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Published August 25, 2014 Updated March 11, 2023

Utamaro “Ukiyo-e” playing cards

Utamaro Ukiyo-e playing cards showing woodblock prints of beautiful women.

Japan Angel Kitagawa Utamaro Art & Design Ukiyo-e Add to Collection

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) created woodblock prints of beautiful women and these “Utamaro Ukiyo-e” playing cards show details from some of his works.

Above: “Utamaro Ukiyo-e” playing cards manufactured by Angel Playing Cards Co. Ltd, Kyoto, Japan. Even the box is a form of art in itself.

• Website: Angel Playing Cards Co Ltd

• Wikipedia: Utamaro

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

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.


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