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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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20 Articles

Seefahrers II

‘Seefahrers’ maritime deck designed by Klaus Ensikat for Deutsche Seereederei Rostock, GDR.

Seefahrers II

M/S Kronprins Harald

Souvenir of Jahre Line Ferry M/S Kronprins Harald

M/S Kronprins Harald

Servicio de Hidrografía Naval

125th anniversary of the Argentine Naval Hydrographic Service, 2004.

Servicio de Hidrografía Naval

Convoy

“Convoy” WW2 card game published by Tree Brand c.1940, based on wartime naval convoys.

Convoy

Ship Sails

“Ship Sails” card game c.1885.

Ship Sails

Sefite card game

“Sefite” card game, Woolley & Co,. Ltd, London, c.1905

Sefite card game

Royal Dutch Mail

Elegant “Nieuw Neerlandia” pattern designed by M.A. Koekkoek and produced by Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland, c.1930s

Royal Dutch Mail

Pneumatic Series ‘F’

De la Rue Pneumatic Series ‘F’ playing cards, c.1925.

Pneumatic Series ‘F’

Historic Ships

“Historic Ships” quartet game from Czechoslovakia illustrated by Jaromír Vraštil.

Historic Ships

Öbergs ‘Svenska Lloyd’

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

Öbergs ‘Svenska Lloyd’

Shipping

A survey of modern Shipping advertising playing cards by Matt Probert

Shipping

Cartes à Jouer Héron

Promotional decks by Héron.

Cartes à Jouer Héron

Our Ship

The “New Game of Our Ship”, published by Chas Goodall & Son, London, 1896.

Our Ship

Nederlandse Speelkaarten Fabriek

Shipping line playing cards produced by Nederlandse Speelkaarten Fabriek, c.1910 offering a virtual tour of destinations to the Far East

Nederlandse Speelkaarten Fabriek

World Bridge

‘World Bridge’ produced by Modiano in Trieste, Italy, since around 1950.

World Bridge

Gdynia-America Line

Non-standard playing cards produced by Artex (Budapest) for the Gdynia-America Line, Poland, c.1958.

Gdynia-America Line

Austrian Lloyd Steamship Company

Possibly one of the most beautiful decks produced for commercial purposes, this was printed by Modiano for the Austrian Lloyd Steamship Company of Trieste in c.1895

Austrian Lloyd Steamship Company

S.S. France playing cards

A special non-standard pack of playing cards was designed by M. Marie for the maiden voyage of the transatlantic liner S.S. France in 1962.

S.S. France playing cards

Poker No. 140

Dondorf Poker-Karte No. 195, re-issued as Poker No. 140 for the "Argentina Compañia General de Navegación Sociedad Anónima", 1920s

Poker No. 140