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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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Africa

15 Articles

Ethiopian

Ethiopian playing cards designed for the Ethiopian Tourist Organization by Afewerk Teklé.

Ethiopian

Sapra Studio Original

Sapra Studio Original playing cards featuring wild animals of S Africa, 1999.

Sapra Studio Original

Ethiopian Air Lines

Ethiopian Air Lines playing cards designed by Melles Habtezghi with courts wearing regional costumes, c.1969.

Ethiopian Air Lines

Trinidad Carnival Playing Cards

“Allfours Carnival Playing Cards” designed by Gabby Woodham, Trinidad, 1995

Trinidad Carnival Playing Cards

Sandton City

African tribal mask playing cards for Sandton City, Johannesburg.

Sandton City

African Art

“African Art” Playing cards by John J. Beckvermit III, 1994

African Art

East African Playing Cards

East African Playing Cards by Heraclio Fournier S.A., 1957.

East African Playing Cards

Egypt Souvenir

Souvenir from Egypt - the home of lovely memories - 54 colour photos, c.1980.

Egypt Souvenir

Pharaonic Souvenir of Egypt

Pharaonic Souvenir of Egypt, c.2010

Pharaonic Souvenir of Egypt

Papyrus playing cards

Egyptian ‘Papyrus’ playing cards with beautiful illustrations against a papyrus background.

Papyrus playing cards

McDonald’s Playing Cards

McDonald’s playing cards by the United States Playing Card Co., Cincinnati, c.1997

McDonald’s Playing Cards

David Robert

“David Robert” playing cards with artwork after Robert's Sketches in Egypt and Nubia.

David Robert

African themed playing cards

Pharaoh Palmier Poker, the Sasatki Black Pack.

African themed playing cards