The World of Playing Cards Logo

The Art & Design of Playing Cards

Playing Card Design

The playing card calls for artistic treatment and although the constrained size imposes some limitations there is an almost bewildering wealth and variety of designs in playing cards and their tuck boxes. The serious player requires design to be unobtrusive so that aesthetic considerations remain in the background. However, with modern manufacturing technology more eye-catching designs are becoming popular as gifts, collectibles and for their attractive appearance.

Displaying 288 articles

Sort by: Publication Date Alphabetical Year of Production

Filter by Year of Production

‘El Cid’ designed by E. Pastor, Valencia, Spain, c.1875 1875

‘El Cid’ designed by E. Pastor, Valencia, Spain, c.1875

‘El Cid’ fantasy playing cards designed by E. Pastor, Valencia, Spain, c.1875

14: Back Designs

14: Back Designs

A few examples of the many interesting back designs.

1893 Worshipful Company Pack 1893

1893 Worshipful Company Pack

Worshipful Company Pack manufactured by Chas Goodall & Son, 1893.

19: 19th Century Breaks With Tradition - Unusual Versions of the Standard English Pattern

19: 19th Century Breaks With Tradition - Unusual Versions of the Standard English Pattern

The centuries-long tradition of English court cards was subject to misinterpretation and in some cases a desire for individuality. Here are some examples of breaks with that tradition.

1900 Jeu de Cartes 1979

1900 Jeu de Cartes

‘Jeu de Cartes 1900’ designed by Marie Christine Schira in the Art Nouveau or Jugendstil style, 1979.

2000Pips Transformation Pack

2000Pips Transformation Pack

2000Pips Transformation Pack

26th Yankee Division 1933

26th Yankee Division

“26th Yankee Division Playing Cards” was designed by Alban B. Butler, Jr and printed by the Press of the Woolly Whale, New York, in 1933.

28: How to Analyze and Differentiate Playing Card Plates (De La Rue, Waddington and the Berlin pattern [französisches Bild])

28: How to Analyze and Differentiate Playing Card Plates (De La Rue, Waddington and the Berlin pattern [französisches Bild])

My interest in postage stamp variants led me to apply the same principles to playing cards.

33: Functional Changes to Playing 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.

40: More on Design Copies and Fakes

40: More on Design Copies and Fakes

The issue of design copies needs further consideration and when does a copy become a fake?

51: Some modern variation

51: Some modern variation

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

59: Owen Jones (1809-74) and De La Rue

59: Owen Jones (1809-74) and De La Rue

A selection of examples of Owen Jones's work printed by De La Rue.

68: Playing cards in glass

68: Playing cards in glass

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

About Emily Arkin 2001

About Emily Arkin

Emily Arkin is an artist from Somerville, MA.

About Peter Wood

About Peter Wood

Peter Wood is a UK based artist.

About Shelley Fowles

About Shelley Fowles

Shelley Fowles was born in South Africa but has lived in the United Kingdom since 1979. She trained in Art in Brighton and London.

African Art 1994

African Art

“African Art” playing cards by John J. Beckvermit III, 1994

Age of Dragons 2017

Age of Dragons

Age of Dragons by Anne Stokes, 2017.

Alcatel

Alcatel

Alcatel playing cards published by Éditions Dusserre, c.1970s

Alfreds Scwedrevitz 1936

Alfreds Scwedrevitz

This pack was issued during wartime, in 1936, under the name “Latvian Red Cross Cards No.7”.