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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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Alf Cooke / Universal

20 Articles

Alf Cooke was an important producer of playing cards and card games in the UK during the period 1920-1970.

Alf Cooke’s Playing Cards

Alf Cooke was an important producer of playing cards and card games in the UK during the period 1920-1970.

Alf Cooke’s Playing Cards

Conjuring Decks

Conjuring Decks by Universal Playing Card Co (Alf Cooke) and others...

Conjuring Decks

Non-Revoke

Non-Revoke Playing Cards manufactured by Universal Playing Card Co Ltd for Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games, c.1930.

Non-Revoke

Famo

Famo, the historical card game, 1939.

Famo

Zodiac Club

‘Zodiac Club Playing Cards’ for Pepys, c.1965-75.

Zodiac Club

British Playing Cards

British Playing Cards Ltd was the predecessor of Universal P.C.Co. and involved Alf Cooke of Leeds and Bemrose of Birmingham, and maybe one or two other printing firms.

British Playing Cards

Brighter Families

“Brighter Families” promotional card game for Cosmos Lamps (Metrovick), 1930

Brighter Families

Salakuljettaja Smugglaren

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

Salakuljettaja Smugglaren

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

7: Brands and Packs

The introduction of brands commenced during the late 19th century as a development of the old qualities: Moguls, Harrys, Highlanders and Merry Andrews.

7: Brands and Packs

Crown Point Series

The Universal Playing Card Co., Crown Point Series,

Crown Point Series

Pictorial

Pictorial Playing Cards - De Luxe - Fabric Finish - manufactured by Alf Cooke Limited (Universal Playing Card Co.)

Pictorial

New Bond

The New Bond Fabric Finish Playing Cards, made by the Universal Playing Card Co. Ltd.

New Bond

Alf Cooke’s Playing Cards

Alf Cooke was an important producer of playing cards and card games in the UK during the period 1920-1970.

Alf Cooke’s Playing Cards

‘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

L. G. Sloan, Ltd

'Thames Side' Playing Cards manufactured by The Universal Playing Card Co., Ltd for L. G. Sloan, Ltd., 1930s.

L. G. Sloan, Ltd

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

Icelandic Chess playing cards

Innovative "Icelandic Chess" pack, designed by Tryggvi Magnússon and manufactured by Alf Cooke Ltd (Universal Playing Card Co., Leeds) in 1942.

Icelandic Chess playing cards

Romanian playing cards by Alf Cooke

Romanian playing cards, manufactured and exported by the Universal Playing Card Co., Leeds, in the 1930s.

Romanian playing cards by Alf Cooke

Danbrit

Danbrit playing cards by Alf Cooke, 1930s

Danbrit

Thomson-Leng Tarot

The Thomson-Leng Tarot Cards were issued by the publishers of women's magazines during the 1930s. The cards are loosely based upon the Rider-Waite tarot.

Thomson-Leng Tarot