The World of Playing Cards Logo

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.

Chérie

Chérie No 7022 designed by Hans & Louise Neupert, nice vibrant artwork, swinging 60s

Chérie No 7022 pin-up playing cards designed by Hans & Louise Neupert, 1965. The four aces, 12 court cards and 3 jokers depict delightful pin-up models wearing exotic clothing, feathers and stockings, with smaller motifs repeated on the numeral cards.

Chérie No 7022 designed by Hans & Louise Neupert, 1965 Chérie No 7022 designed by Hans & Louise Neupert, 1965 Chérie No 7022 designed by Hans & Louise Neupert, 1965

Above: Chérie No 7022 designed by Hans & Louise Neupert, manufactured by VEB Altenburg, 1965, 1978.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks to Paula Wintle, Eric Johnson and Joop Muller for additional research.

avatar

By Matt Probert

Member since March 02, 2012

View Articles

I have adored playing cards since before I was seven years old, and was brought up on packs of Waddington's No 1. As a child I was fascinated by the pictures of the court cards.

Over the next fifty years I was seduced by the artwork in Piatnik's packs and became a collector of playing cards.

Seeking more information about various unidentified packs I discovered the World of Playing Cards website and became an enthusiastic contributor researching and documenting different packs of cards.

I describe my self as a playing card archaeologist, using detective work to identify and date obscure packs of cards discovered in old houses, flea markets and car boot sales.

Recommended

Vargas Girls

Vargas Girls

‘Vargas Girls’ paintings by Alberto Vargas in a deck of cards published by Creative Playing Card Co Missouri.

The Art of Pin-Up decks

The Art of Pin-Up decks

Feminine beauty has been appreciated since prehistory.

Portraits of a Lady

Portraits of a Lady

Portraits of a Lady by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Pin-up deck no.5513

Pin-up deck no.5513

Celebrity Pin-up deck no.5513 by unknown publisher.

Pulp Pin-Up

Pulp Pin-Up

Classic 1940s Pulp Pin-Up covers on playing cards from China, c.2010.

Römihártya

Römihártya

Römihártya pin-up deck from Hungary.

Eroticartes

Eroticartes

Eroticartes with drawings by Pino Zac, 1983.

Baby Dolls

Baby Dolls

Baby Dolls pinup deck designed by Willy Mayrl, published by Piatnik, 1957.

Darling

Darling

Darling pin-up playing cards designed by Heinz Villiger, c.1950s-60s.

Römihártya Játékkartyagyár

Römihártya Játékkartyagyár

Pin-up Rummy Playing Cards, made in Hungary, c.1970.

Bathing Beauties

Bathing Beauties

Bathing Beauties throughout the ages, published in Hungary, 1967.

Tease Me

Tease Me

‘Tease Me’ 1960s glamour pack.

54 Pin-up Motivs

54 Pin-up Motivs

Hungarian pin-up deck illustrated by Imre Sebök, c.1960.

Chérie

Chérie

Chérie No 7022 designed by Hans & Louise Neupert, nice vibrant artwork, swinging 60s

Mayall Press Art Studies

Mayall Press Art Studies

Photographic playing cards - each face having an "art study" of a female nude, Mayall Press, Stockwell, London, c.1946.

What the Butler Saw

What the Butler Saw

“What the Butler Saw” playing cards depicting tasteful photography of the female body.

Hollywood Stars

Hollywood Stars

Hollywood Stars by Maple Leaf B.V., Amsterdam, 1957

DC Comic Bombshells

DC Comic Bombshells

Stylish playing cards featuring the glamorous, superpowered female stars of the alternate reality world of DC Comics, published by 'Forbidden Planet', 2015

Olivia’s Lucky Ladies

Olivia’s Lucky Ladies

“Olivia’s Lucky Ladies” glamour model playing cards produced by Ozone Productions Ltd, USA, 2004

Playboy Fragrances, 2010

Playboy Fragrances, 2010

In 2010 Playboy Fragrances (Coty) released a 'gaming' set promotion comprising two decks of identical cards, one set of five dice and poker chips.

Shapely

Shapely

“Shapely” non-standard adult playing cards manufactured by Angel Playing Cards Co., Japan, 1980

Paparazzi Pin-up Deck

Paparazzi Pin-up Deck

Pin-up deck given free with Paparazzi magazine, 2005

Glorious Colección 1995

Glorious Colección 1995

Spanish-suited playing cards featuring the ‘Glorious’ ladies swimwear collection for 1995, designed by Estudio Fileni/Mendióroz.

Hard-a-Port

Hard-a-Port

Tobacco insert cards were a very successful marketing innovation which started in the nineteenth century.

Axe Deodorant

Axe Deodorant

Clearly promoting good personal hygiene, each card shows a young, pouting female model posing seductively and appealing to the playboy.