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.

48: Ferdinand Piatnik & Sons

Ferd. Piatnik produced a very large range of cards with many different standard and non-standard patterns. This is a survey of his standard English output.

Ferdinand Piatnik & Sons of Vienna have used a number of different models for their standard English pattern cards. For a full list of my Piatnik cards, click here

The earliest I know of are based on the courts of the New York Consolidated Card Co. from c.1910.


These courts were still in use (with redrawn plates) in the 1950s in their oversize Kaffeehaus Whist packs.


Between the two world wars they also used the United States PCCo unturned courts that USPCC used in their wide Congress cards. After WWII a turned version was used and it is still in use today. The
lower pack was bought in 2014.



At the same time the De La Rue versions of Goodall courts, both wide and bridge size, were used as models. These are from the 1930s.


In 1898 the Austrian firm bought the Prague firm of Ritter & Cie, whose courts were later used by the Czech successor firm, Obchodni Tiskarny. Here are cards and the box from a late Piatnik edition of Casino 240 from c.1946.


For their large index cards from c.1960 onwards they used a turned version of Waddington’s design with faces redrawn in their own style. These are also found in some of the Playboy packs.


The design that they are most associated with appears to be related to a design used in NYCC bridge packs during the 1920s and 30s. It is not an exact copy, but has some of the idiosyncratic features of the design, such as the red queens’ hands poking out of circular openings in their clothing. In the more expensive packs they have coloured faces with a “film-star” appearance. (Not a very accurate description, but the style is modelled on the NYCC originals; see below.) There is a smaller version in slim-line packs.

The NYCC original design is below.


There are other versions of this design with somewhat more crudely drawn faces, sometimes coloured, sometimes not. The lower pack is from an early canasta set (No. 263) of c.1950: the black suit-signs are too large to fit between the heads and the frameline.

Redrawn plates: I have a pack of these with a De La Rue AS made during a printing strike in c.1968, and another with a Cambissa AS for the shipping line, Home Lines.

These courts are also to be found redrawn in a large-index, No-Revoke pack for John Newman, otherwise anonymous, 1999-2001. These may have been made by Piatnik or maybe even Richard Edward.

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By Ken Lodge

Member since May 14, 2012

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​I'm Ken Lodge and have been collecting playing cards since I was about eighteen months old (1945). I am also a trained academic, so I can observe and analyze reasonably well. I've applied these analytical techniques over a long period of time to the study of playing cards and have managed to assemble a large amount of information about them, especially those of the standard English pattern. Read more...

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58: Woolley & Co.

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48: Ferdinand Piatnik & Sons

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C.L. Wüst, 1811 - 1927

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John Sands had incorporated the earlier playing card manufacturing businesses of Hudson Industries Pty Ltd and Valentine Publishing Co.

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Goodall c.1845-60

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Goodall’s earliest cards were traditional in appearance but in around 1845 ‘modernised’ courts were designed

British Playing Cards

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36: Minor Makers of the 19th Century

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In 19th century England there were a number of makers who produced cards in relatively small quantities.

31: The Not-So-Minor Cardmakers of the 19th Century - Part 2

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This page continues the presentation of examples of the major English cardmakers of the 19th century.

29: James English

29: James English

An overview of the courts and aces of spades produced by James English.

Standard Playing Card Co.

Standard Playing Card Co.

Standard Playing Card Co. started producing playing cards in c.1890 but was in business for only about four years before United States Playing Card Company acquired it in 1894.

American Bank Note Company

American Bank Note Company

The American Bank Note Company was a long-established firm producing national currency, finely engraved stock certificates and other security printing, including postage stamps. They also entered the playing card market c.1908-1914.

J.L. & J. Turnbull

J.L. & J. Turnbull

An ‘Old Frizzle’ Ace of Spades was assigned to them in 1833. In 1853 James L. & J. Turnbull were listed as ‘Makers of Playing Cards, Pasteboard, Paper Glossers and Pressers and Drawing Board Makers.

Russell Playing Card Co.

Russell Playing Card Co.

Willis W. Russell started a modest playing card business in Milltown, a small town in northern New Jersey, in 1905.

Thomas Wheeler

Thomas Wheeler

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Ormond Printing Co. Ltd

Ormond Printing Co. Ltd

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5: De La Rue

5: De La Rue

In December 1831 Thomas de la Rue was granted his patent for printing playing cards by letterpress.

Irish Playing Card Mfg Co

Irish Playing Card Mfg Co

Irish Playing Card Manufacturing Company.

Igor Domicelj, Buenos Aires, c.1945-55

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G. Berger, Buenos Aires, c.1935-50

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Van Genechten

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A. Van Genechten ran a flourishing business, supplying various kinds of cards both inside the country and abroad including England, Spain, France, Denmark, South-East Asia, China and Japan.

Cappellano S.A. c.1920-c.1985

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Brown & Bigelow

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Brown & Bigelow of St Paul, Minnesota, was a leading producer of playing cards in the U.S. from the late 1920s - 1980s.

Thai Playing Cards Manufacturing Factory

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SOIMCA

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Dieudonné & Cie Aluette

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Aluette playing cards manufactured by Dieudonné & Cie, Angers (France), early 20th century.

Glanz

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Non-Standard playing cards manufactured by Joseph Glanz, Vienna, Austria, 1862.

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Western PCC

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Mesmaekers & Moentack, c.1860

Mesmaekers & Moentack, c.1860

The Mesmaekers firm had been established in Turnhout in 1859 by the partnership of Gustaaf Mesmaekers and Louis-François Moentack.

Brotherton, 1789-1840

Brotherton, 1789-1840

Brotherton is recorded as operating at 13 Little Britain (London) from 1789-1840. In 1851 his factory was burnt down.