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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.

Schwarzer Peter

Schwarzer Peter No.831 by F.X. Schmid, c.1960s.

Schwarzer Peter card game manufactured by F.X. Schmid, c.1960s. There have been several editions of this game over the years.

Schwarzer Peter by F.X. Schmid, c.1960s Schwarzer Peter by F.X. Schmid, c.1960s Schwarzer Peter by F.X. Schmid, c.1960s

Above: Schwarzer Peter patience-size card game (66 x 43 mm approx) manufactured by F.X. Schmid, c.1960s. The two part plastic box has a marbled effect base which has "Made in Germany" embossed on it. The title card has the rules (in German) on the reverse. Images courtesy Matt Probert.

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By Matt Probert

Member since March 02, 2012

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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.

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