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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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nationalism

12 Articles

William Tell

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

William Tell

National Misfitz

National Misfitz published by C.W. Faulkner & Co c.1900.

National Misfitz

Churchill in WW2

Churchill ‘Walking with Destiny’ playing cards published by the Imperial War Museum.

Churchill in WW2

Gaucho Naipes

‘Gaucho’ Spanish-suited deck, anonymous manufacturer, made in Argentina, 2001.

Gaucho Naipes

Czech Hussite Deck

Czech “Hussite” Pack engraved by Karel Hoffmann and first printed by Jan Ritter in 1895.

Czech Hussite Deck

Greek Playing Cards

Greek Playing Cards.

Greek Playing Cards

Czech Nationalistic playing cards

During the 19th century growing nationalist sentiment led to a rejection of Austro-Hungarian culture in favour of that of the native Czech people. One outcome from this movement was a ‘Nationalistic’ pack of playing cards painted by Emanuel Neumann.

Czech Nationalistic playing cards