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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.

Browsing manufacturer:

Mesmaekers Frères

14 Articles

Gustaaf Mesmaekers founded his business in 1859 in association with Louis-François Moentack, who left the business in 1862.

23: Belgian Makers: Mesmaekers

Gustaaf Mesmaekers founded his business in 1859 in association with Louis-François Moentack, who left the business in 1862.

23: Belgian Makers: Mesmaekers

Dynastie Royale de Belgique

Dynastie Royale de Belgique by Mesmaekers, 1934.

Dynastie Royale de Belgique

M/S Kronprins Harald

Souvenir of Jahre Line Ferry M/S Kronprins Harald

M/S Kronprins Harald

Domino Cards, c.1890

Domino Cards by Mesmaekers Frères, c.1890

Domino Cards, c.1890

Le Jeu des Alliés

“Le Jeu des Alliés” manufactured by Mesmaekers N.V., Turnhout, 1945.

Le Jeu des Alliés

West Flanders Souvenir

West Flanders Souvenir pack manufactured in Belgium by Mesmaekers, c.1950.

West Flanders Souvenir

Chi Chi Pai

Chinese “Chi Chi Pai” Playing Cards by Mesmaekers Frères for Far East market, c.1890.

Chi Chi Pai

L’union fait la force

“L’Union Fait la Force”, sometimes known as “the Allied pack”, has the four suits dedicated to the victorious nations of the Second World War.

L’union fait la force

23: Belgian Makers: Mesmaekers

Gustaaf Mesmaekers founded his business in 1859 in association with Louis-François Moentack, who left the business in 1862.

23: Belgian Makers: Mesmaekers

18: Belgian Cards: An Introduction

The card-makers of Turnhout were prolific in their output and inveterate copiers.

18: Belgian Cards: An Introduction

Philips Arlita

Philips 'Arlita' advertising playing cards manufactured by Etabl. Mesmaekers Frères S.A., Turnhout, Belgium, 1925.

Philips Arlita

Mesmaekers & Moentack, c.1860

The Mesmaekers firm had been established in Turnhout in 1859 by the partnership of Gustaaf Mesmaekers and Louis-François Moentack.

Mesmaekers & Moentack, c.1860

Mesmaekers Spanish Pack, c.1875

Mesmaekers Spanish Pack for export to Spanish colonies and South American countries, c.1875

Mesmaekers Spanish Pack, c.1875

Portuguese Type Playing Cards made in Belgium

Portuguese type pack with ‘dragon’ aces made in Belgium by Mesmaekers Frères, Turnhout, c.1875-1900

Portuguese Type Playing Cards made in Belgium

Naypes Finos made in Belgium

Belgian manufacturers were competing against Spanish makers. Features of the traditional Spanish designs, including many well-known brands, were imitated or plagiarised.

Naypes Finos made in Belgium