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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.

T O Weigel, Leipzig, 1885

Cards from a pack designed by Ludwig Burger, 1885

Cards from a pack designed by Ludwig Burger that formed part of a games collection presented to the German Crown-Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm, later Friedrich III, and his wife Victoria on the occasion of their silver wedding anniversary. Friedrich reigned for only 99 days in 1888 and is known as the 99 days emperor. The suit of Acorns illustrates the art of warfare; Leaves hunting; Hearts love and Bells crafts, industry and commerce.

Printed by Wezel and Naumann, published by T O Weigel, Leipzig, 1885.


Images courtesy of Peter Endebrock. To see more cards from this deck, see Peter Endebrock's site

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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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T O Weigel, Leipzig, 1885

T O Weigel, Leipzig, 1885

Cards from a pack designed by Ludwig Burger, 1885