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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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Phelippe Ayet

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Phelippe Ayet, c.1574

Archaic, late medieval Spanish-suited playing cards printed by Phelippe Ayet, c.1574.

Phelippe Ayet, c.1574

Phelippe Ayet, 1574

49 assorted cards were found hidden in the lintel of a doorway, in an old building in Toledo, during demolition, and are now preserved in the the Museo de Santa Cruz de Toledo.

Phelippe Ayet, 1574