Singapore had been a part of various local empires since it was first inhabited in the second century AD. It hosted a trading post of the East India Company in 1819 with permission from the Sultanate of Johor. The British obtained sovereignty over the island in 1824 and Singapore became one of the British Straits Settlements in 1826. Occupied by the Japanese in World War II, Singapore declared independence, uniting with other former British territories to form Malaysia in 1963, although it was separated from Malaysia two years later. Since then it has had a massive increase in wealth, and is one of the Four Asian Tigers.
Singapore is a multi-racial city. Various Chinese linguistic groups form 75.2% of Singapore's residents, Malays 13.6%, Indians 8.8%, while Eurasians, Arabs and other groups form 2.4%. This is reflected in the Singapore Souvenir playing cards shown below, which features colour photographs of mosques, Hindu and Buddhist temples, hotels, museums, parks and gardens, formula 1 racing, chinatown, etc.
Double Elephant Brand Four Colour Cards
These cards are called "四色牌" in chinese, a term that literally translates as "four colour cards". These cards are relatively common in the country, and are used to play a rummy-like game. The deck has 112 cards, namely seven ranks in four colours, each card having four copies of itself. The cards pictured here are manufactured by the "double elephant" brand in Hong Kong, and are of slightly higher quality than the more common "double dragon" brand, although more expensive. This deck is the most common variety, although there exist other, rarer varieties, like ones with an extra five cards (I am informed that these are jokers), and a curious incarnation which goes under the name of 十五湖牌 (fifteen lake cards) which are the cards engraved on mahjong tiles, see more →
Singapore Souvenir Playing Cards
See also: Minnie Patience Cards • Mahjongg Cards • Hokkien Four Colour Cards • Chinese Playing Cards • Chinese Fortune Telling Cards • Souvenir Playing Cards • Hee Trading Co., Malaysia • New Zealand Pictorial Playing Cards • Fenno Products, Peru • Vic Joc de Cartes, 1990 • World Wide Fund for Nature-India
Member since February 01, 1996View Articles
Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.
Classic 1940s Pulp Pin-Up covers on playing cards from China, c.2010.
8068 by Diaoyu Poker (China) 2019.
Chinese Costumes from the Winterthur Collection, published by Fournier, 1984.
Khanhoo by Charles Goodall & Son, 1895.
Chinese playing card makers have probably produced the widest variety of jokers of any single part of the world.
Characters from the Chinese novel “The Water Margin” - 水滸撲克.
Harry Potter Hogwarts playing cards, c.2016.
Tô Tôm is played with a 120-card Chinese-style deck.
The Summer Palace, Beijing, China, c.1998.
Maxi Puke 201 Circus Poker brand produced by Wenyu Paper Products, Shanghai.
A third and final look at some Chinese cards.
“Double Happiness” brand Hakka [客家] playing cards used by Hakka ethnic communities who have a separate identity from Cantonese,
Some further American designs used in China.
Tam Cúc playing cards from Vietnam, based on Chinese chess, 2016
Although many people would not consider Chinese cards worth collecting, the huge variety of court designs used by the companies based in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan over the years should be of interest to those who like to enjoy variation in court cards, jokers and aces of spades.
Singapore Airlines A330 flying experience souvenir playing cards
Deck made in China in c.2010 advertising the Chinese brew “Lucky Beer, the enlightened beer”
Each card has a different photo of elements of the terracotta army whose purpose was to protect the emperor Qin Shi Huang in his afterlife.
“Magic Poker Cards” are often found inside Christmas crackers along with party hats, puzzles and jokes...
“Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Qin” collectible playing cards, made in China, c.2010.
A very impressive deck of cards featuring 54 different images from “Chinese Roles of Beijing Opera” published by HCG Poker Productions, 2005
Four Colour Cards made in Belgium for Far Eastern markets
Deck featuring 54 different images of Chinese Dragon Robes that emperors, empresses and royal family members wear on important occasions.
Chinese “Chi Chi Pai” Playing Cards by Mesmaekers Frères for Far East market, c.1890.
Playing cards celebrating the story of the Chinese leader and statesman Chairman Mao / Mao Zedong & International Friends.
Mantecore playing cards, named as a tribute to magicians Siegfried and Roy's famous tiger, 2015.
Mr. Men™ & Little Miss™ playing cards by Roger Hargreaves
Each card in this novelty deck, subtitled “Funny Card”, carries information about a prestigious or popular brand.
Mad Jack Miracle Pack by Chu’s Magic (Tobar) 1999.
Li River Souvenir Playing Cards from China.
The characters on the cards are written one way for red and yellow, and another for green and white. They are: 將 士 象 車 馬 包 兵 for white and green; 帥 仕 相 俥 傌 炮 卒 for red and yellow.
I expect most collectors ignore cards made in China for export. It's true that many of them are close copies of American models, but there are also some interesting, even peculiar, redrawings of the standard English pattern.
One of an extensive range of Chinese historical, art and culture playing cards, Three Kingdoms playing cards describes the historical story of the Three Kingdoms period, the political and military struggles between the contending rulers.
Mini-Poker miniature playing cards made in China.
Playing Cards from Hong Kong. A large proportion of the world's souvenir and pin-up playing cards originate from Hong Kong.
Angry Birds UNO manufactured in China, 2003.
UNO Indonesian edition, licensed by Mattel for sale in Far Eastern countries, 2011
Plants vs. Zombies UNO card set Chinese edition, licensed by Mattel East Asia Limited, 2011.
Fortune Telling Cards - wondrous scientific divination poker cards.
Minnie Patience. The backs show images of Mickey & Minnie mouse dancing together.