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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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scandinavia

32 Articles

Souvenir of Norway

Souvenir of Norway deck.

Souvenir of Norway

Kalevala

Kalevala playing cards by Sunish Chabba and Ishan Trivedi inspired by ancient Finnish mythology.

Kalevala

Views from Norway

“54 Views from Norway” souvenir playing cards published by Normanns Kunstforlag A/S, c.1990s.

Views from Norway

Warburg’s Danske

Warburg’s Danske playing cards published by Aktieselskabet Emil Jensen, København, 1944.

Warburg’s Danske

Warburg’s Skandinaviske Bridge Kort

“Warburg’s Skandinaviske Bridge Kort” published by Aktieselskabet Emil Jensen, København, c.1935.

Warburg’s Skandinaviske Bridge Kort

VR-VISA

VR-VISA playing cards published by VR Group, the state-owned railway company in Finland.

VR-VISA

Löjliga Spel Kort

Facsimile edition of “Löjliga Spel Kort” (1825) illustrated playing cards from Sweden, showing scenes from Fredman‘s Epistles and Songs

Löjliga Spel Kort

Standard Handa Pattern

Standard Danish playing cards made by Handa, Copenhagen.

Standard Handa Pattern

Öbergs ‘Svenska Lloyd’

‘Svenska Lloyd’ shipping company playing cards published by J.O. Öberg & Son, Eskilstuna, c.1955.

Öbergs ‘Svenska Lloyd’

Åkerlund & Rausing

Swedish style pack by Åkerlund & Rausing, Stockholm, 1931-1937

Åkerlund & Rausing

Four Centuries

“Four Centuries” playing cards by Esselte Öbergs with court cards depicted as caricatures from different historical periods.

Four Centuries

Olsen Smygvänliga

Olsen Spelkort Smygvänliga - Swedish pattern made by F.X. Schmid for Olsen

Olsen Smygvänliga

Offason “Beau”

Offason AB “Beau” playing cards designed by Åke Arenhill from Sweden, c.1990.

Offason “Beau”

Kille

‘Kille’, an old Swedish card game

Kille

Vasa Dynasty

The House of Vasa was the royal house of Sweden 1523–1654 and subsequent rulers have emphasized their Vasa descent through a female line

Vasa Dynasty

De la Rue for export

Non-standard playing cards produced by De la Rue & Co. (London), c.1930s

De la Rue for export

Salakuljettaja Smugglaren

Salakuljettaja Smugglaren is the Scandinavian version of Pepys’ “Contraband” published by Förlag Bildkonst, 1958.

Salakuljettaja Smugglaren

P. Steinmann

Single-figure provincial Paris pattern cards with traditional names on the courts manufactured in Copenhagen by P. Steinmann, c.1820.

P. Steinmann

Gnav

cards from an early 'Gnav' game made by C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen c.1860

Gnav

C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen 1852-85

C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen 1852-85

C.L.Keiblinger, Copenhagen 1852-85

L. P. Holmblad, c.1845

Holmblad ordered his earlier designs to be re-drawn and updated. Comparison of packs from this era show instances where one figure is replaced by another more imposing version.

L. P. Holmblad, c.1845

Warburg Luxus Bridgekort

“Luxus Bridgekort” was specially designed by Barbara MacDonald in a vibrant Art Deco style for Warburg of Denmark in c.1930, and printed by Universal Playing Card Co. Ltd (England).

Warburg Luxus Bridgekort

Einar Nerman Patience

Einar Nerman (1888–1983) was a talented Swedish artist born in Norrköping who designed playing cards during the 1920s.

Einar Nerman Patience

Holmblads No. 121

Holmblads No. 121 made by John Waddington, England, for Denmark

Holmblads No. 121

Playing cards from Finland

Playing cards from Finland. Finnish cards have a relatively short history, presumably because the country only finally broke loose from Russian influence in 1920.

Playing cards from Finland

Standard Swedish Pattern

Standard Swedish type playing cards manufactured by J.O. Öberg & Son, Eskilstuna, 1929.

Standard Swedish Pattern

‘501’ playing cards by Alf Cooke

“Five 'o One” playing cards, a version of the Dondorf Rhineland pattern, manufactured by Universal Playing Card Co. Ltd for export to Scandinavia.

‘501’ playing cards by Alf Cooke

Universe No.100 playing cards

Universe No.100 playing cards made by The Universal Playing Card Co. Ltd, Leeds, for Scandinavian countries.

Universe No.100 playing cards

Danbrit

Danbrit playing cards by Alf Cooke, 1930s

Danbrit