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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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americana

16 Articles

Notched Construction Cards

Two Notched Construction Card Sets by Shackman & Co, N.Y. 1970s.

Notched Construction Cards

Roundup

Roundup card game by Whitman Publishing, 1951.

Roundup

Gunfighters

Gunfighters playing cards from the Wild West Series by SPCC, 2018.

Gunfighters

Native American Warriors

Native American Warriors from the Wild West Series published by SPCC, 2018.

Native American Warriors

Riders of the Range

Riders of the Range by Pepys, 1953.

Riders of the Range

State Historical Society of Wisconsin

Souvenir deck from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin containing photographs from museum collections and archives on each card.

State Historical Society of Wisconsin

Southern Pacific Souvenir

Southern Pacific Souvenir of the Golden West playing cards - Sunset, American Canyon and Shasta Routes - published by the Interstate Company exclusively for Southern Pacific News Service, c.1915.

Southern Pacific Souvenir

Superman

Superman World Hero™ playing cards made in Belgium by Carta Mundi

Superman

McDonald’s Playing Cards

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

McDonald’s Playing Cards

Globe Card Company

“Globe Playing Cards” patented on Oct. 6, 1874 by I. N. Richardson.

Globe Card Company

President Suspender

An historic American advertising deck for the C. A. Edgarton Mfg Company, manufacturers of the President Suspender (known as “braces” in England) depicting U.S. Presidents and First Ladies on the courts.

President Suspender

Steamboats No.99

Steamboats No.99 was one of a number of brands produced by the American Playing Card Co. of Kalamazoo.

Steamboats No.99

Charles Bartlet

Elaborate court cards on a deck by Charles Bartlet, Philadelphia, (who was in fact Samuel Hart) c.1845-60. The pip cards are double-ended. The date may be somewhere between c.1845-65.

Charles Bartlet

Wild West

Wild West card game published by Pepys, 1963.

Wild West

National Card Co.

The National Card Co. was formed in c.1886 by Samuel J Murray, who as a young man had worked in England in Charles Goodall's playing card factory. In 1881 he moved to Cincinnati and became an employee of Russell & Morgan playing card manufacturers. In 1886 he left Russell & Morgan and moved to Indianapolis to establish the National Card Company.

National Card Co.