Originally published as “Slavonic Cards No.501” by The Colour Printing Plant, St. Petersburg, in the 1920s and printed by chromolithography (right) these Russian playing cards depict strong and vivid costumes of Ancient Russia.
They have been republished many times since then by various manufacturers for different European markets, with or without frames and with several alternative Jokers and back designs.
Some loss in the quality of the original artwork can be noted in more recent re-prints.
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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.
Dolls Gallery / Galereia kukol : karty igral’nye / published by Varvara Skripkina, 2003.
Treasures of the Russian Museum / Russkii Muzei : suvenirnye igral’nye karty.
Rossiia / Municipal Coats-of-Arms of Russian Federation.
The first nested doll set was carved in 1890.
Palekh and Kholui lacquer miniatures.
Playing cards in Russian life - Karty v zhizni Rossii - published by Aleksandr Lutkovskii in 2004.
Spot the Difference playing cards published in "Razvlekatel’naia Gazetka" newspaper, 1998-1999.
Samye malen’kie v mire igral’nye karty / The world’s smallest playing cards
Hunting playing cards / “Okhotnich’i karty” with illustrations by the court artist Mihály Zichy.
Russian Emperors playing cards / “Rossiiskie imperatory karty igral’nye” produced and illustrated by Aleksei Orleanskii, 2006.
Russian Beer playing cards / “Russkoe pivo karty igral’nye” produced in 2006
Dead Souls, or “Mertvye dushi igral’nye karty” produced in 2006 by Aleksei Orleanskii.
Andalusian playing cards designed by Marifé Montoya Carrillo with booklet by Jorge Lirola Delgado, 2012.
Tiny 19th.century ‘Cartes Mignonnes’ playing cards depicting the fashions of the period
54 colour photographs of costumes and artefacts connected with the Inca civilisation, unknown publisher, Arequipa, Peru.
Portuguese regional costumes published by the French division of Banco Pinto & Sotto Mayor.
Rock paintings and engravings of the San people, better known as the “Bushmen”.
Playing cards featuring traditional folk costumes from Romania.
Another pack of Dutch costume playing cards c.1880.
Original designs from the French overseas department of Martinique by local artist Martine Porry.
Cheerful, colourful designs on handmade paper from Nepal.
Estonian national costumes and everyday items feature on this pack made in Estonia.
A colourful pack of round cards with Ganjifa designs by Asha Industries, Mumbai, India, 2002.
Pack designed for La Maison de L’Artisanat Ltée, Mauritius, by Hervé de Cotter.
Non-standard designs on Nepalese handmade paper for Pilgrims Book House, Kathmandu, Nepal, c.2000.
Dutch costume playing cards made for the Dutch market in the second half of the 19th century.
The first of two decks designed by Ukrainian illustrator Vladislav Erko for “Korchma Taras Bulba” restaurant which serves traditional Ukrainian cuisine
This deck is named after Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu (1585-1642), a French Roman Catholic Clergyman and statesman, Chief Adviser to King Louis XIII, noted for the authoritarian measures he employed to maintain power.
Schweizer Trachten No.174 (Costumes Suisses) by Dondorf.
In this newsletter we’re looking at how fashion and costume is represented through playing card art since the 14th century through to today.
Folk Cards designed by Krystyna Gruchalska-Bunsch for Lot Polish Airlines, 1962.
‘History of fashion’ cultural quartet game designed by Erika Werner-Nestler, 1954.
Dutch costumes quartet game designed by Gerard Huijg, 1983.
Österreichisches Trachten-quartett Nr.282 published by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne.
Irish Legendary deck featuring figures in the Legends of Ireland, designed by Rachel Arbuckle, 1990.
Chinese Costumes from the Winterthur Collection, published by Fournier, 1984.
Ethiopian playing cards designed for the Ethiopian Tourist Organization by Afewerk Teklé.
Baraja Tonalamatl Mexican Aztec playing cards based on the prehispanic Codex Borgia manuscript.
Spear’s “Fancy Dress Ball” card game with children dressed in period costumes, 1930s.
Bathing Beauties throughout the ages, published in Hungary, 1967.