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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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Osram Advertising Playing Cards

The court cards feature double-ended light-bulb people (the Kings are repeated in each suit) and the numeral cards have vignettes at each end illustrating how Osram light bulbs lighten the darkness.

Osram Advertising Playing Cards

Naipes Inca by C. Della Penna S.A., 1970s

Naipes Inca Spanish-suited playing cards manufactured by C. Della Penna S.A., Buenos Aires, c.1970-78.

Naipes Inca by C. Della Penna S.A., 1970s