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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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Manufacturing Processes

17 Articles

Traditionally cardmakers worked in guilds with long apprenticeships under master craftsmen.

Manufacture of Playing Cards

Traditionally cardmakers worked in guilds with long apprenticeships under master craftsmen.

Manufacture of Playing Cards

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes illustrated by Ludwig Winkler, published by Verlag für Lehrmittel Pößneck.

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes

41: A Guide to Dating Playing Cards

Dating is a particularly tricky but very interesting problem to tackle and there are many pitfalls.

41: A Guide to Dating Playing Cards

33: Functional Changes to Playing Cards

The emphasis throughout my collecting has been on the design of the courts cards, and it should be pointed out that there have been some functional changes to cards, which have affected the traditional designs, especially in the 19th century.

33: Functional Changes to Playing Cards

28: How to Analyze and Differentiate Playing Card Plates (De La Rue, Waddington and the Berlin pattern [französisches Bild])

My interest in postage stamp variants led me to apply the same principles to playing cards.

28: How to Analyze and Differentiate Playing Card Plates (De La Rue, Waddington and the Berlin pattern [französisches Bild])

14: Back Designs

A few examples of the many interesting back designs.

14: Back Designs

Rotxotxo Workshop Inventories

Rotxotxo Workshop Inventories, Barcelona, 1660-1800.

Rotxotxo Workshop Inventories

Manufacture of Playing Cards

Traditionally cardmakers worked in guilds with long apprenticeships under master craftsmen.

Manufacture of Playing Cards

Amos Whitney Inventory

Amos Whitney Factory Inventory. What it was like inside an 18th century playing card factory...

Amos Whitney Inventory

Chromolithography

Colour lithography was invented in 1798 by a Bavarian actor and playwright named Alois Senefelder (1771-1834). It is based on the principle that oil and water do not mix.

Chromolithography

Printing of Playing Cards: Stencilling

Printing of Playing Cards :: Stencilling can usually be detected by observing the outlines of the coloured areas which are often irregular with brush strokes discernible in the coloured areas.

Printing of Playing Cards: Stencilling

Paper and Cardboard

The manufacture of the pasteboard used for playing cards contains a number of interesting processes including mingling, pasting and drying.

Paper and Cardboard

Letterpress

Some notes on the manufacture of playing cards taken from Thomas De la Rue's patent, 1831.

Letterpress

Pneumatic Playing Cards

The surface of the cards was slightly grooved by being rolled on prepared plates, so that there were little pockets of air between each card, which prevented them sticking together.

Pneumatic Playing Cards

Regarding the designs of playing cards

The quality of playing card designs often deteriorates with time…

Regarding the designs of playing cards