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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.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

One of a series of sumptuous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express playing cards produced by B.P. Grimaud for the VSOE gift collection. The 3/4 length court cards depict people in Oriental costumes.

One of a series of sumptuous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express playing cards produced by B.P. Grimaud for the VSOE gift collection. The 3/4 length court cards depict people in Oriental costumes and the designs are reminiscent of Dondorf's “Vier-Erdteile” (Four Continents) deck. As it happens the deck was originally published by Grimaud in 1890 with no indices, but indices have been overlaid in the present edition. The tax stamp visible on the Ace of Clubs was in use in France until 1940.

See also: Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Playing Cards →

Venise-Simplon Orient Express Playing Cards produced by B.P. Grimaud, Paris

Above: Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Playing Cards produced by B.P. Grimaud, Paris. Images courtesy Barney Townshend.

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By Barney Townshend

Member since October 06, 2015

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Retired Airline Pilot, interested in: Transformation Playing Cards, Karl Gerich and Elaine Lewis. Secretary of the EPCS. Treasurer of the IPCS.

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Liberty

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Liberty playing cards designed by Antonella Castelli, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Polska

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Polska with artwork by Katarzyna Tomala & Krzysztof Korzeniak, 2011.

Ethiopian

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Ethiopian playing cards designed for the Ethiopian Tourist Organization by Afewerk Teklé.

Sapra Studio Original

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Sapra Studio Original playing cards featuring wild animals of S Africa, 1999.

Brazil Pictorial Aces

Brazil Pictorial Aces

Genoese pattern with Pictorial Aces for Brazil by Brepols, Turnhout, c.1920.

El Al Airlines

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El Al Airlines deck designed by Jean David, Israel, c.1970.

Stationskwartetspel

Stationskwartetspel

Railway Stations quartet game illustrated by Wim Dolk and published by Servex BV, Utrecht, 1975.

Dynastie Royale de Belgique

Dynastie Royale de Belgique

Dynastie Royale de Belgique by Mesmaekers, 1934.

French Revolution

French Revolution

Bicentenaire de la Révolution Française 1789–1989 created by Christian Offroy.

Lobo

Lobo

Lobo, the London Underground card game published by Thomas De la Rue & Co Ltd, 1930s.

Souvenir from Zakynthos

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Souvenir from Zakynthos by Euro Card.

Souvenir of Norway

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Souvenir of Norway deck.

Views of New Zealand

Views of New Zealand

Views of New Zealand published by G.B.Scott Souvenirs, Auckland, c.1960.

New Zealand Souvenir

New Zealand Souvenir

Souvenir from New Zealand by Croxley (John Dickinson) c.1950.

Ocean to Ocean Canada Souvenir

Ocean to Ocean Canada Souvenir

“Ocean to Ocean” Canadian Pictorial Souvenir pack by Chas Goodall & Son Ltd, c.1912.

Ocean to Ocean Souvenir of Canada, c.1905

Ocean to Ocean Souvenir of Canada, c.1905

Ocean to Ocean Souvenir of Canada by Chas Goodall & Son Ltd, c.1905.

Red Sea

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Red Sea fish identification cards published in several languages by Horus of Egypt, 2005.

Folklore No.169

Folklore No.169

Austrian Folklore deck first published by Piatnik in 1934.

Baraja Turística de España

Baraja Turística de España

Baraja Turística de España by Heraclio Fournier, 1966.

Discover Romania

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Discover Romania souvenir published by Editura Foton, 2010.

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah

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Romania Unique Places

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Romania Unique Places souvenir playing cards by Age Art.

Trains

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Trains card game with pictures by Ian Allan, published by Pepys, 1962.

Erlenmeyer City Sights

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Greek Mythology

Greek Mythology

Greek Mythology playing cards published by Michalis Toubis S.A., 1995.

Columbian Exposition Souvenir

Columbian Exposition Souvenir

Columbian Exposition Souvenir playing cards, G.W. Clark, Chicago, 1893.

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau

Elegant gold-printed playing cards in Jugendstil style designed by Otto Benz for Renault, 1987

Lakeland

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Lakeland playing cards by Stuart Lawrence depicting famous characters & views of England’s Lake District, c.1988.

Venezuela Baraja Turística

Venezuela Baraja Turística

Venezuela Souvenir deck by Heraclio Fournier, c.1980s.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Souvenir playing cards from the culturally diverse southwestern Pacific island of Papua New Guinea.

Provinces de France

Provinces de France

Jeu des Provinces de France published by Éditions Dusserre, 1979.

Nepal Souvenir

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Souvenir from Nepal marketed by Himalayan Map House

Sorrento Napoletane

Sorrento Napoletane

Souvenir of Sorrento by Carte Da Gioco Muoio, Naples, c.2010

Trinidad Carnival Playing Cards

Trinidad Carnival Playing Cards

“Allfours Carnival Playing Cards” designed by Gabby Woodham, Trinidad, 1995

Maldives Scenery

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Maldives Scenery By Bamboo Souvenirs.

Altenburger Bauerntrachten

Altenburger Bauerntrachten

“Altenburger Bauerntrachten” commemorating 150 years of playing cards from Altenburg, designed by Andreas Wachter, 1982.

Deutsche Reichsbahn

Deutsche Reichsbahn

Deutsche Reichsbahn (German Railways) deck designed by Peter Becker, 1989

Royal Pavilion at Brighton

Royal Pavilion at Brighton

The Royal Pavilion, also known as the Brighton Pavilion, is an Asian-style palace built for King George IV when he was Prince of Wales.

Menorca Souvenir by Savir S.A.

Menorca Souvenir by Savir S.A.

Menorca Souvenir by Savir S.A., Barcelona, c.1980.

Scottish Picture Playing Cards

Scottish Picture Playing Cards

Scottish Picture Playing Cards featuring photographs by Colin Baxter, 1987