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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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15 Articles
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21: Belgian Makers: Brepols and Biermans

Brepols started making playing cards in 1826, although he had been in the printing trade since 1800. In 1833 the firm was called Brepols & Dierckx (the former's son-in-law). Biermans (1875-1970) was a relatively late arrival on the Turnhout playing card scene. • Nov 08, 2012

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Artex Quadrilato for Tunisia

Artex Quadrilato No.333 for Tunisia • Jul 03, 2014

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Belgian Playing Cards

Belgian cardmakers have been actively designing and exporting playing cards since the 14th century. • Jan 01, 1970

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Biermans Genoese pattern

Biermans Genoese pattern for Clayson agricultural machinery, late 1960s. • Apr 06, 2017

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One of the outstanding and most popular packs made by the Turnhout cardmakers was the Bongoût type. Special scenic Aces could be added to packs according to the client’s preferences. • Jun 06, 2010

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Brepols Genoese pattern

“Cartes Françaises” and Genoese pattern by Brepols. • Aug 18, 2015

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Cerveza ‘El Gallo’

Advertising pack for Cerveza ‘El Gallo’ made in Belgium, c.1880 • May 27, 2010

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Dubois card makers from Liège in the Walloon Region of Belgium. • Dec 28, 2021

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Genoese pattern

The design is purely 'Parisian' but the colouring is green, red, yellow and black. Belgium has taken this pattern for general use. • Jan 29, 2010

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Léonard Biermans, Turnhout

Léonard Biermans had been employed by Brepols from 1871-1874 before opening his own playing card factory in 1875. • Apr 04, 2010

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Manuf’d for L.N. Mann

Standard English pattern manuf’d for L.N. Mann by Van Genechten, c.1890 • Sep 14, 2015

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Naypes Finos made in Belgium

Belgian manufacturers were competing against Spanish makers. Features of the traditional Spanish designs, including many well-known brands, were imitated or plagiarised. Often they were anonymous so as to avoid importation duties in the destination country. • Jan 01, 1970

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Standard Genoese

Van Genechten manufactured playing cards in various styles, including specially customised versions for commercial clients wishing to advertise their own brands on the cards. • Jun 06, 2010

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Tobacco advertising

Advertising decks made in Belgium by A. Van Genechten, 1960s. • Sep 01, 2015

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Van Genechten

A. Van Genechten ran a flourishing business, supplying various kinds of cards both inside the country and abroad including England, Spain, France, Denmark, South-East Asia, China and Japan • Mar 01, 2012