, playfully rendered in these marvellous cards, including plenty of sabres and skeletons!

Designed and created by Vitaly Fishilevich, Israel, 2011

The idea for these playing cards came from Vitaly’s childhood love of pirate stories and hidden treasures. When he was young he imagined the cards that the pirates themselves used to play with while drinking rum at sea. This is the theme which Vitaly has developed into this custom deck of playing cards. A recurring motif is the symbolism of life and death, playfully rendered in these marvellous cards, including plenty of sabres and skeletons! The artwork is in black and white so that the deck can be used as a tattoo sampler. The images are very fashionable in the context of being flash designs; the style is like that found in Calavera art (sugar skulls) and contains references to Voodoo and Spanish conquistadors amongst others. The box has been imaginatively decorated with skulls, bones, ships and a treasure map on the back. Decks can be purchased direct from Vitaly’s website: www.kipodtattoo.com

Pirate Playing Cards: concept and design by Vitaly Fishilevich, 2011 Pirate Playing Cards: concept and design by Vitaly Fishilevich, 2011

Above: 'Pirate Playing Cards': 52 cards + 2 Jokers in pirate-themed box, manufactured in Israel, concept and design by Vitaly Fishilevich.

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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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