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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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Charles Bartlet

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Charles Bartlet

Elaborate court cards on a deck by Charles Bartlet, Philadelphia, (who was in fact Samuel Hart) c.1845-60. The pip cards are double-ended. The date may be somewhere between c.1845-65.

Charles Bartlet