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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.

Habemus Boda, 2004

“Habemus Boda” deck celebrating the royal wedding of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain with cartoons by Sir Cámara

Habemus Boda deck celebrating the royal wedding of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain on 22 May 2004 with cartoons by Sir Cámara. The four aces and 12 court cards feature satirical caricatures of the royal family and politicians from various parties. This is the 2nd edition with advertising backs for Ron Brugal, manufactured by Heraclio Fournier for interviú magazine. The actual ceremony was watched by 25 million people in Spain alone, with many more tuning in to view the nuptials from home.

“Habemus Boda” deck celebrating the royal wedding of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain on 22 May 2004 with cartoons by Sir Cámara “Habemus Boda” deck celebrating the royal wedding of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain on 22 May 2004 with cartoons by Sir Cámara “Habemus Boda” deck celebrating the royal wedding of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain on 22 May 2004 with cartoons by Sir Cámara “Habemus Boda” deck celebrating the royal wedding of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain on 22 May 2004 with cartoons by Sir Cámara

Above: “Habemus Boda” deck celebrating the royal wedding of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain on 22 May 2004 with cartoons by Sir Cámara. 2nd edition with advertising backs for Ron Brugal, 40 cards in box manufactured by Heraclio Fournier for interviú magazine.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

Recommended

Dutch costume playing cards

Dutch costume playing cards

Dutch costume playing cards made for the Dutch market in the second half of the 19th century.

Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.

Panko

Panko

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

Pato Donald

Pato Donald

Donald Duck card game © Walt Disney Productions, by Naipes Fournier, 1984.

Werbung die Sticht

Werbung die Sticht

“Werbung die Sticht” deck with artwork by Fritz Bünzli to promote advertising on playing cards by AG Müller 1982.

Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget

The Adventures of Inspector Gadget quartet game published by Fournier in 1983.

Periquito y Tontín Dominoes

Periquito y Tontín Dominoes

Periquito y Tontín Dominoes, featuring Feliz and Bonzo, 1920s.

Christmas Playing Cards

Christmas Playing Cards

Christmas Playing Cards published by Novelty Playing Cards, Syracuse, New York, 1986.

Loriot Rummy

Loriot Rummy

Delightful comical deck designed by Loriot, the German cartoonist and comedian, 1973.

Hamm’s Beer

Hamm’s Beer

Hamm’s Beer promotion deck with bear cartoons by Frank M. Antoncich 1968.

Victory

Victory

“Victory" cards celebrating U.S. participation in the Allied victory, c.1945.

Dynastie Royale de Belgique

Dynastie Royale de Belgique

Dynastie Royale de Belgique by Mesmaekers, 1934.

A Royal Game

A Royal Game

A Royal Game featuring Queen Victoria’s children and extended family, published by A. Collier, London, c.1896.

Biff! Bang!! Wallop!!!

Biff! Bang!! Wallop!!!

Biff! Bang!! Wallop!!! family card game published by H.P. Gibson & Sons Ltd, 1939.

Capilettor

Capilettor

Capilettor cartoon playing cards published by VASS, Leinfelden, 1978.

Crown the Queen

Crown the Queen

Crown the Queen card game invented by Elaine Burton, c.1953.

Woman’s Hour

Woman’s Hour

The Woman’s Hour playing cards published by David Westnedge, 1996.

Flintstones Happy Families

Flintstones Happy Families

Flintstones Happy Families by J. W. Spear and Sons, c.1960.

Kings & Queens of England Misfitz

Kings & Queens of England Misfitz

Kings & Queens of England Misfitz, c.1918.

Atouts de la Vie

Atouts de la Vie

“Atouts de la Vie” wartime card game created by Madame Lucien Willemetz, c.1940.

Happy Families

Happy Families

Happy Families by Norvic Mill, c.1920s.

The Royal Historical Game of Cards

The Royal Historical Game of Cards

The Royal Historical Game of Cards invented by Jane Roberts and published by Robert Hardwicke, c.1840.

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots and other Tudor period dignitaries, published by Piatnik, 1990.

Shuffled Symphonies

Shuffled Symphonies

Shuffled Symphonies published by Pepys Games in association with Walt Disney, 1939.

Naipes Parliament por Caloi

Naipes Parliament por Caloi

Carlos Loiseau, better known as ‘Caloi’, was a cartoonist whose designs for Parliament Cigarettes were first published in the early 1970s.

World Leaders Snap

World Leaders Snap

World Leaders Snap published around WW2, c.1940.

Mickey’s Fun Fair

Mickey’s Fun Fair

Mickey’s Fun Fair published by Pepys Games in collaboration with Walt Disney, 1939.

Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver’s Travels by Pepys Games, based on the cartoon film, 1940.

Queen’s Silver Jubilee 1977

Queen’s Silver Jubilee 1977

Queen’s Silver Jubilee playing cards designed by Susan Rae for John Wadddington Ltd, 1977

Hide & Seek with the Kings & Queens of England

Hide & Seek with the Kings & Queens of England

Hide & Seek with the Kings & Queens of England by John Jaques & Son, c.1875.

Rois de France

Rois de France

Cartes des Rois de France (1644) facsimile edition by Edizioni del Solleone, 1986.

Mordillo Skat

Mordillo Skat

Mordillo Skat designed by Guillermo Mordillo, c.1979

August der Starke

August der Starke

‘August der Starke und seine Zeit’ designed by Günter Schmitz, 1985.

Lapin Brothers

Lapin Brothers

Reprint of Lapin’s Historical Belarusian playing cards.

Jeu des Quatre Saisons de l’An II

Jeu des Quatre Saisons de l’An II

“Jeu des Quatre Saisons de l’An II” facsimile of French Revolution deck originally published by J. B. Debeine (Reims) 1793.

Naked Truth

Naked Truth

“Naked Truth” Playing Politics with caricatures by Jason Pratt, 1997

Jungle Parties

Jungle Parties

“Jungle Parties” or “Playing Politics '87” designed & drawn by Patrick Cuenot.

Boerenbond Veevoeders

Boerenbond Veevoeders

Promotional deck designed by Ray Goossens for the Boerenbond farmers’ union, c.1968.

Löwen Entertainment

Löwen Entertainment

Skat deck for Löwen Entertainment, producers of electronic gaming machines, 1986

Geprüfte Sicherheit

Geprüfte Sicherheit

Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Accident Research, 1978