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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.

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Germany

238 Articles

Card-playing rapidly became popular in medieval Bavaria and German printers were quick to supply the goods.

German playing cards

Card-playing rapidly became popular in medieval Bavaria and German printers were quick to supply the goods.

German playing cards

Salon-Karte No.66

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

Salon-Karte No.66

Olympia Sport Quartett

Olympia Sport Quartett designed by Siegfried Riediger, 1953.

Olympia Sport Quartett

Leipzig Exhibition Skat, 1897

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

Leipzig Exhibition Skat, 1897

Musikalisches Kartenspiel

Facsimile of Dondorf’s “Musikalisches Kartenspiel” (c.1862) published by Lo Scarabeo, 2004

Musikalisches Kartenspiel

Schwarzer Peter

Schwarzer Peter No.831 by F.X. Schmid, c.1960s.

Schwarzer Peter

Intecta Interior Design

Intecta playing cards designed by Paul Reissmüller, 1982.

Intecta Interior Design

Hannelore Heise: “Essay” & “Gracia”

Two charming designs by Hannelore Heise from Germany.

Hannelore Heise: “Essay” & “Gracia”

Berliner Originale

“Berliner Originale” designed by Manfred Bofinger, 1986.

Berliner Originale

DSA Textil Berlin

Special deck for Erste Deutsche Sack-Centrale / DSA Textil Berlin manufactured by VEB Altenburger Spielkartenfabrik, c.1970.

DSA Textil Berlin

Kleine Tierwelt

“Kleine Tierwelt” wildlife quartet game designed by Heinz Osthoff, published by Bielefelder Spielkarten GmbH, 1963.

Kleine Tierwelt

Schwarzer Peter

Schwarzer Peter animal pairs card game produced in Germany, c.1920s.

Schwarzer Peter

Wüst Lenormand deck, c.1860

Wüst Lenormand deck, c.1860

Wüst Lenormand deck, c.1860

Art Nouveau

Elegant gold-printed playing cards in Jugendstil style designed by Otto Benz for Renault, 1987

Art Nouveau

Mordillo Skat

Mordillo Skat designed by Guillermo Mordillo, c.1979

Mordillo Skat

Karoo

“Karoo”, later reissued as “Triplem”, by Oppenheimer und Sulzbacher, c.1900.

Karoo

Oppenheimer und Sulzbacher

Card games produced in Germany by Oppenheimer und Sulzbacher.

Oppenheimer und Sulzbacher

August der Starke

‘August der Starke und seine Zeit’ designed by Günter Schmitz, 1985.

August der Starke

Hansa-Karte

Bechstein design reprinted by Vereinigte Stralsunder Spielkartenfabriken AG former Schneider & Co., c1925.

Hansa-Karte

Porträt

“Porträt” designed by Walter Krauss, 1968

Porträt

Löwen Entertainment

Skat deck for Löwen Entertainment, producers of electronic gaming machines, 1986

Löwen Entertainment

Die Kutschfahrt zur Teufelsburg

“Die Kutschfahrt zur Teufelsburg” or “Coach Ride to Devil’s Castle” by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach, published by Adlung-Spiele in 2006.

Die Kutschfahrt zur Teufelsburg

Fussball Quartett

Fussball Quartett by Bielefelder Spielkarten GmbH, c.1958.

Fussball Quartett

Antike Götter

“Antike Götter” - facsimile of antique playing cards originally manufactured by C. A. Müller, Berlin, 1830.

Antike Götter

Altenburger Bauerntrachten

“Altenburger Bauerntrachten” commemorating 150 years of playing cards from Altenburg, designed by Andreas Wachter, 1982.

Altenburger Bauerntrachten

Schwäbisch Hall

Schwäbisch Hall building society publicity deck designed by Alex Kardas, c.1975.

Schwäbisch Hall

Deutsche Reichsbahn

Deutsche Reichsbahn (German Railways) deck designed by Peter Becker, 1989

Deutsche Reichsbahn

Geprüfte Sicherheit

Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Accident Research, 1978

Geprüfte Sicherheit

Volleyball European Championship ’83

Volleyball European Championship Rummy, 1983, designed by Klaus Hennig.

Volleyball European Championship ’83

Micky Mau~Mau

Micky Mau~Mau by F. X. Schmid, 1978.

Micky Mau~Mau

Comtesse

“Comtesse” by Bielefelder Spielkarten Fabrik GmbH, 1960s.

Comtesse

Wild und Hund Skat

Hunting deck designed by Walter Niedl for “Wild und Hund” magazine, c.1977

Wild und Hund Skat

Angler Skat

Angler Skat manufactured by VEB Altenburg, c.1981

Angler Skat

Hunting Themed Skat

German-suited hunting themed deck designed by Günter Schmitz and made by VEB Altenburg, 1980.

Hunting Themed Skat

Four Days of Walking Event

Dutch playing cards promoting the annual International Four Days of Walking Event held in Holland, 2016

Four Days of Walking Event

Hunter’s Bridge

“Hunter’s Bridge” playing cards by ASS depicting animals and associated symbols of hunting, c.1976.

Hunter’s Bridge

Dragon Fight

Dragon Fight card game by Playmobil ®, 2014.

Dragon Fight

Joseph Losch

French-suited pack with full-length courts by Joseph Losch, c.1800.

Joseph Losch

Schlager Film Revue

Schlager Film Revue “Hot and Sweet” Quartett für Teenager, 1964.

Schlager Film Revue

Skat Politisch

Political “Skat Politisch” published by ASS, 1976

Skat Politisch

Skat Express

One end Berlin pattern the other standard English pattern

Skat Express

F. X. Schmid Mini-Patience

Miniature Patience playing cards in Rococo style published by F. X. Schmid, c.1960

F. X. Schmid Mini-Patience

Filmstar-Parade

Filmstar-Parade Quartet card game published by F X Schmid, Munich, c.1958.

Filmstar-Parade

Die Vogel-Welt No. 351

Dondorf’s “Die Vogel-Welt” No. 351 quartet game, c.1905

Die Vogel-Welt No. 351