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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.

Maldives Scenery

Maldives Scenery By Bamboo Souvenirs.

The second of a two-pack souvenir set from the Maldives (the companion to Fish playing cards). Each of the 52 cards has a different photo of the Maldives, while the two jokers are of one design. Cards manufactured in India.

Maldives Scenery By Bamboo Souvenirs
Maldives Scenery By Bamboo Souvenirs Maldives Scenery By Bamboo Souvenirs Maldives Scenery By Bamboo Souvenirs

Above: Maldives Scenery playing cards published by Bamboo Souvenirs, made in India. 52 cards + 2 jokers + extra card in box.

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By Matt Probert

Member since March 02, 2012

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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.

Zoo-Boots

Zoo-Boots

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

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.

Corrida de Toros

Corrida de Toros

Bull fighting card game publshed by Naipes Comas, 1969.

Zooloo Misfitz

Zooloo Misfitz

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

Polska

Polska

Polska with artwork by Katarzyna Tomala & Krzysztof Korzeniak, 2011.

Splash Page Special

Splash Page Special

Splash Page Special party card game.

Ethiopian

Ethiopian

Ethiopian playing cards designed for the Ethiopian Tourist Organization by Afewerk Teklé.

Sapra Studio Original

Sapra Studio Original

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

Brazil Pictorial Aces

Brazil Pictorial Aces

Genoese pattern with Pictorial Aces for Brazil by Brepols, Turnhout, c.1920.

El Al Airlines

El Al Airlines

El Al Airlines deck designed by Jean David, Israel, c.1970.

Natuurkwartet

Natuurkwartet

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

Dynastie Royale de Belgique

Dynastie Royale de Belgique

Dynastie Royale de Belgique by Mesmaekers, 1934.

Botany Quartetts

Botany Quartetts

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

French Revolution

French Revolution

Bicentenaire de la Révolution Française 1789–1989 created by Christian Offroy.

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.

Avilude or Game of Birds

Avilude or Game of Birds

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

Mr Bok

Mr Bok

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

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.

Souvenir from Zakynthos

Souvenir from Zakynthos

Souvenir from Zakynthos by Euro Card.

Friendly Felines

Friendly Felines

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

National Geographic Nature

National Geographic Nature

National Geographic Nature playing cards, 2006.

Fungi Mycological Playing Cards

Fungi Mycological Playing Cards

Mystic Mushrooms Playing Cards, 2018.

Tease Me

Tease Me

‘Tease Me’ 1960s glamour pack.

Gerrymanders

Gerrymanders

Gerrymanders by Globe Series of Games, c.1900.

Souvenir of Norway

Souvenir of Norway

Souvenir of Norway deck.

Freddy the Fox

Freddy the Fox

Freddy the Fox card game published by Valentine & Sons, Ltd, c.1910.

Views of New Zealand

Views of New Zealand

Views of New Zealand published by G.B.Scott Souvenirs, Auckland, c.1960.

New Zealand Souvenir

New Zealand Souvenir

Souvenir from New Zealand by Croxley (John Dickinson) c.1950.

Zoological Misfitz

Zoological Misfitz

Zoological Misfitz card game published by C.W. Faulkner.

Zoo Fun

Zoo Fun

Zoo Fun card game no.445 by Warren Paper Products, c.1960s.

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy by Warren Paper Products, c.1960s.