The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published July 06, 2011 Updated October 24, 2022

Playing Cards in Singapore

Playing Cards in Singapore, one of the Four Asian Tigers.

China Singapore Add to Collection

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.

Above: street exhibition in Singapore of extra-large playing-cards depicting local tourist destinations with illustrations by Yasuko Senshu. Also published as a normal pack of cards by Mariposa Pte Ltd. Photograph by Adam Wintle.

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”

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 →

SEE ALSO:   Hokkien Four Colour Cards     :::     Mahjongg Cards     :::     Minnie Patience Cards     :::     Hee Trading Co.     :::     Chinese Fortune Telling Cards


“Old Maid”

Old Maid game by Hee Trading, Malaysia, 1984

Above: “Old Maid” children's card game from a range of games manufactured by Hee Trading Co., Malaysia, 1984. These cards have been used in Singapore for about 50 years and have become naturalised there. Images kindly supplied by Anthony Lee.


“Singapore Airlines”

deck of cards given to passengers by Singapore Airlines

Above: deck of cards given to passengers by Singapore Airlines. The pattern is clearly a non-standard one, but note some hints of the traditional english pattern shining through: the King of Hearts still is depicted with the sword behind his head. The deck is of 56 cards: 52 cards with 4 identical jokers. Images kindly supplied by Anthony Lee.

Souvenir of Singapore Airlines

Above: souvenir of Singapore Airlines, 52 cards + 4 jokers in box (click to zoom). Images courtesy Matt Probert.


“Singapore Souvenir” Playing Cards

Above: Singapore souvenir playing cards, 52 cards + 2 jokers in special tin, published by Intersection & Union, © I & U.

Above: Souvenir of Singapore playing cards featuring the Merlion on the jokers and reverse. Unknown manufacturer. Images courtesy Matt Probert.


Minnie patience cards, Singapore

Right: box from Minnie patience-sized playing cards from Singapore, manufactured in China   see more →

See also:   Minnie Patience CardsMahjongg CardsHokkien Four Colour CardsChinese Playing CardsChinese Fortune Telling CardsSouvenir Playing CardsHee Trading Co., MalaysiaNew Zealand Pictorial Playing CardsFenno Products, PeruVic Joc de Cartes, 1990World Wide Fund for Nature-India

avatar
1440 Articles

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder 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.


Related Articles

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

A limited edition art print of the 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.

2022 Pixel Tarot

Pixel Tarot

This tarot deck pays tribute to the golden age of pixelated video games, drawing inspiration from th...

1962 Souvenir of Singapore, Malaya and Borneo

Souvenir of Singapore, Malaya and Borneo

52 different colour pictures of Singapore, Malaya and Borneo from the early 1960s.

Chinese Opera Masks Playing Cards   脸谱

Chinese Opera Masks Playing Cards 脸谱

Three different packs of cards featuring traditional Chinese face painting and Chinese opera masks.

2022 TikTok Tarot

TikTok Tarot

TikTok Tarot is a unique tarot deck that puts a modern spin on the Rider-Waite format; with TikTok-i...

1896 Chinese Money-Suited Playing Cards from the British Museum

Chinese Money-Suited Playing Cards from the British Museum

This deck of Chinese playing cards, donated to the British Museum in 1896, is believed to have been ...

2020 Acelion Cyberpunk Playing Cards

Acelion Cyberpunk Playing Cards

This cyberpunk deck by Acelion combines magic and science fiction elements, inspired by Nordic mytho...

SilkAir

SilkAir

SilkAir was a Singaporean regional airline and a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Trump

Singapore Trump

“Singapore Trump” playing cards designed by Yasuko Senshu.

2010 Pulp Pin-Up

Pulp Pin-Up

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

2019 Diaoyu Poker 8068

Diaoyu Poker 8068

8068 by Diaoyu Poker (China) 2019.

1984 Chinese Costumes

Chinese Costumes

Chinese Costumes from the Winterthur Collection, published by Fournier, 1984.

1895 Khanhoo

Khanhoo

Khanhoo by Charles Goodall & Son, 1895.

Chinese Jokers

Chinese Jokers

Chinese playing card makers have probably produced the widest variety of jokers of any single part o...

1970 Characters of “The Water Margin”

Characters of “The Water Margin”

Characters from the Chinese novel “The Water Margin” - 水滸撲克.

2016 Hogwarts

Hogwarts

Harry Potter Hogwarts playing cards, c.2016.

1900 Tô Tôm №1204

Tô Tôm №1204

Tô Tôm is played with a 120-card Chinese-style deck.

1980 Far East

Far East

Far East playing cards with designs by Isabel Ibáñez de Sendadiano, c.1980.

1998 The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace, Beijing, China, c.1998.

Maxi Puke 201 Circus Poker

Maxi Puke 201 Circus Poker

Maxi Puke 201 Circus Poker brand produced by Wenyu Paper Products, Shanghai.

57: China 3

57: China 3

A third and final look at some Chinese cards.

Hakka

Hakka

“Double Happiness” brand Hakka [客家] playing cards used by Hakka ethnic communities who have a separa...

55: China 2

55: China 2

Some further American designs used in China.

Tam Cúc  三菊

Tam Cúc 三菊

Tam Cúc playing cards from Vietnam (Việt Nam), based on Chinese chess, 2016

54: China 1

54: China 1

Although many people would not consider Chinese cards worth collecting, the huge variety of court de...

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines A330 flying experience souvenir playing cards

2010 Lucky Buddha Beer

Lucky Buddha Beer

Deck made in China in c.2010 advertising the Chinese brew “Lucky Beer, the enlightened beer”

Terracotta Army

Terracotta Army

Each card has a different photo of elements of the terracotta army whose purpose was to protect the ...

Magic Poker Cards

Magic Poker Cards

“Magic Poker Cards” are often found inside Christmas crackers along with party hats, puzzles and jok...

Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Qin

Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Qin

“Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Qin” collectible playing cards, made in China, c.2010.

2005 Chinese Roles of Beijing Opera

Chinese Roles of Beijing Opera

A very impressive deck of cards featuring 54 different images from “Chinese Roles of Beijing Opera” ...

1900 Four Colour Cards / 四色牌 / Si Sek Pai

Four Colour Cards / 四色牌 / Si Sek Pai

Four Colour Cards made in Belgium for Far Eastern markets

Chinese Dragon Robes

Chinese Dragon Robes

Deck featuring 54 different images of Chinese Dragon Robes that emperors, empresses and royal family...

1890 Chi Chi Pai

Chi Chi Pai

Chinese “Chi Chi Pai” Playing Cards by Mesmaekers Frères for Far East market.

1974 Mao Zedong & International Friends

Mao Zedong & International Friends

Playing cards celebrating the story of the Chinese leader and statesman Chairman Mao / Mao Zedong & ...

2015 Mantecore Playing Cards

Mantecore Playing Cards

Mantecore playing cards, named as a tribute to magicians Siegfried and Roy's famous tiger, 2015.

Titicaca ® Playing Cards

Titicaca ® Playing Cards

Each card in this novelty deck, subtitled “Funny Card”, carries information about a prestigious or p...

1999 Mad Jack Miracle Pack

Mad Jack Miracle Pack

Mad Jack Miracle Pack by Chu’s Magic (Tobar) 1999.

Li River Souvenir

Li River Souvenir

Li River Souvenir Playing Cards from China.

Hokkien Four Colour Cards

Hokkien Four Colour Cards

The characters on the cards are written one way for red and yellow, and another for green and white....

3: 20th/21st Century Variants including some from China

3: 20th/21st Century Variants including some from China

I expect most collectors ignore cards made in China for export. It's true that many of them are clos...