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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.

Myriorama

Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.

The Myriorama was invented in France in c.1823 by Jean-Pierre Brés. The idea is that many different panoramic landscapes may be created by laying a set of illustrated cards in any order. The publisher Samuel Leigh employed artist John Heavside Clark (c. 1771–1863), to create Myrioramas for the English market. The example shown here is of Italian scenery.

Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824 Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824 Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824 Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824

Above: Myriorama of Italian scenery, produced by John H. Clark, published by Samuel Leigh, 1824. 24 elongated cards in box. Images courtesy Shirley Ashman.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

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Myriorama

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