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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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Belgium

79 Articles

Belgian cardmakers have been actively designing and exporting playing cards since the 14th century.

Belgian Playing Cards

Belgian cardmakers have been actively designing and exporting playing cards since the 14th century.

Belgian Playing Cards

Dubois

Dubois card makers from Liège in the Walloon Region of Belgium.

Dubois

Luxus Skatkarte Nr.1134

Luxus Skatkarte Nr.1134 printed by Brepols for Germany, c.1940s.

Luxus Skatkarte Nr.1134

Brazil Pictorial Aces

Genoese pattern with Pictorial Aces for Brazil by Brepols, Turnhout, c.1920.

Brazil Pictorial Aces

Stationskwartetspel

Railway Stations quartet game illustrated by Wim Dolk and published by Servex BV, Utrecht, 1975.

Stationskwartetspel

Dynastie Royale de Belgique

Dynastie Royale de Belgique by Mesmaekers, 1934.

Dynastie Royale de Belgique

Year of the Child

Year of the Child commemorative deck designed by Jhan Paulussen, 1979.

Year of the Child

Cigar Bands

A collection of 24 cigar bands with miniature playing cards.

Cigar Bands

007 Die Another Day

“007 Die Another Day” James Bond themed playing cards, 2002.

007 Die Another Day

Spectrum Bridge by Cartamundi

Spectrum Bridge by Cartamundi

Spectrum Bridge by Cartamundi

Calavera Playing Cards

Calavera playing cards designed by Jirs Huygen for Cartamundi, 2015

Calavera Playing Cards

Belle Vue Gueuze

Promotional playing cards designed by Wim Simons, Belgium, 1960s.

Belle Vue Gueuze

Boerenbond Veevoeders

Promotional deck designed by Ray Goossens for the Boerenbond farmers’ union, c.1968.

Boerenbond Veevoeders

Bayer

Humorous pharmaceutical deck made by Antoine van Genechten for Bayer, c.1963.

Bayer

Butagaz

“Butagaz” playing cards for the French gas company, c.1976

Butagaz

Mickey Kids

Mickey Kids playing cards from Disney.

Mickey Kids

Velux

Velux - la fenêtre de toit de qualité, c.1990.

Velux

Biermans Genoese pattern

Biermans Genoese pattern for Clayson agricultural machinery, late 1960s.

Biermans Genoese pattern

Jean Borin

‘Cartes de Luxe’ with artwork by Belgian artist and designer Jean Borin (1907-1997).

Jean Borin

Banque Nationale de Paris, c.1962

Special deck made for La Banque Nationale de Paris by Van Genechten, Turnhout, c.1962.

Banque Nationale de Paris, c.1962

M/S Kronprins Harald

Souvenir of Jahre Line Ferry M/S Kronprins Harald

M/S Kronprins Harald

British Airways Concorde

British Airways Concorde playing cards made in Belgium by Carta Mundi, before 2003.

British Airways Concorde

Cartes de Luxe (1877) facsimile

‘Cartes de Luxe’ first published by Biermans in 1877 was reproduced in facsimile by Amstel Beer in c.1980.

Cartes de Luxe (1877) facsimile

Genever Giraf

Dutch pattern advertising deck for Genever Giraf made by Van Genechten in the 1950s.

Genever Giraf

Piket Fijne Speelkaarten, c.1925-30

‘Piket Fijne Speelkaarten’ by La Turnhoutoise, c.1925-30.

Piket Fijne Speelkaarten, c.1925-30

BG Bouw Building Company

BG Bouw Dutch Building Company publicity deck manufactured by Carta Mundi, c.1980.

BG Bouw Building Company

Max Velthuijs for KLM

Playing cards designed by Max Velthuijs for KLM airlines first published c.1964

Max Velthuijs for KLM

Domino Cards, c.1890

Domino Cards by Mesmaekers Frères, c.1890

Domino Cards, c.1890

Millennium

‘Millennium’ limited edition playing cards by Carta Mundi, 1999

Millennium

Le Jeu des Alliés

“Le Jeu des Alliés” manufactured by Mesmaekers N.V., Turnhout, 1945.

Le Jeu des Alliés

Food Exchange

“Food Exchange“ playing cards designed by Ralph Dobson for the British Diabetic Association, 1973.

Food Exchange

Anon Spanish Cards c.1875

Spanish-suited playing cards made in Belgium by Léonard Biermans, c.1875.

Anon Spanish Cards c.1875

Manuf’d for L.N. Mann

Standard English pattern manuf’d for L.N. Mann by Van Genechten, c.1890.

Manuf’d for L.N. Mann

Tobacco advertising

Advertising decks made in Belgium by A. Van Genechten, 1960s.

Tobacco advertising

Four Colour Cards / 四色牌 / Si Sek Pai

Four Colour Cards made in Belgium for Far Eastern markets

Four Colour Cards / 四色牌 / Si Sek Pai

Brepols Genoese pattern

“Cartes Françaises” and Genoese pattern by Brepols.

Brepols Genoese pattern

Abbey Playing Cards

Abbey Playing Cards made in Belgium by La Turnhoutoise, c.1950s.

Abbey Playing Cards

West Flanders Souvenir

West Flanders Souvenir pack manufactured in Belgium by Mesmaekers, c.1950.

West Flanders Souvenir

Chi Chi Pai

Chinese “Chi Chi Pai” Playing Cards by Mesmaekers Frères for Far East market, c.1890.

Chi Chi Pai

Carta Mundi

Carta Mundi was founded in Turnhout on 27 June 1970 by pooling the production and sales facilities of the three surviving companies: Brepols, Van Genechten and Leonard Biermans.

Carta Mundi

Lion Brand No.1492 : Jet Fuel

Advertising deck for "Jet" fuels, and "Lion Brand" No.1429 manufactured in Belgium by Biermans, 1960s.

Lion Brand No.1492 : Jet Fuel

Vandenborre Tarot

Belgian Tarot published by François-Jean Vandenborre, Brussels (1762-1803)

Vandenborre Tarot

John Player Special

John Player Special non-standard playing cards created by the illustrator Nick Price, 1987

John Player Special

Artex Quadrilato for Tunisia

Artex Quadrilato No.333 for Tunisia

Artex Quadrilato for Tunisia

Fake Blanchard Ace of Spades

Fake Blanchard Ace of Spades with court cards based on Hall.

Fake Blanchard Ace of Spades

Pop Rocky

“Pop Rocky” miniature playing cards with double-ended caricatures of celebrities and pop stars, originally published inside a magazine, c.1970.

Pop Rocky

Daveluy

Daveluy produced card games between c.1840 and 1890. Many of his playing cards have historical connotations and show figures with a landscape background.

Daveluy

Moyen-Age by Daveluy

Cartes Moyen-Age by Daveluy, Bruges, c.1875.

Moyen-Age by Daveluy

Sport No.31

Van Genechten first registered an Ace of Spades for English playing cards in 1885 followed by the ‘Sailor’ Joker.

Sport No.31

L’union fait la force

“L’Union Fait la Force”, sometimes known as “the Allied pack”, has the four suits dedicated to the victorious nations of the Second World War.

L’union fait la force