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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.

Butagaz

“Butagaz” playing cards for the French gas company, c.1976

Cute “Butagaz” cartoon playing cards made in Belgium by Carta Mundi for the French gas company, featuring the teddy bear mascot, c.1976.

“Butagaz” playing cards, c.1976

Above: “Butagaz” playing cards made in Belgium by Carta Mundi for the French gas company, with the teddy bear mascot, c.1976. 52 cards + 2 jokers + contract bridge score card. Images courtesy Rex Pitts.

“Butagaz” playing cards, c.1976