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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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Switzerland

40 Articles

The Swiss national suit system of shields, acorns, hawk bells and flowers emerged sometime during the XV century

Swiss Playing Cards

The Swiss national suit system of shields, acorns, hawk bells and flowers emerged sometime during the XV century

Swiss Playing Cards

Müller: Richelieu

This deck is named after Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu (1585-1642), a French Roman Catholic Clergyman and statesman, Chief Adviser to King Louis XIII, noted for the authoritarian measures he employed to maintain power.

Müller: Richelieu

William Tell

Facsimile of Swiss William Tell deck from c.1870 published by Lo Scarabeo.

William Tell

Werbung die Sticht

“Werbung die Sticht” deck with artwork by Fritz Bünzli to promote advertising on playing cards by AG Müller 1982.

Werbung die Sticht

Investors Overseas Services

Investors Overseas Services, Ltd. (IOS) by A. G. Müller (Schaffhausen), c.1969.

Investors Overseas Services

Johannes Müller c.1840

Facsimile edition of Swiss suited deck first published by Johannes Müller in c.1840.

Johannes Müller c.1840

Alchimistenspiel

Alchimistenspiel - Jeu des Alchimistes designed by Elfriede Weidenhaus, 1967.

Alchimistenspiel

French Suited Piquet

French Suited Piquet by David Vachet, Switzerland, c.1812.

French Suited Piquet

Brunner Möbel

Publicity pack for Brunner Möbel with graphic design by André Stehle, 1966

Brunner Möbel

AGMüller English Pattern

AGMüller standard English pattern for the Royal Jordanian Airline, 1980s

AGMüller English Pattern

Modern Swiss-German Pattern

Modern Swiss-German Pattern by AGMüller, c.2000.

Modern Swiss-German Pattern

Krienser Fasnachts-Jass 1988

The Krienser Fasnachts-Jass deck was designed and published by Léon Schnyder from Kriens for the 1988 Fasnacht Carnival

Krienser Fasnachts-Jass 1988

Marguerite

Each court figure is richly decorated and holding something different: a letter, a wreath, a quill pen, a mace, a bird, a flower, a cushion, a goblet, a flute, etc.

Marguerite

Schweizer Luxus-Jasskarte No.41

The lower and upper knaves are depicted in a vibrant and lively manner, while the enthroned kings are more ponderous. The traditional Swiss Shield court cards also have beer tankards with a barrel on the Deuce.

Schweizer Luxus-Jasskarte No.41

Jass Allemand

Egbert Moehsnang produced this contemporary Swiss-suited, double-ended pack, based on original XV century sources, with highly legible indices and colour scheme, but they were simply shunned by card players and the idea wasn't successful.

Jass Allemand

Casino

“Casino” pack made by J. Müller & Cie & Cie, Schaffhouse. The pack was probably designed by Josef Maria Melchior Annen (1868-1954) who also designed several other packs for Müller & Cie.

Casino

Rococco

Designed by Josef Maria Melchior Annen (1868-1954) who also designed several other packs for Müller & Cie.

Rococco

Basler Fasnachts-Karten

The Basler Fasnachts deck is designed each year by a different local artist.

Basler Fasnachts-Karten

Swiss Album patience

Swiss Album patience cards manufactured by C. L. Wüst (Frankfurt), c.1900, with a different landscape on the reverse of each card. The court cards depict costumed figures along with shields from the cantons.

Swiss Album patience

Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner playing cards designed by Melchior Annen.

Richard Wagner

Gertrude Kümpel, 1989

Playing cards inspired by stained glass, designed by Gertrude Kümpel, 1989.

Gertrude Kümpel, 1989

Spanish Cadiz-style pack

Traditional Spanish Cadiz-style pack manufactured by Müller & Cie, Schaffhausen, 1952.

Spanish Cadiz-style pack

Humanist pack by J. Müller & Cie

'Humanist' pack made by J. Müller & Cie (Schaffhouse), originally named 'Troubador'. The pack was designed by Melchior Annen (1868-1954) who also designed several other packs for Müller & Cie.

Humanist pack by J. Müller & Cie

Swiss Playing Cards

The Swiss national suit system of shields, acorns, hawk bells and flowers emerged sometime during the XV century

Swiss Playing Cards

Swiss Regional Costumes Playing Cards, c.1890

This Swiss Regional Costume pack can be seen as an early form of tourist souvenir which subsequently developed into the photographic souvenir pack.

Swiss Regional Costumes Playing Cards, c.1890

Swiss French Suited Playing Cards, c.1840

French-suited playing-cards in the Paris pattern appeared in Switzerland around the end of the sixteenth century, when many Lyonnais cardmakers were driven away by heavy taxes.

Swiss French Suited Playing Cards, c.1840

Swiss Scenic Ace Souvenir Cards, c.1850

Souvenir pack with Scenic Aces made by Müller (Diessenhofen), c.1850.

Swiss Scenic Ace Souvenir Cards, c.1850

Swiss Mogul Cards, 1880-1890

English type 'Mogul' playing cards manufactured in Switzerland by John Müller for export to India, c.1880-1890.

Swiss Mogul Cards, 1880-1890

Madame Lenormand Fortune Telling Cards

Madame Lenormand Fortune Telling Cards made by Müller.

Madame Lenormand Fortune Telling Cards

David Hurter, Schaffhausen

David Hurter built up a playing card business in Schaffhausen during the 18th century.

David Hurter, Schaffhausen

Müller (Diessenhofen), c.1840-50.

Playing Cards made by J. Müller, Diessenhofen, c.1840-50 with court cards coloured differently at each end.

Müller (Diessenhofen), c.1840-50.

Swiss Playing Cards by David Hurter, c.1830

David Hurter had begun to build up a playing card business in Schaffhausen during the late 18th century.

Swiss Playing Cards by David Hurter, c.1830

Antique Swiss Playing Cards, c.1530

The Swiss national suit system of shields, acorns, hawkbells and flowers originated sometime during the fifteenth century.

Antique Swiss Playing Cards, c.1530

Swiss Piquet Playing Cards, c.1850-60

Piquet playing-cards made by J. Müller, Diessenhofen, c.1850-60. The full-length court cards are following the French style.

Swiss Piquet Playing Cards, c.1850-60

Swiss Spanish-Suited Cards, c.1875

Spanish-suited playing cards manufactured by J. Müller for export to Latin American countries, c.1875.

Swiss Spanish-Suited Cards, c.1875

Swiss Scenic Ace Souvenir Cards, c.1860

Souvenir pack with Scenic Aces made by J. Müller (Diessenhofen), c.1860. The courts are conventional figures based on French designs.

Swiss Scenic Ace Souvenir Cards, c.1860

The Princely Hunting pack, c.1440

The Princely Hunting Pack, c.1440/45, is attributed to Konrad Witz and his workshop in Basle.

The Princely Hunting pack, c.1440

Playing cards in the Upper Rhine region

Documentary evidence suggests that card playing established itself in Italy in 1376, and then spread rapidly northwards across the Alps into the Upper Rhine regions of Germany and Switzerland and westwards into France and Spain.

Playing cards in the Upper Rhine region