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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.

Alice

Alice with artwork by Jesús Blasco, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

‘Alice’ artwork by Jesús Blasco (1919–1995), a Spanish author and comic book artist, published as a deck of playing cards by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

“Alice, a little girl with long blond hair, follows a rabbit into the forest and plummets head-first into an unknown country” more

Alice with artwork by Jesus Blasco, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003 Alice with artwork by Jesus Blasco, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003 Alice with artwork by Jesus Blasco, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003 Alice with artwork by Jesus Blasco, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003

Above: Alice playing cards with artwork by Jesús Blasco, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Further References

Artist: Jesus Blasco

Jesus Blasco, Alice nel paese delle meraviglie

Click Here to visit my Art Gallery on comicartfans.com!

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

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Rex's main interest was in card games, because, he said, they were cheap and easy to get hold of in his early days of collecting. He is well known for his extensive knowledge of Pepys games and his book is on the bookshelves of many.

His other interest was non-standard playing cards. He also had collections of sheet music, music CDs, models of London buses, London Transport timetables and maps and other objects that intrigued him.

Rex had a chequered career at school. He was expelled twice, on one occasion for smoking! Despite this he trained as a radio engineer and worked for the BBC in the World Service.

Later he moved into sales and worked for a firm that made all kinds of packaging, a job he enjoyed until his retirement. He became an expert on boxes and would always investigate those that held his cards. He could always recognize a box made for Pepys, which were the same as those of Alf Cooke’s Universal Playing Card Company, who printed the card games. This interest changed into an ability to make and mend boxes, which he did with great dexterity. He loved this kind of handicraft work.

His dexterity of hand and eye soon led to his making card games of his own design. He spent hours and hours carefully cutting them out and colouring them by hand.

Recommended

Notched Construction Cards

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Two Notched Construction Card Sets by Shackman & Co, N.Y. 1970s.

Müller: Richelieu

Müller: Richelieu

This deck is named after Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu (1585-1642), a French Roman Catholic Clergyman and statesman, Chief Adviser to King Louis XIII, noted for the authoritarian measures he employed to maintain power.

Schweizer Trachten

Schweizer Trachten

Schweizer Trachten No.174 (Costumes Suisses) by Dondorf.

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.

Alice

Alice

Alice with artwork by Jesús Blasco, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Liberty

Liberty

Liberty playing cards designed by Antonella Castelli, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Gulliver im Land der Zwerge

Gulliver im Land der Zwerge

Gulliver in the Land of Dwarfs quartet published by Verlag für Lehrmittel, Pößneck.

El Gato con Botas

El Gato con Botas

Puss in Boots card game manufactured by H. Fournier, 1981.

Baracca & Burattini

Baracca & Burattini

Baracca & Burattini puppetry deck printed by Dal Negro, 1998.

Crikey!

Crikey!

Crikey! Classic British Comics playing cards published by Bird Playing Cards, 2013.

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes deck with caricatures by Jeff Decker published by Gemaco Playing Card Co. 1989

Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver’s Travels card game no.293 published by Piatnik, c.1950.

Martin Mystère

Martin Mystère

Martin Mystère based on the comic book by Alfredo Castelli. The cards were designed by Giancarlo Alessandrini.

Seefahrers II

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‘Seefahrers’ maritime deck designed by Klaus Ensikat for Deutsche Seereederei Rostock, GDR.

Sanyo Ukiyo-E

Sanyo Ukiyo-E

Ukiyo-E deck by Nintendo for Sanyo Enterprise Co.

Year of the Child

Year of the Child

Year of the Child commemorative deck designed by Jhan Paulussen, 1979.

Maya Deck

Maya Deck

The Maya Deck produced by Stancraft for Hoyle, 1976.

Einhorn

Einhorn

‘Einhorn’ designed by Richard König, c.1986.

Authors

Authors

Authors quartet game published by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.

Dickens Snap

Dickens Snap

Dickens Snap, c.1890.

La Mariée du Mardi-Gras

La Mariée du Mardi-Gras

La Mariée du Mardi-Gras, published by Jeux et Jouets Français. Paris, early 1900s.

Mary Whitmore Jones and her Chastleton Patience Board

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Mary Whitmore Jones and her Chastleton Patience Board by Tony Hall.

Wonderland Misfitz

Wonderland Misfitz

Wonderland Misfitz by C.W. Faulkner & Co. Ltd, c.1908.

Bicycle Steampunk

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Bicycle Steampunk playing cards with Gothic artwork by Anne Stokes, 2015.

World of Harry Potter

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World of Harry Potter playing cards produced by Winning Moves under Waddingtons Number 1 brand, 2019.

New Figures by A. I. Charlemagne, 1862

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“Renaissance” playing card designs by A I Charlemagne, 1862.

Bicycle Knights

Bicycle Knights

Bicycle Knights playing cards designed by Sam Hayles in 2018.

Boekenkwartet

Boekenkwartet

Boekenkwartet featuring illustrations from children's books, 1970s.

Aesop’s Fables

Aesop’s Fables

Aesop’s Fables playing cards by I. Kirk, c.1759.

Friendly Felines

Friendly Felines

‘Friendly Felines’ playing cards designed by Azured Ox, 2017.

Gods of Egypt

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Gods of Egypt playing cards dedicated to the culture of Ancient Egypt.

Bicycle 808 Bourbon

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Bicycle 808 Bourbon themed deck by US Playing Card Company 2017.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland playing cards designed by Sasha Dounaevski, 2018.

Kaiserkarte

Kaiserkarte

“Kaiserkarte” first published by Schneider & Co in 1895-1897 for the Imperial Court.

Age of Dragons

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Age of Dragons by Anne Stokes, 2017.

Anne Stokes Collection

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Anne Stokes Collection playing cards, 2010.

The Deck of Cards

The Deck of Cards

The Deck of Cards by Andrew Jones Art, 1979.

Martín Fierro

Martín Fierro

Naipes “Martín Fierro” based on the epic poem by José Hernandez.

On The Cards

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A Motley Pack - transformation playing cards & ‘On The Cards’ book facsimile published by Sunish Chabba, 2019.

68: Playing cards in glass

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My wife and I have recently commissioned a unique pair of stained glass windows for our home.