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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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Russell, Morgan & Co

15 Articles

The distinctive Ace of Spades features the Statue of the Goddess of Freedom, based on the bronze statue designed by Thomas Crawford (1814-1857) that, since 1863, has crowned the dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Russell, Morgan & Co

The distinctive Ace of Spades features the Statue of the Goddess of Freedom, based on the bronze statue designed by Thomas Crawford (1814-1857) that, since 1863, has crowned the dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Russell, Morgan & Co

Squared Faro #366

Squared Faro #366 by Russell & Morgan Co. first issued in 1887.

Squared Faro #366

No.4 Special Whist

No.4 Special Whist (American Skat) playing cards made by the Russell & Morgan Printing Company, 1889.

No.4 Special Whist

Union Playing Card Co.

Not much is known about this early manufacturer who is reckoned to have traded between c.1870s-1890s.

Union Playing Card Co.

Tourists

Imagery of slightly eccentric tourists sightseeing in Egypt, or perhaps in the Alps, appears on the back of the box, the Ace of Spades and the Joker.

Tourists

Russell, Morgan & Co

The distinctive Ace of Spades features the Statue of the Goddess of Freedom, based on the bronze statue designed by Thomas Crawford (1814-1857) that, since 1863, has crowned the dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Russell, Morgan & Co

Capitol No.188

“Capitol No.188” was first introduced during the Russell & Morgan Printing Company era in c.1886 and carried through into the U.S.P.C.C's catalogue after 1895.

Capitol No.188

Cabinet No.707

Russell & Morgan's “Cabinet No.707” brand was first introduced in 1888.

Cabinet No.707

Navy No.303

The second edition of 1883 has slightly larger indices and a more simplified Ace of Spades showing two sailing ships.

Navy No.303

Army & Navy No.303

Over the years eight different Aces of Spades were used with this brand and the Joker was also modified several times.

Army & Navy No.303

Army No.303

The Joker is particularly persuasive, whilst the Ace of Spades has a battle scene involving artillery, with Navy ships in the distance and the statue of the goddess of Freedom in the middle.

Army No.303

Steamboat No.999

Owing to the romantic appeal of gambling on the Mississippi river many manufacturers added “Steamboats” to their range, differentiated by a number, such as 999.

Steamboat No.999

Tigers No.101

In 1881 Russell, Morgan & Company commenced playing card production by issuing six grades of cards with new, purely American names.

Tigers No.101

Bicycle No.808 - page 2

The famous 'Bicycle' playing cards were first introduced by Russell & Morgan Printing Co in 1885. They were hugely successful and became the most well-known brand in the world.

Bicycle No.808 - page 2

Bicycle No.808

The famous Bicycle playing cards were first introduced by Russell & Morgan Printing Co in 1885.

Bicycle No.808