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Published March 20, 2023 Updated March 20, 2023

Unisex playing cards

Unisex playing cards produced by the Unisex Playing Card Company, Ontario, c.1982.

1982 Canada Unisex Playing Card Co. Benincasa Designs Courts Add to Collection

Produced by the Unisex Playing Card Company, Scarborough, Ontario, this pack eliminates the traditional King, Queen and Jack and replaces them with gender-neutral equivalents: a Royalty card (for the Kings), a Nobility card (for the Queens), and a Gentry card (for the Jacks). However, these court cards (and jokers) are all double-headed with one end a male figure, the other end a female figure, thereby representing both male and female simultaneously. The ace of spades, face cards and card back were designed by Benincasa Designs Inc. The pack includes 2 extra cards with a brief history of playing cards.

Unisex playing cards produced by the Unisex Playing Card Company, Scarborough, Ontario, c.1982 Unisex playing cards produced by the Unisex Playing Card Company, Scarborough, Ontario, c.1982

Above: Unisex playing cards produced by the Unisex Playing Card Company, Scarborough, Ontario, c.1982.

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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