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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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tobacco

30 Articles

Portraits of a Lady

Portraits of a Lady by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Portraits of a Lady

Cigar Bands

A collection of 24 cigar bands with miniature playing cards.

Cigar Bands

Naipes Parliament por Caloi

Carlos Loiseau, better known as ‘Caloi’, was a cartoonist whose designs for Parliament Cigarettes were first published in the early 1970s.

Naipes Parliament por Caloi

Bucktrout & Co. Ltd

Half-sized cigarette playing cards published by Bucktrout & Co., Ltd (Guernsey) c.1930.

Bucktrout & Co. Ltd

Wills 200th Anniversary

Double pack commemorating the 200th anniversary of W.D & H.O. Wills Ltd, 1786 - 1986.

Wills 200th Anniversary

British American Tobacco patience

Patience deck for British American Tobacco printed by Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland c.1940

British American Tobacco patience

Tobacco advertising

Advertising decks made in Belgium by A. Van Genechten, 1960s.

Tobacco advertising

Permalon Ltd

Miniature playing cards advertising "Perma" smoking-related products featuring the "Perma Girl" on the backs and Joker.

Permalon Ltd

Wills Scheme

The W.D & H.O. Wills Playing Card promotion of the early 1930s

Wills Scheme

John Player Special

John Player Special non-standard playing cards created by the illustrator Nick Price, 1987

John Player Special

Wills’s Happy Families game

Wills’s “Happy Families” cards were issued by the Imperial Tobacco Company (of Great Britain and Ireland) Limited in around 1930.

Wills’s Happy Families game

De Reszke Cigarettes “What the Stars Say”

De Reszke Cigarettes “What the Stars Say” astrology cards issued by J. Milhoff & Co., 1934.

De Reszke Cigarettes “What the Stars Say”

Heber Mardon (1840- 1925)

Heber Mardon was born in 1840. With his father he founded the firm of Mardon and Son which, in 1863, became Mardon, Son & Hall.

Heber Mardon (1840- 1925)

Carreras Fortune Telling Cards

Carreras Fortune Telling Cards, 1926

Carreras Fortune Telling Cards

Standard Genoese

Van Genechten manufactured playing cards in various styles, including specially customised versions for commercial clients wishing to advertise their own brands on the cards.

Standard Genoese

Cía Chilena de Tabacos

Anglo-American style pack issued on behalf of the Cía Chilena de Tabacos, c.1930

Cía Chilena de Tabacos

Carreras Ltd Playing Cards and Dominoes, 1929

Carreras Ltd miniature playing cards and dominoes, 1929

Carreras Ltd Playing Cards and Dominoes, 1929

Cigarette Cards and other ephemera

Cigarette Cards, Trade Cards, Miniature Playing Cards and other ephemera.

Cigarette Cards and other ephemera

Mardon, Son & Hall of Bristol, branch of the Imperial Tobacco Company

A division of Imperial Tobacco, they appear to have made cards almost exclusively for the cigarette token market, which flourished during the 1930s.

Mardon, Son & Hall of Bristol, branch of the Imperial Tobacco Company

Industria Gráfica Pesout

Coimexpor Spanish-suited playing cards by Industria Gráfica Pesout, S.A., Buenos Aires, Argentina, c.2008.

Industria Gráfica Pesout

Cia Chilena de Tabacos

Spanish style pack issued on behalf of the Cía Chilena de Tabacos, c.1932

Cia Chilena de Tabacos

Carreras Ltd Tobacco Advertising

Carreras issued a number of advertising packs, cigarette and trade cards, miniature packs, etc during the 1920s and 30s.

Carreras Ltd Tobacco Advertising

Litografía Fabbri, Lima, Peru, c.1900-20

Litografía Fabbri, Lima, Peru, c.1900-20, printers of cigarette insert cards for tobacco companies.

Litografía Fabbri, Lima, Peru, c.1900-20

Animals Quartet printed for Cigarrillos El Figaro, Peru

Animals Quartet game printed for Cigarrillos El Figaro, Peru, early 1900s.

Animals Quartet printed for Cigarrillos El Figaro, Peru

Biermans for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru

Standard Genoese pattern with French indices made by Biermans for Cigarrillo Holiday and the Estanco de Naipes del Perú.

Biermans for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru

Roldan Tobacco Cards, Peru

Tobacco cards with miniature playing cards inset into top corners, printed by Litografía y Tipografía Fabbri Hermanos, for Roldan y Cia Tobacco, Lima, c.1895.

Roldan Tobacco Cards, Peru

Cigarrillos Compadre, Peru, early 1900s

Spanish-suited playing cards for Cigarrillos Compadre, Peru, early 1900s

Cigarrillos Compadre, Peru, early 1900s