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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.

Anti-Religions

The Russians were no strangers to propaganda cards. Clubs represent the Russian Orthodox church, Hearts Roman Catholicism, Spades Confucianism and Diamonds represent Judaism.

Russian “Anti-Religions” Playing Cards
Religion will always be controversial...

An interesting propaganda pack depicting the various religions of the Soviet Empire. Clubs represent the Russian Orthodox church, Hearts Roman Catholicism, Spades Confucianism and Diamonds represent Judaism. The Joker is depicted as a top-hatted Capitalist holding the strings of the four religions. The Russians were no strangers to propaganda cards. The Bolsheviks tried to distribute these anti-Religion playing cards at the 1933 Chicago “Century of Progress” World’s Fair. Printed in chromolithography by the Soviet Union State Playing Card Monopoly, early 1930s.

Russian “Anti-Religions” Playing Cards printed by chromolithography, 1930s Russian “Anti-Religions” Joker

Above and right: Russian “Anti-Religions” Playing Cards, each suit relating to a religion, printed by chromolithography, 1930s. 52 cards + the Joker, depicted as a top-hatted Capitalist holding the strings of the four religions. The backs show a horned face masque design and Star of David in red or blue and white; silvered edges. Images courtesy Barney Townshend.

See also:  Anti-fascist Propaganda

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By Barney Townshend

Member since October 06, 2015

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Retired Airline Pilot, interested in: Transformation Playing Cards, Karl Gerich and Elaine Lewis. Secretary of the EPCS. Treasurer of the IPCS.

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