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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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illuminated

4 Articles

I.M.F. Engraved Cards

Playing cards had been made as precious objects for wealthy clients since the late 14th century. They were made to look at, admire and to keep in curiosity cabinets, or perhaps to entertain ladies or educate children rather than to play with.

I.M.F. Engraved Cards

Illuminated Playing Cards, c.1865

Facsimile edition of Andrew Dougherty's Illuminated deck, c.1865, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc., and described as 'Civil War Illuminated Poker Deck'

Illuminated Playing Cards, c.1865

El Barco

El Barco playing cards designed by E. Pastor, Valencia, Spain, c.1895

El Barco