The World of Playing Cards Logo 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.

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‘501’ playing cards by Alf Cooke

“Five 'o One” playing cards, a version of the Dondorf Rhineland pattern, manufactured by Universal Playing Card Co. Ltd for export to Scandinavia. • Jan 01, 1970

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007 Guns & Gadgets

“007 Guns & Gadgets” themed playing cards printed by Carta Mundi, 2005. • Apr 14, 2015

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100 Pipers

100 Pipers Scotch Whisky promotional deck, Waddingtons P.C.Co., c.1973. Includes a Tarot pack offer. • Jul 22, 2016

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12: Goodall & Son

Charles Goodall & Son, 1820-1922 and beyond. • Aug 11, 2012

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14: Back Designs

A few examples of the many interesting back designs. • Sep 10, 2012

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17: Waddington, Including Some of Their Less Common Packs

John Berry's two-volume work on the Waddington archive and collection is a very comprehensive presentation of the history of the firm, but there are some items missing from it which I include here. • Sep 24, 2012

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1893 Worshipful Company Pack

Worshipful Company Pack manufactured by Chas Goodall & Son, 1893. • Oct 16, 2018

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19: 19th Century Breaks With Tradition - Unusual Versions of the Standard English Pattern

The centuries-long tradition of English court cards was subject to misinterpretation and in some cases a desire for individuality. Here are some examples of breaks with that tradition. • Oct 19, 2012

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1960s Retro Styled Playing Cards by Joe Snow

Joe Snow was commissioned to create a pack of cards for Ridley's House of Novelties brand. The pack has been illustrated in a 1960s colourful style. • Jan 16, 2014

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2: Over 70 Years of Collecting Playing Cards

This is a personal account of some of my experiences collecting playing cards. • May 20, 2012

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20: English Card-Makers 1761-1905

An initial survey of 19th century playing-card production. More detailed information appears on other pages. • Nov 06, 2012

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2000 Pips Transformation

Peter Wood’s “2000Pips” transformed playing cards (1999) reveals the artist’s love of nature • Feb 24, 2016

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2000Pips Transformation Pack

2000Pips Transformation Pack • Jan 01, 1970

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27: Cards at Strangers’ Hall, Norwich

There is a very interesting collection of playing cards held at the Strangers' Hall Museum in Norwich. • Jun 25, 2013

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28: How to Analyze and Differentiate Playing Card Plates (De La Rue, Waddington and the Berlin pattern [französisches Bild])

My interest in postage stamp variants led me to apply the same principles to playing cards. • Aug 01, 2013

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29: James English

An overview of the courts and aces of spades produced by James English. • Aug 02, 2013

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30: The Not-So-Minor Cardmakers of the 19th Century - Gibson, Hunt & Bancks

A preliminary look at the card-makers operating in the 19th century. • Sep 04, 2013

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

This page continues the presentation of examples of the major English cardmakers of the 19th century. • Sep 05, 2013

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32: The Not-So-Minor Cardmakers of the 19th Century - Part 3

A survey of the cards made by Creswick and Hardy, with a brief mention of De La Rue, Goodall and Reynolds. • Sep 06, 2013

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33: Functional Changes to Playing Cards

The emphasis throughout my collecting has been on the design of the courts cards, and it should be pointed out that there have been some functional changes to cards, which have affected the traditional designs, especially in the 19th century. • Oct 09, 2013

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35: More Design Copies

Here I want to take another widely copied design and see how individual variation by the copier can take the original design through a lot of changes. I shall take the three USPCC designs: US3 (wide), US3.1 (bridge) and US4 (wide). To the best of my knowledge these are no longer used in the US, exce... • Nov 17, 2013

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36: Minor Makers of the 19th Century

In 19th century England there were a number of makers who produced cards in relatively small quantities. • Dec 20, 2013

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37: Late 19th Century Card-Makers and Problem Cases

After the Old Frizzle period and the tax was reduced to 3d per pack, from 1862 onwards, a number of makers started up, who hadn't made cards before, although they were part of the paper and pasteboard industry. • Jan 03, 2014

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38: Peter Gurney and Other 20th Century Minor Makers

Gurney was not the only printer who went briefly into the playing card business during the twentieth century. • Jun 25, 2014

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39: Mixed Packs

A number of mixed packs appear for sale from time to time, but it's important to sort out what is meant by the term mixed. It is an issue that is not as straightforward as it might seem. • Jun 26, 2014

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41: A Guide to Dating Playing Cards

Dating is a particularly tricky but very interesting problem to tackle and there are many pitfalls • Jun 28, 2014

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46: Henry Hardy, Henry French & Christopher Groser

A brief look at some makers of whom we know little. • Mar 01, 2016

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47: Welch’s postcards and De La Rue’s redrawing

There are a number of court card designs that have never actually been produced as cards. It's a shame some of them never were. • Mar 01, 2016

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49: De La Rue in detail

A detailed presentation of the variants of De La Rue's standard cards • May 31, 2016

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5: De La Rue

In December 1831 Thomas de la Rue was granted his patent for printing playing cards by letterpress. • Jul 04, 2012

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50: Joseph Reynolds

A presentation of my database of Reynolds cards. • Jun 02, 2016

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52: The Isle of Man

The Isle of Man has always been a tax haven within the British Isles and it has also had some interesting packs of cards. • Nov 28, 2016

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58: Woolley & Co.

The firm of Thomas Woolley lasted for many years from 1836-1904 in several different guises. • May 01, 2017

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59: Owen Jones (1809-74) and De La Rue

A selection of examples of Owen Jones's work printed by De La Rue. • Jan 15, 2018

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60: Some less common Goodall packs, 1875-95

There are some interesting packs from Goodall in the last quarter of the 19th century. • Jul 24, 2018

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65: Adverts and related documents 1684-1877

Here are a few early advertisements relating to cards from newspapers 1684-1759 and a number of later 19th century documents of interest. • Mar 10, 2019

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67: Adverts and related material after 1900

The final page of material relating to playing cards from British periodicals. • Mar 27, 2019

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68: Playing cards in glass

My wife and I have recently commissioned a unique pair of stained glass windows for our home. • Mar 28, 2019

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69: My Collection

This is an archive list of my collection. I hope it will be of use and interest to others. • Nov 01, 2019

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7: Brands and Packs

The introduction of brands commenced during the late 19th century as a development of the old qualities: Moguls, Harrys, Highlanders and Merry Andrews. • Jul 08, 2012

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70: Woodblock and stencil : the spade courts

This is a presentation in a more straightforward fashion of the work done by Paul Bostock and me in our book of the same name. • Nov 01, 2019

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71: Woodblock and stencil: the hearts

A presentation of the main characteristics of the wood-block courts of the heart suit. • Nov 02, 2019

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90 Minutes Playing Cards

90 Minutes Playing Cards by IPC Magazines 1993. • Oct 05, 2016

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A Royal Game

A Royal Game featuring Queen Victoria’s children and extended family, published by A. Collier, London, c.1896. • Jun 23, 2020

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Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Toys Animal Families, c.1970. • Apr 10, 2021

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About Georgina Harvey

Georgina Harvey worked together with Karl Gerich. • Jan 01, 1970

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About Karl Gerich

• Jan 01, 1970

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About Ken Lodge

I have been collecting playing cards since I was about eighteen months old (1945). • Oct 10, 2015

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About Peter Wood

PETER WOOD is a UK based artist. • Jan 01, 1970

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About Shelley Fowles

Shelley Fowles was born in South Africa but has lived in the United Kingdom since 1979. She trained in Art in Brighton and London. • Jan 01, 1970

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Adventure Time

‘Adventure Time’ cult sci-fi playing cards published by Forbidden Planet. • Apr 04, 2015