Ancient Greece was the birthplace and cradle of European civilisation.
Greek mythology has, of course, featured in the design of playing cards and "Ancient Civilisation" games in many parts of the world since at least the seventeenth century. Card playing is not as popular in Greece as it is elsewhere and the uptake has been slower than in other parts of Europe. Greek card players today use either the Anglo-American or French National pattern, but a number of tourist souvenir packs are produced featuring Greek Mythology, Ancient Lovers or photographs of Greece. Belgian or Genoese style cards have also been used. In the 1920s the manufacturers Paignioxartopoeion e Elpis of Corfu made a pack with Venetian format and Greek mythological figures on the court cards. This pack disappeared after the Italian invasion in 1939. Grafika Teknai Aspioti-Elka of Athens introduced a national French-suited pattern, also with classical figures on the court cards, which remained in production for many decades.
The myths of the early Greeks have given world literature some of its greatest inspiration, while the dramatists set the pattern on which drama has developed ever since.
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Souvenir of Greece
Greek Souvenir playing cards are produced in various styles, ranging from colour photos of Greek scenery to photos of artefacts in museums celebrating ancient Greek civilisation. Some editions of "Greek Playing Cards" are a standard English pattern with a cheerful colour photo of a Greek Island on the reverse, made by a local manufacturer such as Dama Pica Ltd.. Advertising decks for Greek shipping lines or other businesses are often produced by foreign manufacturers rather than national ones.
The ancient Greek works of art were closely related to the practical or religious purpose for which they were primarily designed. Classical Greek art is an art charged with meaning that appeals as much to the intelligence as to the sensibility. A large number of Greek painted vases have survived, and these often used the human figure as part of their ornamentation. The images are often striking in their accurate and vivid observation, taken from life. The human body was drawn at the peak of its youth and strength with explicit anatomical detail. Aphrodite was often venerated in vase painting, surrounded by Loves and Graces, beautiful nude young women and finely shaped youths.
Some Greek artists loved youthful bodies in slightly languid poses, often depicting the softness of flesh, engaged in carefree leisure. Other artists strove to depict idealised beauty as promoted in Platonic teachings. The many facets and phases of Greek art provide a rich source of imagery for Greek tourist souvenir playing cards.
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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.
52 selected views of Scotland by De La Rue (Waddingtons) for GlenAlan Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, c.1960s.
Kings and Queens of Portugal between 1185 - 1279. by V. de J.J. Nunes , Lisbon, Portugal, 1977.
Colour photographs of Turkey, published by Sel Reklam, Antalya, Turkey, c.2000.
Images from the Ministry of Defence Cape Wrath Training Centre, Sutherland, Scotland. Published 2010.
Carte da Gioco Toscana souvenir deck, 2002.
Playing cards featuring traditional folk costumes from Romania.
Souvenir pack from Garuda Indonesia, the national airline of Indonesia, c.1985.
Original designs from the French overseas department of Martinique by local artist Martine Porry.
Fifty-five paintings of Bulgaria published as “Sense of Bulgaria” by Land of Roses Ltd, Bulgaria, c.2015.
San Marino stamp designs combined with photographic views by La Fotometalgrafica Emiliana, c.1975.
Annapurna playing cards produced and published by Himalayan MapHouse, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Pack designed by Jean David (1908-93) for El Al Airlines. The courts are named after Biblical characters.
Facsimile of Swiss William Tell deck from c.1870 published by Lo Scarabeo.
Polska with artwork by Katarzyna Tomala & Krzysztof Korzeniak, 2011.
Ethiopian playing cards designed for the Ethiopian Tourist Organization by Afewerk Teklé.
Sapra Studio Original playing cards featuring wild animals of S Africa, 1999.
Genoese pattern with Pictorial Aces for Brazil by Brepols, Turnhout, c.1920.
Dynastie Royale de Belgique by Mesmaekers, 1934.
Bicentenaire de la Révolution Française 1789–1989 created by Christian Offroy.
National Misfitz published by C.W. Faulkner & Co c.1900.
Souvenir from Zakynthos by Euro Card.
Souvenir of Norway deck.
Views of New Zealand published by G.B.Scott Souvenirs, Auckland, c.1960.
Souvenir from New Zealand by Croxley (John Dickinson) c.1950.
“Ocean to Ocean” Canadian Pictorial Souvenir pack by Chas Goodall & Son Ltd, c.1912.
Ocean to Ocean Souvenir of Canada by Chas Goodall & Son Ltd, c.1905.
Red Sea fish identification cards published in several languages by Horus of Egypt, 2005.
Austrian Folklore deck first published by Piatnik in 1934.
Baraja Turística de España by Heraclio Fournier, 1966.
Discover Romania souvenir published by Editura Foton, 2010.
Gold plated souvenir playing cards from the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel in Dubai.
Romania Unique Places souvenir playing cards by Age Art.
Neue Deutsche Spielkarte (Reformkarte) conceived by Dr. Timon Schroeter, 1883.
Erlenmeyer City Sights hand-illustrated playing cards by Stephanie Gray, 2015.
Greek Mythology playing cards published by Michalis Toubis S.A., 1995.
Columbian Exposition Souvenir playing cards, G.W. Clark, Chicago, 1893.
Lakeland playing cards by Stuart Lawrence depicting famous characters & views of England’s Lake District, c.1988.
Venezuela Souvenir deck by Heraclio Fournier, c.1980s.
Souvenir playing cards from the culturally diverse southwestern Pacific island of Papua New Guinea.
Jeu des Provinces de France published by Éditions Dusserre, 1979.