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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.

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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.

The latest articles from Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

J. W. Spear and Sons

Jacob Wolfe Spear founded his company manufacturing fancy goods in 1879 near Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany • May 22, 2021

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. • May 22, 2021

Multum in Parvo Co., Ltd

Multum in Parvo published a range of indoor games during the period from 1884-1927. • May 22, 2021

Ariel Productions Ltd

The founder of Ariel Productions, Philip Marx, was a prolific publisher of children’s books and comics towards the end of and just after the Second World War. • May 22, 2021

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games

Kum-Bak Sports, Toys & Games MFG Co., Ltd, London S.E.11 • May 22, 2021

Crazy People

Crazy People children’s card game illustrated by caricaturist and graphic artist Walter Trier, c.1950. • May 21, 2021

Panko

Panko (Votes for Women) suffragette card game published by Peter Gurney Ltd, c.1912. • May 15, 2021

Snap

Anonymous Snap game, 1930s. • May 14, 2021

Lion Coffee

Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th C. • May 12, 2021

Panto People

Panto People published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s. • May 11, 2021

Hats-Off!

Hats-Off! miniature card game published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s. • May 10, 2021

Zoo-Boots

Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s. • May 09, 2021

XIXth Century

The XIXth Century published by John Jaques & Son, c.1875. • May 03, 2021

The ‘Rinker’ Snap

The ‘Rinker’ highly amusing snap game, c.1910. • Apr 29, 2021

Fortune Telling

Fortune Telling cards by Whitman Publishing Co., 1940. • Apr 28, 2021

Österreichisches Trachten-quartett

Österreichisches Trachten-quartett Nr.282 published by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne. • Apr 18, 2021

Round the World Happy Families

Round the World Happy Families by Chiefton Products Ltd of Bristol, c.1950s. • Apr 17, 2021

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes

Geschichte des Buchgewerbes illustrated by Ludwig Winkler, published by Verlag für Lehrmittel Pößneck. • Apr 16, 2021

So Fängt Es An

“So Fängt Es An” beautifully illustrated by M. Neugebauer, published by Helingsche Verlagsanstalt, c.1950. • Apr 15, 2021

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Toys Animal Families, c.1970. • Apr 10, 2021

La Sibylle des Salons

La Sibylle des Salons facsimile of 19th century deck published by J M Simon, 1979. • Apr 03, 2021

Verkehrsmittel Einst und Jetzt

“Verkehrsmittel Einst und Jetzt” transport quartet game by Bielefelder Spielkarten Fabrik GmbH, 1958. • Apr 02, 2021

Asterix Abenteuer

Asterix Adventure quartet game by ASS, 1989. • Apr 01, 2021

Vargas Girls

‘Vargas Girls’ paintings by Alberto Vargas in a deck of cards published by Creative Playing Card Co Missouri. • Mar 27, 2021

The Art of Pin-Up decks

Feminine beauty has been appreciated since prehistory. • Mar 22, 2021

Portraits of a Lady

Portraits of a Lady by Lo Scarabeo, 2003. • Mar 21, 2021

French for Fun

French for Fun instructive card game published by John Jaques & Son Ltd., c.1930s • Mar 19, 2021

Eurotrotter

Eurotrotter by La Ducale, c.1980s. • Mar 17, 2021

Schwarzer Peter no.964

Schwarzer Peter no.964 published by Josef Hohlweg, Vienna, early 20th century. • Mar 16, 2021

Counties of Britain

Counties of Britain by John Jaques & Son Ltd. c.1930. • Mar 16, 2021

Alice

Alice with artwork by Jesús Blasco, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003. • Mar 07, 2021

Radio Banker

Radio Banker by John Waddington Ltd for Marconiphone Co Ltd. • Mar 02, 2021

Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien

‘Tout Est Bien Qui Finit Bien’ family card game by Dondorf. • Mar 01, 2021

Pulp Pin-Up

Classic 1940s Pulp Pin-Up covers on playing cards from China, c.2010. • Feb 28, 2021

Liberty

Liberty playing cards designed by Antonella Castelli, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2003. • Feb 28, 2021

Il Circo

Il Circo illustrated by Jules Garnier, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2004. • Feb 27, 2021

William Tell

Facsimile of Swiss William Tell deck from c.1870 published by Lo Scarabeo. • Feb 26, 2021

Luxus Skatkarte Nr.1134

Luxus Skatkarte Nr.1134 printed by Brepols for Germany, c.1940s. • Feb 26, 2021

Römihártya

Römihártya pin-up deck from Hungary. • Feb 26, 2021

Zwarte Piet

Zwarte Piet by Dondorf for the Dutch market, 1906. • Feb 25, 2021

Jigstar

Jigstar film star card game by Murphy Games Ltd, 1936. • Feb 24, 2021

Black Peter

Black Peter card game designed by Willy Mayrl for Piatnik. • Feb 20, 2021

Corrida de Toros

Bull fighting card game publshed by Naipes Comas, 1969. • Feb 18, 2021

Countries of Empire

“Countries of Empire” published by John Jaques & Son Ltd, c.1930s. • Feb 16, 2021

Majas Alfabets Spel

Majas Alfabets Spel beautifully illustrated by Lena Andersson, 1980s. • Feb 14, 2021

Gulliver im Land der Zwerge

Gulliver in the Land of Dwarfs quartet published by Verlag für Lehrmittel, Pößneck. • Feb 14, 2021

El Gato con Botas

Puss in Boots card game manufactured by H. Fournier, 1981. • Feb 13, 2021

Anma US Armed Forces

Anma US Armed Forces, 1942. • Feb 11, 2021

Gas Warm Homes

Gas Warm Homes Happy Families game published by British Gas, c.1980. • Feb 10, 2021

Bass & Bass Jeu des Familles

Bass & Bass ‘Jeu des Familles’ made by Franz-Josef Holler, Münich, 1989. • Feb 09, 2021