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.

Virginie Houdet

Virginie Houdet “Cartes à Jouer” limited edition, 2017.

Virginie Houdet “Cartes à Jouer” limited edition, 2017

Virginie Houdet has created a delightful deck of playing cards with original designs based on the traditional canon. “Nourrie par les anciens, elle poursuit son aventure poétique dans le présent.” The logical order and symmetry of the deck has been respectfully and imaginatively reassembled with new colours and a poetic spirit. The primitive geometric designs derived from woodblocks are refreshed in an intelligent and aesthetic harmony.

Virginie Houdet’s seal

The Pip Cards

Virginie Houdet “Cartes à Jouer” limited edition, 2017

Above: every card is an original watercolor and ink drawing. The 40 pip cards are each differently coloured in a readily comprehensible format.

“Colours allow invisible emotions to express, enable things we can’t say to be seen.
‘Art does not reproduce the visible but makes it visible’ Klee said.”
- V.H.

The Court Cards

Virginie Houdet “Cartes à Jouer” limited edition, 2017

Above: the 12 double-ended court cards suggest personalities with underlying emotions and feelings, against a suit symbol in the background. As can be seen in the bottom row, the indices are bi-lingual: English at one end, French at the other end.

Decks come with 52 cards + 2 jokers + extra card in tuck box, a choice of 2 back designs, in a numbered limited edition of 250, available direct from the artist

Virginie Houdet “Cartes à Jouer” limited edition, 2017
Virginie Houdet “Cartes à Jouer” limited edition, 2017
avatar

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

View Articles

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

Recommended

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.

Alice

Alice

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

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.

Benedicte Morand-Bail

Benedicte Morand-Bail

Benedicte Morand-Bail’s striking and colourful abstract poker deck with French named courts

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.

Bicycle Steampunk

Bicycle Steampunk

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

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 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.

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.

Hearts of London

Hearts of London

Hearts of London for British Heart Foundation 2009.

1893 Worshipful Company Pack

1893 Worshipful Company Pack

Worshipful Company Pack manufactured by Chas Goodall & Son, 1893.

Roman Empire

Roman Empire

Roman Empire playing cards designed by G. Wyatt for Green Board Game Co Ltd., 2011.

Virginie Houdet

Virginie Houdet

Virginie Houdet “Cartes à Jouer” limited edition, 2017.

Bharata Playing Cards

Bharata Playing Cards

Bharata Playing Cards - Series 2, based on Indian folk art, published by Sunish Chabba, 2018.

Salon-Karte No.66

Salon-Karte No.66

Salon-Karte No.66 designed by Walter Krauss, c.1970

Leipzig Exhibition Skat, 1897

Leipzig Exhibition Skat, 1897

“Leipziger Skat-Karte” depicting scenes from the Leipzig Industry and Trade Exhibition designed by Arthur Lewin, 1897.

Neue Deutsche Spielkarte

Neue Deutsche Spielkarte

Neue Deutsche Spielkarte (Reformkarte) conceived by Dr. Timon Schroeter, 1883.

Pinocchio

Pinocchio

Pinocchio fairy tale playing cards illustrated by Iassen Ghiuselev for Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Erlenmeyer City Sights

Erlenmeyer City Sights

Erlenmeyer City Sights hand-illustrated playing cards by Stephanie Gray, 2015.