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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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facsimile

40 Articles

La Sibylle des Salons

La Sibylle des Salons facsimile of 19th century deck published by J M Simon, 1979.

La Sibylle des Salons

William Tell

Facsimile of Swiss William Tell deck from c.1870 published by Lo Scarabeo.

William Tell

“Deck with French suits”

A facsimile of an early 19th century French-suited deck from the collection of F.X. Schmid.

“Deck with French suits”

Le Destin Antique

Le Jeu du Destin Antique, originally published by Grimaud in XIX c., republished many times since...

Le Destin Antique

Caleb Bartlett

Caleb Bartlett patriotic deck (reproduction), around 1835-40.

Caleb Bartlett

Heraldic playing cards

Reproduction of Richard Blome’s Heraldic playing cards, 1684, presented to lady guests at WCMPC Summer Meeting in 1888.

Heraldic playing cards

Tell Wilmoś

Facsimile of ‘Wilhelm Tell’ Hungarian deck by Salamon Antal, Keczkemét, 1860.

Tell Wilmoś

Le Jeu de la Guerre

Facsimile of “Le Jeu de la Guerre” designed by Gilles de la Boissière in 1698.

Le Jeu de la Guerre

On The Cards

A Motley Pack - transformation playing cards & ‘On The Cards’ book facsimile published by Sunish Chabba, 2019.

On The Cards

Tyrolean Playing Cards

Facsimile of patriotic 1878 Tyrolean playing cards published by Piatnik in 1992.

Tyrolean Playing Cards

Musikalisches Kartenspiel

Facsimile of Dondorf’s “Musikalisches Kartenspiel” (c.1862) published by Lo Scarabeo, 2004

Musikalisches Kartenspiel

Johannes Müller c.1840

Facsimile edition of Swiss suited deck first published by Johannes Müller in c.1840.

Johannes Müller c.1840

Jeu de la Géographie

“Jeu de Géographie” educational playing cards etched by Stefano Della Bella (1610-1664) and published by Henry le Gras, c.1644.

Jeu de la Géographie

Rois de France

Cartes des Rois de France (1644) facsimile edition by Edizioni del Solleone, 1986.

Rois de France

Lapin Brothers

Reprint of Lapin’s Historical Belarusian playing cards.

Lapin Brothers

Jeu des Quatre Saisons de l’An II

“Jeu des Quatre Saisons de l’An II” facsimile of French Revolution deck originally published by J. B. Debeine (Reims) 1793.

Jeu des Quatre Saisons de l’An II

Antike Götter

“Antike Götter” - facsimile of antique playing cards originally manufactured by C. A. Müller, Berlin, 1830.

Antike Götter

Dames de France

“Dames de France” published by J-M Simon based on originals by Armand Gustave Houbigant, Paris, c.1817

Dames de France

I. Hardy facsimile

Facsimile edition of 19th century I. Hardy Exportation deck complete with reproduction tax wrapper, c.1990s.

I. Hardy facsimile

Jeu de l’an 2

“Jeu de l’an 2” by Grimaud is a facsimile of French Revolutionary cards first published by Veuve Mouton in c.1793

Jeu de l’an 2

Jeu Romantique de Nanteuil

“Jeu Romantique de Nanteuil” published by Éditions Dusserre, Paris, based on originals published in 1838.

Jeu Romantique de Nanteuil

Cartes de Luxe (1877) facsimile

‘Cartes de Luxe’ first published by Biermans in 1877 was reproduced in facsimile by Amstel Beer in c.1980.

Cartes de Luxe (1877) facsimile

Tarocco Neoclassico

Gumppenberg published several new decks by artists or engravers of the day. The designs are clear and well-engraved, in the style of the revival of antiquity, preserving the symbolic intensity of the Tarot.

Tarocco Neoclassico

Soldaten Tarock

Piatnik was known for their magnificent quality of chromo-lithographic printing, and this facsimile, or reprint, of “Soldaten Tarock No. 217” is virtually as magnificent as the original.

Soldaten Tarock

David James Binns

Hand-made “Tudor Playing Cards” by David James Binns, age 12.

David James Binns

Joan Barbot

Joan Barbot, San Sebastian c.1765-1810.

Joan Barbot

Antique Swiss Playing Cards, c.1530

The Swiss national suit system of shields, acorns, hawkbells and flowers originated sometime during the fifteenth century.

Antique Swiss Playing Cards, c.1530

The Beggars’ Opera

The Beggars’ Opera Playing Cards were first published in 1728. The cards carry the words and music of the songs from Gay’s opera, which was intended as a parody of current Italian works. The music was taken from many popular tunes of the day.

The Beggars’ Opera

South Sea Bubble

The South Sea Bubble Playing Cards were first published in London by Thomas Bowles in 1720. The cards bear satirical portrayals of the speculators involved in the South Sea Bubble of 1720, providing a unique contemporary record of the feverish atmosphere of the time, as well as the fashions of dress.

South Sea Bubble

Knavery of the Rump, 1679

The Knavery of the Rump playing cards, first published in 1679, are a satirical portrayal of Oliver Cromwell's Government. The illustrations on the cards provide a rare visual impression of the times.

Knavery of the Rump, 1679

Cries of London

The cards were printed from copper plates, with the red suit symbols being applied later by stencil. The court cards contain interesting miniature versions of the standard full-length figures used on playing cards at the time

Cries of London

Transformation Playing Cards, 1811

Transformation playing cards, first published in 1811, in which each card bears a picture in which the suit marks are concealed within the design. This artistic exercise began as an 18th century parlour game and pastime.

Transformation Playing Cards, 1811

Marlborough’s Victories

Marlborough’s Victories playing cards, first published in 1707, depict Marlborough's campaigns and the personalities involved.

Marlborough’s Victories

The Book of Trades by Jost Amman, 1588

The Book of Trades by the prolific German Renaissance artist Jost Amman (1539-91). Suits are books, printers' pads, wine-pots and drinking cups.

The Book of Trades by Jost Amman, 1588

Re-creation of Pierre Marechal playing-cards

English printers used Rouen court cards as inspiration for their own cruder, more stylized decks. The style of the costumes on English playing cards is late medieval, being descended from the Rouen models.

Re-creation of Pierre Marechal playing-cards