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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.

Cassandre for Hermès

Promotional playing cards created by A. M. Cassandre (pseudonym of Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron, 1901-1968) with abstract, almost surrealist figures and ornamentation, but clearly inspired by medieval art and rendered into an Art Deco style.

Promotional playing cards created for the famous Parisian store by A. M. Cassandre (pseudonym of Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron, 1901-1968) with abstract, almost surrealist figures and ornamentation inspired by medieval art and rendered into an Art Deco idiom. His sensibility was also influenced by cubism, yet his aesthetic was superbly original.

Cassandre was a Ukrainian-French painter, commercial poster artist, and typeface designer. He created an enormous corpus of graphically groundbreaking work, including travel posters, typefaces, and advertising. In 1963 he designed the well-known Yves Saint-Laurent logo. These cards are from the original 1948 edition of playing cards designed by Cassandre for Hermès-Paris and made by Draeger Frères, also of Paris.

cards from the original 1948 edition of the set designed by Cassandre for Hermès-Paris

Above: cards from the original 1948 edition of the deck designed by Cassandre for Hermès, Paris and made by Draeger Frères, also of Paris. The cards were sold as a double deck set with each deck in its own tuck case and both tuck cases housed in a larger plain brown box with Hermes name and address on it. The tuck boxes are printed, front and back, with the back design of the cards. Images from the collection of Rod Starling.

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By Rod Starling

Member since January 09, 2013

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Rod Starling is one of the founding members of the 52 Plus Joker card collectors club. He has written many articles for the club's quarterly newsletter, Clear the Decks. His collection still encompasses both foreign and American decks. Rod has also authored a book titled The Art and Pleasures of Playing Cards.

Also by Rod Starling

Download as Adobe PDF files:

"Playing Card Art Collectors Extraordinaire"

"Some Facts About Facsimiles"

"Something New and Topical"

"Tales From the Stage"

"Shuffling Along With History"

"Steamboat Cards and the Mississippi Mystique"

"Piatnik: High Quality & Longevity"

"Three Rare Playing Card Back Designs"

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