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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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Russia

35 Articles

In 1817 the Imperial Playing-Card Factory (Leningrad) was founded and it played a benevolent role by channelling revenues to the Imperial Foundling Hospitals.

Russian Playing Cards

In 1817 the Imperial Playing-Card Factory (Leningrad) was founded and it played a benevolent role by channelling revenues to the Imperial Foundling Hospitals.

Russian Playing Cards

New Figures by A. I. Charlemagne, 1862

“Renaissance” playing card designs by A I Charlemagne, 1862.

New Figures by A. I. Charlemagne, 1862

The Four Worlds

The Four Worlds playing cards by artist Aleksey Zhiryakov in the stylistic traditions of Palekh, 2018.

The Four Worlds

Cosmopolitan № 2121 playing cards

“Cosmopolitan” № 2121 playing cards designed by Russian artist Valeri Mishin, 1996

Cosmopolitan № 2121 playing cards

Miner’s Cards for Rutek Alliance

Miner’s Cards for the Czech company Rutek Alliance, 2012.

Miner’s Cards for Rutek Alliance

Eastern

“Eastern” playing cards dedicated to ethnic Buryat culture, 2015

Eastern

Anti-Fascist Propaganda Pack for the Siege of Leningrad, 1943

In 1943 a pack of ‘anti-fascist’ playing cards was designed by Vasiliy Andrianovich Vlasov mocking the rulers of Germany and the Axis powers.

Anti-Fascist Propaganda Pack for the Siege of Leningrad, 1943

St Petersburg Souvenir

St Petersburg Souvenir playing cards, 2004

St Petersburg Souvenir

Russia Souvenir Playing Cards

Russia Souvenir Playing Cards published by The Bronze Horseman, c.2004.

Russia Souvenir Playing Cards

The Neva River

A deck designed by Victor M. Sveshnikov dedicated to the Neva river and the city of Saint Petersburg.

The Neva River

Peterhof

“Peterhof” deck manufactured at the Leningrad Colour Printing Plant in 1999.

Peterhof

Back to the USSR

Back to the USSR deck featuring communist party leaders and politicians, c.1995

Back to the USSR

Glorious Russia

‘Glorious Russia’ playing cards made in France by Grimaud, c.1995

Glorious Russia

East Slavonic Mythology

East Slavonic Mythology designed by Aleksey Orleansky (1994) featuring creatures from the watery underworld.

East Slavonic Mythology

Palekh by Aleksey Orleansky

In the style of religious icon paintings, these court card figures wear costumes reminiscent of the mid-17th century.

Palekh by Aleksey Orleansky

Cossack

“Cossack” playing cards, with artwork by O. Panchenko dedicated to the revival of the traditions of the Cossacks. Printed by the Colour Printing Plant, St Petersburg, 1994.

Cossack

Historical playing cards, 1897

Russian “Historical” playing cards with designs by Nikolay Karazin, 1897

Historical playing cards, 1897

Russian Opera Scenes

Russian Opera & Theatre Scenes playing cards first published by the Colour Printing Plant (USSR, Russian Federation) in 1973

Russian Opera Scenes

Maya

“Maya” playing cards designed by Russian artist V. M. Sveshnikov and first published by The Colour Printing Plant, St Petersburg, in 1975.

Maya

White Palekh

“White Palekh” was first published by the The Colour Printing Plant in St. Petersburg in 1982 with designs by Pavel Bazhenov.

White Palekh

Russian Slavic Costumes

Russian style “Slavic Costumes” playing cards first published in 1911

Russian Slavic Costumes

Winter Deck by Ultramarine Designs

Inspired by freezing tribal images of northern winter, this deck is called to show you all its mystic and dangerous beauty.

Winter Deck by Ultramarine Designs

La Traviata

“La Traviata” playing cards designed by Erté, c.1985.

La Traviata

Anti-Religions

The Russians were no strangers to propaganda cards. Clubs represent the Russian Orthodox church, Hearts Roman Catholicism, Spades Confucianism and Diamonds represent Judaism.

Anti-Religions

Unknown Publisher

Playing Cards by Unknown Publisher, Georgia (Russia) 1920s.

Unknown Publisher

Russian Playing Cards

In 1817 the Imperial Playing-Card Factory (Leningrad) was founded and it played a benevolent role by channelling revenues to the Imperial Foundling Hospitals.

Russian Playing Cards

Simultané

The rigour of simple geometric forms with an inner life and poetry which emanated from the richness of colour, the musicality of rhythm, the vibrant breath of the execution...

Simultané

Rokoko

Rokoko

Russian Standard Playing Cards

Cards from a Russian standard woodblock and stencil pack of circa 1820.

Russian Standard Playing Cards

Russian Constitutional Playing Cards, 1909

A rare American Russian political pack depicting events and moods in early 20th century Russia.

Russian Constitutional Playing Cards, 1909