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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

Anonymous possibly Kaspar Traugott Knaut.

The maker is possibly Kaspar Traugott Knaut (1799-1881).

Anonymous possibly Kaspar Traugott Knaut.

Schweizer Trachten

Schweizer Trachten No.174 (Costumes Suisses) by Dondorf.

Schweizer Trachten

History of Playing Cards explained in 5 Minutes

Video by Art of Impossible. In this video you will get a short overview of the most important historical facts about playing cards and their history.

History of Playing Cards explained in 5 Minutes

J. W. Spear and Sons

Jacob Wolfe Spear founded his company manufacturing fancy goods in 1879 near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany

J. W. Spear and Sons

Andere Zeiten - Andere Kleider

‘History of fashion’ cultural quartet game designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, 1954.

Andere Zeiten - Andere Kleider

The ‘Rinker’ Snap

The ‘Rinker’ highly amusing snap game, c.1910.

The ‘Rinker’ Snap

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes illustrated by Ludwig Winkler, published by Verlag für Lehrmittel Pößneck.

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes

So Fängt Es An

“So Fängt Es An” beautifully illustrated by M. Neugebauer, published by Helingsche Verlagsanstalt, c.1950.

So Fängt Es An

Verkehrsmittel Einst und Jetzt

“Verkehrsmittel Einst und Jetzt” transport quartet game by Bielefelder Spielkarten Fabrik GmbH, 1958.

Verkehrsmittel Einst und Jetzt

Asterix Abenteuer

Asterix Adventure quartet game by ASS, 1989.

Asterix Abenteuer

Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien

‘Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien’ family card game by Dondorf.

Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien

Zwarte Piet

Zwarte Piet by Dondorf for the Dutch market, 1906.

Zwarte Piet

Gulliver im Land der Zwerge

Gulliver in the Land of Dwarfs quartet published by Verlag für Lehrmittel, Pößneck.

Gulliver im Land der Zwerge

Bass & Bass Jeu des Familles

Bass & Bass ‘Jeu des Familles’ made by Franz-Josef Holler, Münich, 1989.

Bass & Bass Jeu des Familles

Bedeutende Erfindungen im Alltag

‘Significant Inventions in Everyday Life’ quartet game published by Verlag für Lehrmittel, Pössneck, 1979.

Bedeutende Erfindungen im Alltag

“Deck with French suits”

A facsimile of an early 19th century French-suited deck from the collection of F.X. Schmid.

“Deck with French suits”

Geschichte des Motorrades

History of Motorcycles quartet published by Verlag für Lehrmittel Pößneck, 1989.

Geschichte des Motorrades

Loriot Rummy

Delightful comical deck designed by Loriot, the German cartoonist and comedian, 1973.

Loriot Rummy

Kaffeehaus-Pikett

Kaffeehaus-Pikett featuring the old Viennese Large Crown pattern, made by ASS.

Kaffeehaus-Pikett

Musikinstrumente

Musikinstrumente quartet game published by Verlag für Lehrmittel, Pössneck, 1984.

Musikinstrumente

Seefahrers II

‘Seefahrers’ maritime deck designed by Klaus Ensikat for Deutsche Seereederei Rostock, GDR.

Seefahrers II

Darling

Darling pin-up playing cards designed by Heinz Villiger, c.1950s-60s.

Darling

Sprookjes Kwartet

Fairy Tales quartet published by Heinrich Schwarz + Co for Dutch market, c.1970.

Sprookjes Kwartet

Einhorn

‘Einhorn’ designed by Richard König, c.1986.

Einhorn

Renovation 2.000

Renovation 2.000 playing cards with special courts designed by Jean Hoffmann.

Renovation 2.000

Märchen-Quartett

Fairy Tales quartet game by F.X. Schmid, Munich, 1960.

Märchen-Quartett

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen - Quartett game promoting Kali brand crop fertilizer, 1938.

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen

Märchen-Quartett

Märchen-Quartett (Fairy Tales) illustrated by J. P. Werth and published by J. W. Spear & Söhne, c.1915.

Märchen-Quartett

One Penny Games

One Penny Card Games, 1920s.

One Penny Games

One Penny Games 2

One Penny Card Games, 1900-1910, mostly anonymous 'Snap' games and made in Germany.

One Penny Games 2

Schwarzer Peter Der Wald und seine Leute

Schwarzer Peter the Forest and its People, illustrated by Liesel Lauterborn, 1955.

Schwarzer Peter Der Wald und seine Leute

Wie Wird das Wetter

Wie Wird das Wetter, a Black Peter game about the weather created by Gunter Eckhardt, published by Rudolf Forkel,1952.

Wie Wird das Wetter

Märchenquartett

Fairy Tales quartet designed by Annemarie Gramberg, published by Vereinigte Altenburger und Stralsunder Spielkarten-Fabriken AG, 1955.

Märchenquartett

Naval and Military Families

Naval and Military Families produced by Prince and Princess Louis of Battenberg, printed by Ernst Nister of Nuremberg, c.1905-10.

Naval and Military Families

Ups & Downs

Ups and Downs humorous card game published in UK by A. N. Myers, c.1885.

Ups & Downs

Capilettor

Capilettor cartoon playing cards published by VASS, Leinfelden, 1978.

Capilettor

Historische Verkehrswege

“Historische Verkehrswege” quartet game published by Verlag für Lehrmittel Pössneck, 1988.

Historische Verkehrswege

The Game of Numbers

The Game of Numbers published by Globe Series, c.1900.

The Game of Numbers

Snap

Snap card game published in UK by Globe (Oppenheimer und Sulzbacher), late 19th century.

Snap

Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers card game by Globe Series, c.1900.

Questions and Answers

Gerrymanders

Gerrymanders by Globe Series of Games, c.1900.

Gerrymanders

Happy Families

Happy Families published by Globe Series, c.1900.

Happy Families

Deutsche Geschichte

German History Quartet published by Otto Maier Verlag Ravensburg, c.1930-35.

Deutsche Geschichte

Gundlach Skat No.100

Skat No.100 by E. Gundlach, Bielefeld, 1949.

Gundlach Skat No.100

Iohann Christoph Hes Tarot c.1750

Facsimile of Tarot de Marseille by Iohann Christoph Hes, Augsburg, c.1750.

Iohann Christoph Hes Tarot c.1750

Notgeld - Emergen¢y Money

Notgeld - Emergency Money - was in rare cases issued on playing cards.

Notgeld - Emergen¢y Money

Neues Frag˗ und Antwortspiel

Neues Frag- und Antwortspiel (new question and answer game) from Germany.

Neues Frag˗ und Antwortspiel

Die 4 Jahreszeiten

Die 4 Jahreszeiten Quartett-Spiel illustrated by Anneliese Tesdorpf, published by F X Schmid, 1950.

Die 4 Jahreszeiten