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Published March 22, 2021 Updated November 24, 2023

The Art of Pin-Up decks

Feminine beauty has been appreciated since prehistory.

Erotic Pin-up Add to Collection

Feminine beauty has been appreciated since prehistory, so first of all let us visit the Prado Museum Art Gallery in Madrid and view some fine art paintings of women.

3 images from Tne Prado Museum, Madrid

Above: After the Bath (Female Nude) by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta, c.1895. An intimate scene of daily toilette...  see more

Above: Venus with an Organist and Cupid, Tiziano Vecellio (Titian), c.1555. Contemplating the goddess’s nudity...  see more

Above: La Tirana by José Casado del Alisal, c.1875. Highly charged sensuality and eroticism...  see more

The rise of pin-up playing cards

During WWII, when men from the Navy and Armed Forces went abroad, there was a trend for images of girls dressing seductively for their men to ‘pin up’ and gaze at during months away from home. This gave way to a rise in popularity of the genre. Positively, they can be viewed as expressions of femininity and beauty. Conversely, others think they are smut and subordinate women as objects, and are therefore distasteful.

The packs illustrated below cover a range of styles. Some show skill at depicting female sensuality, others lack subtlety or a more profound meaning. We invite you to judge for yourself.

‘Vargas Girls’ paintings by Alberto Vargas in a deck of cards published by Creative Playing Card Co Missouri.

Vargas Girls

Portraits of a Lady by Lo Scarabeo, 2003.

Portraits of a Lady

Celebrity Pin-up deck no.5513 by unknown publisher.

Pin-up deck no.5513

Classic 1940s Pulp Pin-Up covers on playing cards from China, c.2010.

Pulp Pin-Up

Römihártya pin-up deck from Hungary.

Römihártya

Baby Dolls pinup deck designed by Willy Mayrl, published by Piatnik, 1957.

Baby Dolls

Darling

Darling pin-up playing cards designed by Heinz Villiger, c.1950s-60s.

Darling

Pin-up Rummy Playing Cards, made in Hungary, c.1970.

Römihártya Játékkartyagyár

Bathing Beauties throughout the ages, published in Hungary, 1967.

Bathing Beauties

Tease Me

‘Tease Me’ 1960s glamour pack.

Tease Me

Military Pin Up

Military Pin Up created by Sviatoslay Pashchuk (Ukraine) 2019.

Military Pin Up

Hungarian pin-up deck illustrated by Imre Sebök, c.1960.

54 Pin-up Motivs

Chérie

Chérie No 7022 designed by Hans & Louise Neupert, nice vibrant artwork, swinging 60s

Chérie

Photographic playing cards - each face having an "art study" of a female nude, Mayall Press, Stockwell, London, c.1946.

Mayall Press Art Studies

Hollywood Stars

Hollywood Stars by Maple Leaf B.V., Amsterdam, 1957

Hollywood Stars

Stylish playing cards featuring the glamorous, superpowered female stars of the alternate reality world of DC Comics, published by 'Forbidden Planet', 2015

DC Comic Bombshells

“Olivia’s Lucky Ladies” glamour model playing cards produced by Ozone Productions Ltd, USA, 2004

Olivia’s Lucky Ladies

In 2010 Playboy Fragrances (Coty) released a 'gaming' set promotion comprising two decks of identical cards, one set of five dice and poker chips.

Playboy Fragrances, 2010

Pin-up deck given free with Paparazzi magazine, 2005

Paparazzi Pin-up Deck

Spanish-suited playing cards featuring the ‘Glorious’ ladies swimwear collection for 1995, designed by Estudio Fileni/Mendióroz.

Glorious Colección 1995

Tobacco insert cards were a very successful marketing innovation which started in the nineteenth century.

Hard-a-Port

Axe Deodorant

Clearly promoting good personal hygiene, each card shows a young, pouting female model posing seductively and appealing to the playboy.

Axe Deodorant
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    773 Articles

    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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