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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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Rouen

3 Articles

Origins

Rick Davidson's “Origins” playing cards is an inspired, present-day re-design of the standard Anglo-American deck

Origins

Pierre Marechal

Rouen became an important centre for card-making whose influence extended far afield. Cards from Rouen are significant because they became the model from which our English pack subsequently evolved.

Pierre Marechal

Re-creation of Pierre Marechal playing-cards

English printers used Rouen court cards as inspiration for their own cruder, more stylized decks. The style of the costumes on English playing cards is late medieval, being descended from the Rouen models.

Re-creation of Pierre Marechal playing-cards