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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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John Waddington Ltd

58 Articles

During the 1930s The Ormond Printing Co. Ltd produced playing cards for the Irish market with a distinctive ace of spades, joker and court cards. In 1935 the firm was acquired as a manufacturing facility for Waddington’s cards in Eire.

Ormond Printing Co. Ltd

During the 1930s The Ormond Printing Co. Ltd produced playing cards for the Irish market with a distinctive ace of spades, joker and court cards. In 1935 the firm was acquired as a manufacturing facility for Waddington’s cards in Eire.

Ormond Printing Co. Ltd

Radio Banker

Radio Banker by John Waddington Ltd for Marconiphone Co Ltd.

Radio Banker

Beaver!

The Game of Beaver designed by G E Studdy and published by John Waddington Ltd in 1927.

Beaver!

My Word

My Word “The last word in card games” designed by Michael Kindred and Malcolm Smith, published in 1980 by Waddingtons.

My Word

Crown the Queen

Crown the Queen card game invented by Elaine Burton, c.1953.

Crown the Queen

Pooltella

Pooltella cards by John Waddington Ltd, the cards that simplify football pool forecasts, 1930s.

Pooltella

Queen’s Silver Jubilee 1977

Queen’s Silver Jubilee playing cards designed by Susan Rae for John Wadddington Ltd, 1977

Queen’s Silver Jubilee 1977

Barribal patience

Waddington’s Patience Cards from the Barribal Series, c.1929.

Barribal patience

Little Demons

“Little Demons” playing cards illustrated by Wayne Anderson, c.1970

Little Demons

Waddington’s 1940 Trade Brochure

Waddington’s 1940 Trade Brochure.

Waddington’s 1940 Trade Brochure

Michelin Tyres, c.1970

Michelin Tyres by Waddingtons, c.1970.

Michelin Tyres, c.1970

English Electric Valve Company Ltd

Special pack made for the English Electric Valve Company Ltd Chelmsford, 1989.

English Electric Valve Company Ltd

When three brands merge...

After De la Rue factories were bombed in 1940 their cards were printed by Waddingtons. In 1962 Waddingtons and De la Rue combined forces to form the Amalgamated Playing Card Co.

When three brands merge...

100 Pipers

100 Pipers Scotch Whisky promotional deck, Waddingtons P.C.Co., c.1973. Includes a Tarot pack offer.

100 Pipers

Help Yourself Society

The “Help Yourself” Society was formed in 1927 to run fundraising activities for hospitals.

Help Yourself Society

Bobs y’r Uncle

“Bobs y'r Uncle” nursery rhyme card game designed by Frank H. Simpson for John Waddington Ltd. in 1935.

Bobs y’r Uncle

Lexicon

The summer of 1932 saw the introduction of Lexicon, when a small edition was produced and sold to test the market.

Lexicon

Manchester United

Deck produced for Manchester United Football Club published in 2006.

Manchester United

Hello Kitty

Waddington’s “Hello Kitty” themed deck produced in 2009.

Hello Kitty

Waddingtons Aces of Spades, 1970 onwards

Waddingtons Aces of Spades, 1970 onwards

Waddingtons Aces of Spades, 1970 onwards

Souvenir of Scotland

52 Selected Views of Scotland produced for United Cigar & Tobacco Co. Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland by Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd.

Souvenir of Scotland

S. Salomon & Co Nr.154

Nr.154 Holmblads made by John Waddington Ltd specially for S. Salomon & Co., Copenhagen

S. Salomon & Co Nr.154

Historical Characters

“Historical Characters” playing cards printed by Waddington’s for Thermawear Ltd, 1994

Historical Characters

Cheers & Tears

Cheers & Tears by John Waddington Ltd, 1963.

Cheers & Tears

Kon-Vex Playing Cards

Waddington’s introduced a series of unusual shapes in the early 1950s.

Kon-Vex Playing Cards

Hoover Ltd Playing Cards

Vintage cartoon courts and ace of spades specially designed for Hoover Limited, with full colour back showing the Art Deco style Hoover factory at Perivale, manufactured by Waddington's Playing Cards, c.1930.

Hoover Ltd Playing Cards

41: A Guide to Dating Playing Cards

Dating is a particularly tricky but very interesting problem to tackle and there are many pitfalls.

41: A Guide to Dating Playing Cards

Artex No.111

No.111 by Artex is a copy of Waddingtons standard designs, c1962.

Artex No.111

Ferguson Happy Families

Ferguson Happy Families card game was produced by Ferguson Electronics and printed by John Waddington Ltd in c.1960.

Ferguson Happy Families

28: How to Analyze and Differentiate Playing Card Plates (De La Rue, Waddington and the Berlin pattern [französisches Bild])

My interest in postage stamp variants led me to apply the same principles to playing cards.

28: How to Analyze and Differentiate Playing Card Plates (De La Rue, Waddington and the Berlin pattern [französisches Bild])

Whot

Whot was invented by William Henry Storey in 1935. It comes from the days when friends and family played indoor games by the fireside.

Whot

Ormond Printing Co. Ltd

During the 1930s The Ormond Printing Co. Ltd produced playing cards for the Irish market with a distinctive ace of spades, joker and court cards. In 1935 the firm was acquired as a manufacturing facility for Waddington’s cards in Eire.

Ormond Printing Co. Ltd

17: Waddington, Including Some of Their Less Common Packs

John Berry's two-volume work on the Waddington archive and collection is a very comprehensive presentation of the history of the firm, but there are some items missing from it which I include here.

17: Waddington, Including Some of Their Less Common Packs

14: Back Designs

A few examples of the many interesting back designs.

14: Back Designs

7: Brands and Packs

The introduction of brands commenced during the late 19th century as a development of the old qualities: Moguls, Harrys, Highlanders and Merry Andrews.

7: Brands and Packs

Cir-Q-Lar

Cir-Q-Lar Playing Cards. In 1929 John Waddington Ltd commenced the production of circular cards and these were very popular.

Cir-Q-Lar

Siriol Clarry

Playing cards designed by Siriol Clarry

Siriol Clarry

Holmblads No. 121

Holmblads No. 121 made by John Waddington, England, for Denmark

Holmblads No. 121

John Waddington Ltd, early type

John Waddington Ltd, early type Ace of Spades and court cards, 1922-30.

John Waddington Ltd, early type

Amalgamated Playing Card Co., Ltd

Agreement had been reached between Waddington's and De La Rue during the second world war for Waddington's to manufacture playing cards for De la Rue. Thus the Amalgamated Playing Card Company was born but it remained an unofficial name for many years.

Amalgamated Playing Card Co., Ltd

Waddington’s “Envoy“ Series

Waddington’s “Envoy“ Series.

Waddington’s “Envoy“ Series

Waddington’s “Flying” Series, 1933

Waddington’s “Flying” Series, 1933.

Waddington’s “Flying” Series, 1933

Waddington’s Encore Series

Waddington’s Encore Series 1933.

Waddington’s Encore Series

Waddington’s Classic and Wildlife Series, 1933

Waddington’s Classic and Wildlife Series, 1933.

Waddington’s Classic and Wildlife Series, 1933

Waddington’s Varsity Series

Waddington’s Varsity Series.

Waddington’s Varsity Series

Waddington’s Sporting Series

Waddington’s Sporting Series, 1933.

Waddington’s Sporting Series

Waddington’s Cir-Q-Lar Playing Cards

Waddington's Cir-Q-Lar Playing Cards, c.1930

Waddington’s Cir-Q-Lar Playing Cards

Waddington’s Sporting Birds Series 1933

Waddington’s Sporting Birds Series 1933.

Waddington’s Sporting Birds Series 1933

Barribal Series

William H. Barribal (1873 - 1956) was a London artist who created the Waddingtons 'Barribal' playing cards series, which are avidly collected today.

Barribal Series