The World of Playing Cards Logo

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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printing

8 Articles

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes

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

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes

Fleet Street

“Fleet Street” card game published by Chad Valley Games, c.1923.

Fleet Street

The 52 Club

The London College of Printing '52 Club' Designers and Artists playing cards, 1984.

The 52 Club

Manufacture of Playing Cards

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

Manufacture of Playing Cards

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

Letterpress

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

Letterpress