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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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Lo Scarabeo

12 Articles

Portraits of a Lady

Portraits of a Lady by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Portraits of a Lady

Alice

Alice with artwork by Jesús Blasco, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Alice

Liberty

Liberty playing cards designed by Antonella Castelli, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Liberty

Il Circo

Il Circo illustrated by Jules Garnier, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2004.

Il Circo

William Tell

Facsimile of Swiss William Tell deck from c.1870 published by Lo Scarabeo.

William Tell

Martin Mystère

Martin Mystère based on the comic book by Alfredo Castelli. The cards were designed by Giancarlo Alessandrini.

Martin Mystère

Musikalisches Kartenspiel

Facsimile of Dondorf’s “Musikalisches Kartenspiel” (c.1862) published by Lo Scarabeo, 2004

Musikalisches Kartenspiel

Pinocchio

Pinocchio fairy tale playing cards illustrated by Iassen Ghiuselev for Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Pinocchio

Jeu de la Géographie

“Jeu de Géographie” educational playing cards etched by Stefano Della Bella (1610-1664) and published by Henry le Gras, c.1644.

Jeu de la Géographie

History of Flight

“History of Aviation” playing cards published by Lo Scarabeo (2003) in which every card carries a painting representing an aspect of the history of powered flight.

History of Flight

The Book of Trades by Jost Amman, 1588

The Book of Trades by the prolific German Renaissance artist Jost Amman (1539-91). Suits are books, printers' pads, wine-pots and drinking cups.

The Book of Trades by Jost Amman, 1588