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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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arabic

21 Articles

Persian Miniatures

Persian Miniatures, made in Hungary c.1990.

Persian Miniatures

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah

Gold plated souvenir playing cards from the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel in Dubai.

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah

Qajar Dynasty playing cards

Qajar Dynasty playing cards, Iran, 19th century.

Qajar Dynasty playing cards

Les Artisans Tunisiens

“Les Artisans Tunisiens” Jeu de Sept Familles published by Éditions de la Mediterranée, Alpha S.A., Tunis

Les Artisans Tunisiens

Boutros Arabic Playing Cards

Arabic playing cards designed by Evy Maros & Mourad Boutros, c.1990

Boutros Arabic Playing Cards

David Robert

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

David Robert

Hafez Fortune Telling Cards

Fortune Tellers use the Hafez Cards by interpreting the Hāfez poems printed on the card backs when cards are selected randomly by their consultants.

Hafez Fortune Telling Cards

Patience Indien

Karl Gerich's “Patience Indien No.16”, published in 1991, is adapted from Grimaud's “Whist Indienne” (c.1900). The double-ended courts are dressed in Arab garb.

Patience Indien

Iran

Representing Iranian culture and history and intended for a Persian market, these playing cards were designed by V. Romanowski de Boncza, ordered by the Iranian government playing card monopoly at the time and printed by Thomas De la Rue & Co., Ltd, c.1937.

Iran

Tunisia

Playing Cards in Tunisia. Chkobba is one of the most popular card games in Tunisia, mainly played by men in coffee shops but also played at home by men and women alike.

Tunisia

Anonymous

Anonymous Moroccan Playing Cards for Royal Air Maroc airlines and others...

Anonymous

Chaudsoleil Wine

Chaudsoleil Red Wine advertising playing cards from Morocco.

Chaudsoleil Wine

Moorish playing cards

These two uncoloured, uncut sheets of early Moorish playing cards were formerly preserved in the Instituto Municipal de Historia in Barcelona.

Moorish playing cards

A. Camoin & Cie, Casablanca & Marseille

Spanish national pattern by A. Camoin & Cie, Casablanca & Marseille

A. Camoin & Cie, Casablanca & Marseille

Casablanca playing cards from Morocco

Moroccan cards with the legend 'Casablanca'

Casablanca playing cards from Morocco

Moroccan Bank of Commerce and Industry

Advertising pack for the Moroccan Bank of Commerce and Industry, 1986

Moroccan Bank of Commerce and Industry

Cartes La Gazelle, Casablanca

Cartes La Gazelle, manufactured by Imprimerie de L’Entente, Casablanca

Cartes La Gazelle, Casablanca

Playing cards in Morocco

The earliest literary references to playing cards in Europe refer to the game having been introduced by a 'Saracen', and also to Moorish and Damascene varieties of playing card.

Playing cards in Morocco

Algeria

Spanish suited playing cards produced by B. P. Grimaud (Paris) for Algeria, around 1910.

Algeria