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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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89 Articles

Pato Donald

Donald Duck card game © Walt Disney Productions, by Naipes Fournier, 1984.

Pato Donald

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

Inspector Gadget

The Adventures of Inspector Gadget quartet game published by Fournier in 1983.

Inspector Gadget

Periquito y Tontín Dominoes

Periquito y Tontín Dominoes, featuring Feliz and Bonzo, 1920s.

Periquito y Tontín Dominoes

Christmas Playing Cards

Christmas Playing Cards published by Novelty Playing Cards, Syracuse, New York, 1986.

Christmas Playing Cards

Loriot Rummy

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

Loriot Rummy

Hamm’s Beer

Hamm’s Beer promotion deck with bear cartoons by Frank M. Antoncich 1968.

Hamm’s Beer

Biff! Bang!! Wallop!!!

Biff! Bang!! Wallop!!! family card game published by H.P. Gibson & Sons Ltd, 1939.

Biff! Bang!! Wallop!!!

Capilettor

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

Capilettor

Flintstones Happy Families

Flintstones Happy Families by J. W. Spear and Sons, c.1960.

Flintstones Happy Families

Happy Families

Happy Families by Norvic Mill, c.1920s.

Happy Families

Shuffled Symphonies

Shuffled Symphonies published by Pepys Games in association with Walt Disney, 1939.

Shuffled Symphonies

Naipes Parliament por Caloi

Carlos Loiseau, better known as ‘Caloi’, was a cartoonist whose designs for Parliament Cigarettes were first published in the early 1970s.

Naipes Parliament por Caloi

Mickey’s Fun Fair

Mickey’s Fun Fair published by Pepys Games in collaboration with Walt Disney, 1939.

Mickey’s Fun Fair

Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver’s Travels by Pepys Games, based on the cartoon film, 1940.

Gulliver’s Travels

Mordillo Skat

Mordillo Skat designed by Guillermo Mordillo, c.1979

Mordillo Skat

Boerenbond Veevoeders

Promotional deck designed by Ray Goossens for the Boerenbond farmers’ union, c.1968.

Boerenbond Veevoeders

Löwen Entertainment

Skat deck for Löwen Entertainment, producers of electronic gaming machines, 1986

Löwen Entertainment

Geprüfte Sicherheit

Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Accident Research, 1978

Geprüfte Sicherheit

Butagaz

“Butagaz” playing cards for the French gas company, c.1976

Butagaz

Michelin Tyres, c.1970

Michelin Tyres by Waddingtons, c.1970.

Michelin Tyres, c.1970

Micky Mau~Mau

Micky Mau~Mau by F. X. Schmid, 1978.

Micky Mau~Mau

Farmyard Cries

Farmyard Cries card game, designed by Racey Helps and published by Pepys Games, 1952.

Farmyard Cries

Naipes Garaycochea

Humorous playing cards designed by Carlos Garaycochea, Buenos Aires, c.2002.

Naipes Garaycochea

Mundialito de Radiolandia 2000

‘Mundialito’ toy football playing cards published inside the magazine ‘Radiolandia 2000’, Argentina, 1978.

Mundialito de Radiolandia 2000

Fred Basset

Fred Basset card game published by Pepys in 1977 based on the cartoon strip by Alex Graham.

Fred Basset

Astérix

Cartes à Jouer ‘Astérix’ published by Ducale, 1987.

Astérix

Playing Cards designed by Alvaros

Playing Cards designed by Alvaros, published by Eduardo Carrión, Montevideo, 2000

Playing Cards designed by Alvaros

Alice

Alice card game published by Pepys in 1952, based on the Walt Disney film “Alice in Wonderland”.

Alice

Dumbo

Walt Disney’s Dumbo card game published by Pepys, 1939.

Dumbo

Tarot de l’An 2000

“Tarot de l’An 2000” designed by Pino Zac, 1981, satirising 20th century life.

Tarot de l’An 2000

Ottakar’s Happy Families

Ottakar’s Happy Families designed by Chris Burke, 2000.

Ottakar’s Happy Families

Habemus Boda, 2004

“Habemus Boda” deck celebrating the royal wedding of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain with cartoons by Sir Cámara

Habemus Boda, 2004

Cartes Recréatives

Cartes Recréatives is a set of Transformed playing cards designed by Armand-Gustave Houbigant (1790-1863) and first published by Terquem et May, Metz, in 1819.

Cartes Recréatives

Tom and Jerry Snap

Tom and Jerry Snap published by Pepys Games, 1972.

Tom and Jerry Snap

Jacqueline Wilson Playing Cards

“Jacqueline Wilson” playing cards were illustrated by Nick Sharratt and published by Winning Moves UK Ltd in 2007.

Jacqueline Wilson Playing Cards

The Perishers

The Perishers, based on the TV cartoon series, published by Pepys in 1974.

The Perishers

Army Health Promotion

Health Promotion playing cards issued by the British Army with cartoons about army life and information on where to get health advice.

Army Health Promotion

Le Bossu de Notre-Dame

“Le Bossu de Notre-Dame” families card game published by Ducale (France Cartes), c.1998.

Le Bossu de Notre-Dame

Nana Poker

Every card carries a different cartoon image in the Manga style, expressing moods and emotions.

Nana Poker

Hello Kitty

Waddington’s “Hello Kitty” themed deck produced in 2009.

Hello Kitty

Czech Patience Cards

Patience size playing cards published by Obchodni Tiskarny of Prague, under the brand “Casino”, with cartoon courts in the style of wood engravings.

Czech Patience Cards

Jungle Book

Jungle Book by Pepys games, inspired by Walt Disney, 1967

Jungle Book

Miniature Disney deck

Mickey Mouse card game is part of a promotion for Rübezahl Schokoladen GmbH (Germany).

Miniature Disney deck

Wallace & Gromit

Wallace & Gromit playing cards published by Marks & Spencer, 2009.

Wallace & Gromit

Mr. Men™

Mr. Men™ & Little Miss™ playing cards by Roger Hargreaves

Mr. Men™

Silly Symphony

“Silly Symphonies” or “Mickey Mouse Snap” manufactured by Chad Valley Co. Ltd, 1930s.

Silly Symphony