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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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Art & Design

261 Articles

The design of a pack of playing cards involves a balance between utilitarian constraints and artistic possibilities.

Müller: Richelieu

This deck is named after Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu (1585-1642), a French Roman Catholic Clergyman and statesman, Chief Adviser to King Louis XIII, noted for the authoritarian measures he employed to maintain power.

Müller: Richelieu

Schweizer Trachten

Schweizer Trachten No.174 (Costumes Suisses) by Dondorf.

Schweizer Trachten

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Alice

Alice with artwork by Jesús Blasco, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Alice

Liberty

Liberty playing cards designed by Antonella Castelli, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Liberty

Baracca & Burattini

Baracca & Burattini puppetry deck printed by Dal Negro, 1998.

Baracca & Burattini

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes deck with caricatures by Jeff Decker published by Gemaco Playing Card Co. 1989

Sherlock Holmes

Martin Mystère

Martin Mystère based on the comic book by Alfredo Castelli. The cards were designed by Giancarlo Alessandrini.

Martin Mystère

Seefahrers II

‘Seefahrers’ maritime deck designed by Klaus Ensikat for Deutsche Seereederei Rostock, GDR.

Seefahrers II

Sanyo Ukiyo-E

Ukiyo-E deck by Nintendo for Sanyo Enterprise Co.

Sanyo Ukiyo-E

Year of the Child

Year of the Child commemorative deck designed by Jhan Paulussen, 1979.

Year of the Child

Maya Deck

The Maya Deck produced by Stancraft for Hoyle, 1976.

Maya Deck

Einhorn

‘Einhorn’ designed by Richard König, c.1986.

Einhorn

Bicycle Steampunk

Bicycle Steampunk playing cards with Gothic artwork by Anne Stokes, 2015.

Bicycle Steampunk

New Figures by A. I. Charlemagne, 1862

“Renaissance” playing card designs by A I Charlemagne, 1862.

New Figures by A. I. Charlemagne, 1862

Bicycle Knights

Bicycle Knights playing cards designed by Sam Hayles in 2018.

Bicycle Knights

Friendly Felines

‘Friendly Felines’ playing cards designed by Azured Ox, 2017.

Friendly Felines

Gods of Egypt

Gods of Egypt playing cards dedicated to the culture of Ancient Egypt.

Gods of Egypt

Bicycle 808 Bourbon

Bicycle 808 Bourbon themed deck by US Playing Card Company 2017.

Bicycle 808 Bourbon

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland playing cards designed by Sasha Dounaevski, 2018.

Alice in Wonderland

Age of Dragons

Age of Dragons by Anne Stokes, 2017.

Age of Dragons

Anne Stokes Collection

Anne Stokes Collection playing cards, 2010.

Anne Stokes Collection

The Deck of Cards

The Deck of Cards by Andrew Jones Art, 1979.

The Deck of Cards

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

Chinese Jokers

Chinese playing card makers have probably produced the widest variety of jokers of any single part of the world.

Chinese Jokers

Ken McCarthy

An unknown deck by Ken McCarthy, c.2018.

Ken McCarthy

Les Grandes Figures de L’Histoire Bretonne

Les Grandes Figures de L’Histoire Bretonne

Les Grandes Figures de L’Histoire Bretonne

Kalevala

Kalevala playing cards by Sunish Chabba and Ishan Trivedi inspired by ancient Finnish mythology.

Kalevala

Hearts of London

Hearts of London for British Heart Foundation 2009.

Hearts of London

Roman Empire

Roman Empire playing cards designed by G. Wyatt for Green Board Game Co Ltd., 2011.

Roman Empire

Bharata Playing Cards

Bharata Playing Cards - Series 2, based on Indian folk art, published by Sunish Chabba, 2018.

Bharata Playing Cards

Salon-Karte No.66

Salon-Karte No.66 designed by Walter Krauss, c.1970

Salon-Karte No.66

Leipzig Exhibition Skat, 1897

“Leipziger Skat-Karte” depicting scenes from the Leipzig Industry and Trade Exhibition designed by Arthur Lewin, 1897.

Leipzig Exhibition Skat, 1897

Pinocchio

Pinocchio fairy tale playing cards illustrated by Iassen Ghiuselev for Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Pinocchio

Erlenmeyer City Sights

Erlenmeyer City Sights hand-illustrated playing cards by Stephanie Gray, 2015.

Erlenmeyer City Sights

Cosmopolitan № 2121 playing cards

“Cosmopolitan” № 2121 playing cards designed by Russian artist Valeri Mishin, 1996

Cosmopolitan № 2121 playing cards

Estate Playing Cards

Estate Playing Cards with five suits designed by Keith Wilson

Estate Playing Cards

Fashion Face Off

“Fashion Face Off” card game illustrated by Erin Petson for Laurence King Publishing, c.2011.

Fashion Face Off

Intecta Interior Design

Intecta playing cards designed by Paul Reissmüller, 1982.

Intecta Interior Design

Hannelore Heise: “Essay” & “Gracia”

Two charming designs by Hannelore Heise from Germany.

Hannelore Heise: “Essay” & “Gracia”

Berliner Originale

“Berliner Originale” designed by Manfred Bofinger, 1986.

Berliner Originale

Vizaĝo playing cards

Vizaĝo playing cards created by Annette Abolins, 2017.

Vizaĝo playing cards

Boulogne-sur-Mer Chamber of Commerce

Boulogne-sur-Mer Chamber of Commerce & Industry playing cards illustrated by James Hodges, c.1974.

Boulogne-sur-Mer Chamber of Commerce

Karl Gerich No.22: “Rouennais”

Karl Gerich’s hand-made design No.22: “Rouennais”, Victoria P.C.C, Bath (UK), 1990.

Karl Gerich No.22: “Rouennais”

Loewe

Deck designed by J. L. Picardo for Loewe, 1959.

Loewe

Alcatel

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

Alcatel