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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.

Gundlach Skat No.100

Skat No.100 by E. Gundlach, Bielefeld, 1949.

Skat No.100 by E. Gundlach, Bielefeld, 1949

Skat No.100 by E. Gundlach, Bielefeld, 1949. This is the second version where the jack of spades has no flag.

The firm was founded in 1847 as a bookbinder by Ernst Gundlach (1818-1888) and over the years diversified into various branches of the paper, cardboard, graphic and publishing industries. The playing card department was added in 1948. The earliest packs are named "E. Gundlach", but in 1950 an independent subsidiary was established: "Bielefelder Spielkarten GmbH". The business was sold to Vereinigte Altenburger and Stralsunder Spielkarten AG (ASS) in 1972.

Skat No.100 by E. Gundlach, Bielefeld, 1949 Skat No.100 by E. Gundlach, Bielefeld, 1949

Above: Skat No.100 by E. Gundlach, Bielefeld, 1949. 32 cards. Images courtesy Jon Randall. An earlier edition of this design features the jack of spades with a banner and yellow feather

view of E. Gundlach factory, 1920s
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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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