The World of Playing Cards Logo

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.

Fish Playing Cards

Fish Playing Cards by Bamboo (Parksons Press).

Fish identification playing cards published by the Bamboo Souvenir Shop, Republic of Maldives, the companion to Maldives Scenery playing cards. Each card has a full-colour painting of a different fish. See the Extra Card

Fish Playing Cards by Bamboo Fish Playing Cards by Bamboo Fish Playing Cards by Bamboo

Above: Fish Playing Cards by Bamboo Souvenir Shop, Maldives. Made in India, probably manufactured by Parkson Press. 52 cards + 2 jokers + extra card.

avatar

By Matt Probert

Member since March 02, 2012

View Articles

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.

Recommended

Black Peter

Black Peter

Two Black Peter games by Willy Mayrl published by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne, 1950s.

Myriorama

Myriorama

Myriorama of Italian scenery, 1824.

Chad Valley Co. Ltd

Chad Valley Co. Ltd

Chad Valley Co. Ltd (incorporating Johnson Brothers (Harborne) Ltd, the long-established UK brand bought by Woolworths in 1988 and now sold at Argos.

Andere Zeiten - Andere Kleider

Andere Zeiten - Andere Kleider

‘History of fashion’ cultural quartet game designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, 1954.

Zoo-Boots

Zoo-Boots

Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

XIXth Century

XIXth Century

The XIXth Century published by John Jaques & Son, c.1875.

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes illustrated by Ludwig Winkler, published by Verlag für Lehrmittel Pößneck.

So Fängt Es An

So Fängt Es An

“So Fängt Es An” beautifully illustrated by M. Neugebauer, published by Helingsche Verlagsanstalt, c.1950.

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Toys Animal Families, c.1970.

French for Fun

French for Fun

French for Fun instructive card game published by John Jaques & Son Ltd., c.1930s

Eurotrotter

Eurotrotter

Eurotrotter by La Ducale, c.1980s.

Counties of Britain

Counties of Britain

Counties of Britain by John Jaques & Son Ltd. c.1930.

Corrida de Toros

Corrida de Toros

Bull fighting card game publshed by Naipes Comas, 1969.

Countries of Empire

Countries of Empire

“Countries of Empire” published by John Jaques & Son Ltd, c.1930s.

Anma US Armed Forces

Anma US Armed Forces

Anma US Armed Forces, 1942.

Bedeutende Erfindungen im Alltag

Bedeutende Erfindungen im Alltag

‘Significant Inventions in Everyday Life’ quartet game published by Verlag für Lehrmittel, Pössneck, 1979.

Zooloo Misfitz

Zooloo Misfitz

Zooloo Misfitz card game designed by George Lambert for C.W. Faulkner & Co, c.1907.

Sapra Studio Original

Sapra Studio Original

Sapra Studio Original playing cards featuring wild animals of S Africa, 1999.

Musikinstrumente

Musikinstrumente

Musikinstrumente quartet game published by Verlag für Lehrmittel, Pössneck, 1984.

Natuurkwartet

Natuurkwartet

Nature Quartet game published by Staatsbosbeheer, printed by Roem Speelkaarten, Kampen.

Botany Quartetts

Botany Quartetts

Botany card game published by Houlston and Wright & Henry Greenwood, c.1860.

Neerlands Glorie

Neerlands Glorie

Neerlands Glorie Kwartetspel published by Hausemann & Hötte N.V, Amsterdam, 1945.

Rainbow

Rainbow

Rainbow card game and colour mixing guide printed by Goodall & Sons for Robert Johnson, c.1920.

Happy Guides

Happy Guides

Happy Guides by James Brown & Son (Glasgow) Ltd. around 1910/1915.

Snap

Snap

Snap card game illustrated with animals, by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen - Quartett game promoting Kali brand crop fertilizer, 1938.

Schwarzer Peter Der Wald und seine Leute

Schwarzer Peter Der Wald und seine Leute

Schwarzer Peter the Forest and its People, illustrated by Liesel Lauterborn, 1955.

Wie Wird das Wetter

Wie Wird das Wetter

Wie Wird das Wetter, a Black Peter game about the weather created by Gunter Eckhardt, published by Rudolf Forkel,1952.

Avilude or Game of Birds

Avilude or Game of Birds

Avilude or Game of Birds published by West & Lee, Worcester, Mass, c.1880.

Educación Vial

Educación Vial

Educación Vial (Road Safety) card game published by H. Fournier, 1995.

Mr Bok

Mr Bok

The Merry Game of Mr Bok and his Happy Families, promoting Bok furniture polish, 1930s.

Fancy Dress Ball

Fancy Dress Ball

Spear’s “Fancy Dress Ball” card game with children dressed in period costumes, 1930s.

Greenpeace

Greenpeace

Campaign deck for Greenpeace with drawings of penguins, seals, whales and dolphins.

Flora

Flora

‘Flora’ card game published by C.W. Faulkner, printed by Dondorf, 1903.

Welsh Language Playing Cards

Welsh Language Playing Cards

Welsh Language Playing Cards designed by Richard Ruston-Burgess, made in Wales, 2020.

Historische Verkehrswege

Historische Verkehrswege

“Historische Verkehrswege” quartet game published by Verlag für Lehrmittel Pössneck, 1988.

Animal Misfitz

Animal Misfitz

Animal Misfitz designed by George Lambert for Faulkner Games, c.1900.

Carousel Playing Cards

Carousel Playing Cards

Carousel Playing Cards commissioned by Tesco stores, 2019.

Aesop’s Fables

Aesop’s Fables

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