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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.

Andere Zeiten - Andere Kleider

‘History of fashion’ cultural quartet game designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, 1954.

‘History of fashion’ cultural quartet game designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, 1954

History of fashion educational quartet game showing European clothing through the ages, designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, published by Rudolf Forkel, Pössneck, 1954.

A brilliant example of the German first class pictorial children’s card games.

Above: ‘Andere Zeiten - Andere Kleider’ cultural history quartet game designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, published by Verlag Rudolf Forkel, Pössneck, manufactured by VEB Altenburger Spielkartenfabrik, 1954, 1961. 36 cards + booklet in box.

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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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Schweizer Trachten

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Schweizer Trachten No.174 (Costumes Suisses) by Dondorf.

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Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.

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J. W. Spear and Sons

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Chad Valley Co. Ltd

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Multum in Parvo Co., Ltd

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Ariel Productions Ltd

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Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games

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Crazy People

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Andere Zeiten - Andere Kleider

Andere Zeiten - Andere Kleider

‘History of fashion’ cultural quartet game designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, 1954.

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Dutch costumes quartet game designed by Gerard Huijg, 1983.

Panko

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Panko (Votes for Women) suffragette card game published by Peter Gurney Ltd, c.1912.

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Lion Coffee

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Panto People

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Panto People published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

Hats-Off!

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Hats-Off! miniature card game published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

Zoo-Boots

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XIXth Century

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The XIXth Century published by John Jaques & Son, c.1875.

The ‘Rinker’ Snap

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Round the World Happy Families by Chiefton Products Ltd of Bristol, c.1950s.

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes

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Geschichte des Buchgewerbes illustrated by Ludwig Winkler, published by Verlag für Lehrmittel Pößneck.

So Fängt Es An

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“So Fängt Es An” beautifully illustrated by M. Neugebauer, published by Helingsche Verlagsanstalt, c.1950.

Abbatt Animal Families

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Abbatt Toys Animal Families, c.1970.

Verkehrsmittel Einst und Jetzt

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“Verkehrsmittel Einst und Jetzt” transport quartet game by Bielefelder Spielkarten Fabrik GmbH, 1958.

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Asterix Adventure quartet game by ASS, 1989.

French for Fun

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French for Fun instructive card game published by John Jaques & Son Ltd., c.1930s

Eurotrotter

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Eurotrotter by La Ducale, c.1980s.

Schwarzer Peter no.964

Schwarzer Peter no.964

Schwarzer Peter no.964 published by Josef Hohlweg, Vienna, early 20th century.

Counties of Britain

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Counties of Britain by John Jaques & Son Ltd. c.1930.

Radio Banker

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Radio Banker by John Waddington Ltd for Marconiphone Co Ltd.

Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien

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‘Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien’ family card game by Dondorf.

Zwarte Piet

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Zwarte Piet by Dondorf for the Dutch market, 1906.