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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.

Browsing keyword:

courts

19 Articles

71: Woodblock and stencil: the hearts

A presentation of the main characteristics of the wood-block courts of the heart suit.

71: Woodblock and stencil: the hearts

68: Playing cards in glass

My wife and I have recently commissioned a unique pair of stained glass windows for our home.

68: Playing cards in glass

63: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 1

A great many regional patterns were exported from France and subsequently copied elsewhere. Some of them became local standards in their own right.

63: The descendants of the French regional patterns: 1

62: French regional patterns: the queens and jacks

Continuing our look at the figures from the regional patterns of France.

62: French regional patterns: the queens and jacks

Modern English Court

Modern English court style by Games & Print Services Limited, c.1997.

Modern English Court

Nine Lives Playing Cards

Nine Lives Playing Cards designed by Annette Abolins, 2016

Nine Lives Playing Cards

51: Some modern variation

A brief survey of some of the current variation in the standard English pattern.

51: Some modern variation

49: De La Rue in detail

A detailed presentation of the variants of De La Rue's standard cards.

49: De La Rue in detail

Sands & McDougall Court Cards

Sands & McDougall Court Cards

Sands & McDougall Court Cards

33: Functional Changes to Playing Cards

The emphasis throughout my collecting has been on the design of the courts cards, and it should be pointed out that there have been some functional changes to cards, which have affected the traditional designs, especially in the 19th century.

33: Functional Changes to Playing Cards

Rowley & Co - “Monarchs of Europe”

In around 1775 Rowley & Co attempted to reform the traditional court cards to portraits of the kings and queens of England, France, Spain and Russia.

Rowley & Co - “Monarchs of Europe”

Carnival Playing Cards, 1925

The Carnival Playing Card deck designed by Harry D. Wallace (1892-1977) and first published in 1925.

Carnival Playing Cards, 1925

20: English Card-Makers 1761-1905

An initial survey of 19th century playing-card production. More detailed information appears on other pages.

20: English Card-Makers 1761-1905

Dondorf Tarot Court Cards

Dondorf Tarot Court Cards.

Dondorf Tarot Court Cards

6: Some Non-Standard Cards

I only collect the English standard, but I thought it would be a good idea to add some different types of card from time to time.

6: Some Non-Standard Cards

Traditional English Court

Games & Print Services Ltd traditional English courts.

Traditional English Court

History of Court Cards

The court cards in English packs of playing cards derive from models produced by Pierre Marechal in Rouen around 1565. A pack of such cards is preserved in the museum at Rouen.

History of Court Cards

Pippoglyph

Pippoglyph Playing Cards by Ben Crenshaw © 2004

Pippoglyph