The World of Playing Cards Logo

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:

Dragons

17 Articles

Dragon Fight

Dragon Fight card game by Playmobil ®, 2014.

Dragon Fight

Dragons Playing Cards by Robert Burke

A gorgeous deck of cards featuring the dragon art of Kerem Beyit and printed by the United States Playing Card Company.

Dragons Playing Cards by Robert Burke

Flutter Met St George

‘St George and the Dragon’ game made by Chad Valley for Flutter Met Games, 1930s.

Flutter Met St George

Earth Dragons and Other Rare Creatures

Jessica Feinberg, mostly known for her unique mythic paintings of nature, dragons, is a creator the Earth D​ragons and Other Rare Creatures playing cards.

Earth Dragons and Other Rare Creatures

Portuguese pattern

19th century Portuguese pattern, re-printed from original woodblocks.

Portuguese pattern

Malta

The so-called ‘Dragon Cards’, with winged monsters on the four Aces, are an enigmatic aspect of early playing card history.

Malta

27: Cards at Strangers’ Hall, Norwich

There is a very interesting collection of playing cards held at the Strangers' Hall Museum in Norwich.

27: Cards at Strangers’ Hall, Norwich

Francisco Flores

Playing cards in this style have been discovered in various parts of the world, suggesting that they were exported or carried there by early explorers or merchants.

Francisco Flores

Portuguese Type Playing Cards made in Belgium

Portuguese type pack with ‘dragon’ aces made in Belgium by Mesmaekers Frères, Turnhout, c.1875-1900

Portuguese Type Playing Cards made in Belgium

Portuguese Type Cards made in Belgium

Portuguese Type Playing Cards made in Belgium, c.1878.

Portuguese Type Cards made in Belgium

Early Spanish/Portuguese type

Fragment of a sheet of archaic Spanish-suited 'Dragon' playing cards found during restoration of a house in Antwerp built between 1559 and 1574

Early Spanish/Portuguese type

Portuguese Type Playing Cards c.1860

10 cards from a pack of later Portuguese ‘Dragon’ type cards from c.1860, with the Maid of batons about to club a dog.

Portuguese Type Playing Cards c.1860

Portuguese Playing Cards

The Real Fábrica de Cartas de Jogar was founded in 1769, by Royal Charter of King José, under the master craftsman Lorenzo Solezio, brother of Félix Solesio who ran the Spanish Real Fábrica at Macharaviaya.

Portuguese Playing Cards

16th century cards discovered in Peru

Fragments of playing cards and 2 dice were unearthed in a 16th century rubbish tip adjacent to a Spanish house in the lower Rimac Valley in Peru, providing evidence of games played by early Spanish settlers.

16th century cards discovered in Peru

Unsun Karuta

Unsun Karuta うんすんかるた Japan c.1780.

Unsun Karuta

Tensho Mekuri - Japan

Tensho Mekuri cards hand-made by Patricia Kirk, 2003

Tensho Mekuri - Japan

Japanese Playing Cards

Japanese playing cards include: 'Awase' or 'matching pairs' cards and Portuguese or Spanish-derived 'Dragon' type cards.

Japanese Playing Cards