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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.

Paramount Film Stars

Promotional playing cards for the Paramount film company with film stars on the court cards.

Film Stars II Playing Cards for Paramount, 1933

Published by De la Rue & Co., London, 1933.

These promotional playing cards for the Paramount film company with immortal film stars of the time on the court cards were produced in the 1930s by De la Rue & Co., London. The designs are playfully laid back, with photograph heads on top of cartoon bodies. A similar pack was also produced for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Film company around the same time. Bimbo, on the Joker, is a cartoon Border Collie dog character created by Fleischer Studios in c.1930.

'Film Star Playing Cards' for Paramount manufactured by De la Rue & Co., London, 1933

Above: 'Film Star Playing Cards II' for Paramount manufactured by De la Rue & Co., London, 1933. All the court cards and Joker are printed in red, yellow, green, black and white. The Kings and Queens are crowned. The Jacks all have some sort of a hat, either as part of the photo or drawn. The court cards in this set are the same at each end. Printed by offset-litho. Double pack 2 x (52 cards + Joker + contract scoring card). Images courtesy Barney Townshend.

A similar pack was also produced for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer →

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By Barney Townshend

Member since October 06, 2015

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Retired Airline Pilot, interested in: Transformation Playing Cards, Karl Gerich and Elaine Lewis. Secretary of the EPCS. Treasurer of the IPCS.

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