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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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humour

65 Articles

Fortune-Telling Cards

Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.

Fortune-Telling Cards

Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards by Josh. Reynolds & Sons, circa 1850.

Comic Question & Answer cards

Black Peter

Black Peter card game designed by Willy Mayrl for Piatnik.

Black Peter

Werbung die Sticht

“Werbung die Sticht” deck with artwork by Fritz Bünzli to promote advertising on playing cards by AG Müller 1982.

Werbung die Sticht

Baracca & Burattini

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

Baracca & Burattini

Crikey!

Crikey! Classic British Comics playing cards published by Bird Playing Cards, 2013.

Crikey!

Forfeits

Forfeits party card game by Merit Games, J & L Randall Ltd, c.1950.

Forfeits

Pranks & Mimics for the Party

Pranks & Mimics for the Party, 1950s.

Pranks & Mimics for the Party

Christmas Playing Cards

Christmas Playing Cards published by Novelty Playing Cards, Syracuse, New York, 1986.

Christmas Playing Cards

Loriot Rummy

Delightful comical deck designed by Loriot, the German cartoonist and comedian, 1973.

Loriot Rummy

Stationskwartetspel

Railway Stations quartet game illustrated by Wim Dolk and published by Servex BV, Utrecht, 1975.

Stationskwartetspel

Hungarian Drinking Skat

Hungarian Drinking Skat, c.2004.

Hungarian Drinking Skat

One Penny Games

One Penny Card Games, 1920s.

One Penny Games

One Penny Games 2

One Penny Card Games, 1900-1910, mostly anonymous 'Snap' games and made in Germany.

One Penny Games 2

Ups & Downs

Ups and Downs humorous card game published in UK by A. N. Myers, c.1885.

Ups & Downs

Inspector

Inspector card game published by W F Jackson & Sons, 1940s.

Inspector

Biff! Bang!! Wallop!!!

Biff! Bang!! Wallop!!! family card game published by H.P. Gibson & Sons Ltd, 1939.

Biff! Bang!! Wallop!!!

Capilettor

Capilettor cartoon playing cards published by VASS, Leinfelden, 1978.

Capilettor

Who’s Who

Who’s Who or Food for Thought, a wartime card game, c.1939.

Who’s Who

101 Dalmatas

101 Dalmatas by Naipes Fournier, 1995,

101 Dalmatas

Schwarzer Peter mit Hundebildern

Humorous dog-themed Black Peter game illustrated by Willy Mayrl, c.1960.

Schwarzer Peter mit Hundebildern

Klutz Card Deck

Klutz Card Deck with comic courts.

Klutz Card Deck

Bicycle Emotions

Bicycle Emotions playing cards with custom emotions on the courts to help you bluff at cards, 2013.

Bicycle Emotions

Hand Drawn Joker Pack

Pack of 52 hand-drawn Jokers.

Hand Drawn Joker Pack

Neues Frag˗ und Antwortspiel

Neues Frag- und Antwortspiel (new question and answer game) from Germany.

Neues Frag˗ und Antwortspiel

Cat Chaos

‘Cat Chaos Celebrity Edition’ card game by Ginger Fox Ltd., 2017.

Cat Chaos

Chicken Playing Cards

Chicken Playing Cards designed by Susan Krupp, 2017.

Chicken Playing Cards

Happy Families

Happy Families by Norvic Mill, c.1920s.

Happy Families

Punch & Judy

Punch and Judy card game published by Pepys, 1956.

Punch & Judy

World Leaders Snap

World Leaders Snap published around WW2, c.1940.

World Leaders Snap

El Tripero

Hand-drawn semi-erotic, satirical playing cards by Lautaro Fiszman ‘El Tripero’, 2002.

El Tripero

Jeu Grotesque

Jeu Grotesque was first published in France c.1800.

Jeu Grotesque

Coricidin Demilets

Coricidin Demilets pharmaceutical playing cards, 1967.

Coricidin Demilets

Illustrated Playing Cards, c.1740

Illustrated playing cards featuring comical engravings and rhymes about saints, c.1740.

Illustrated Playing Cards, c.1740

Storks Snap

Snap game based on characters from the film “Storks” c.2016.

Storks Snap

Schwäbisch Hall

Schwäbisch Hall building society publicity deck designed by Alex Kardas, c.1975.

Schwäbisch Hall

Bayer

Humorous pharmaceutical deck made by Antoine van Genechten for Bayer, c.1963.

Bayer

Royal Pavilion at Brighton

The Royal Pavilion, also known as the Brighton Pavilion, is an Asian-style palace built for King George IV when he was Prince of Wales.

Royal Pavilion at Brighton

Mickey Kids

Mickey Kids playing cards from Disney.

Mickey Kids

Naipes Garaycochea

Humorous playing cards designed by Carlos Garaycochea, Buenos Aires, c.2002.

Naipes Garaycochea

Fred Basset

Fred Basset card game published by Pepys in 1977 based on the cartoon strip by Alex Graham.

Fred Basset

Astérix

Cartes à Jouer ‘Astérix’ published by Ducale, 1987.

Astérix

Victory

“Victory” by Pepys Games, a splendid game with caricatures of British and German leaders, published in 1940.

Victory

Housewives Tarot

The ‘Housewives Tarot’ designed by Paul Kepple & Jude Buffum, published by Quirk Books, 2004.

Housewives Tarot

Tarot de l’An 2000

“Tarot de l’An 2000” designed by Pino Zac, 1981, satirising 20th century life.

Tarot de l’An 2000

The Odd Trick

The Odd Trick - a bit of Edwardian naughtiness.

The Odd Trick

The Perishers

The Perishers, based on the TV cartoon series, published by Pepys in 1974.

The Perishers

Army Health Promotion

Health Promotion playing cards issued by the British Army with cartoons about army life and information on where to get health advice.

Army Health Promotion

Comical Dominoes

Comical Dominoes game manufactured in Germany by J. W. Spear & Sons, early 1900s

Comical Dominoes

The Invention of Bridge

“The Invention of Bridge” - a humorous story by Larry Lefkowitz.

The Invention of Bridge

The Simpsons™

The official ‘Simpsons’ playing cards produced by Winning Moves Games, 2003.

The Simpsons™