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Published July 23, 2015 Updated April 11, 2022

Modern Aces of Spades

Many modern aces of spades are anonymous so that, in the absence of any other information, the collector has difficulty deciding who made them.

Aces Anonymous Art & Design

Above: aces of spades usually carry the manufacturer's name.

On English packs the design and wording on the ace of spades will tell you the maker’s name and, until 1860, the amount of tax paid. Taxation on playing cards was a form of protectionism and a means of raising revenues for the Exchequer, but ultimately the amount received from playing card duty was less than the cost of administering the tax. In his budget speech on 4th April 1960 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the decision to abolish the excise duty on playing cards in the UK. After this time the ace of spades remained a maker’s identification device with a more elaborate design than the other three aces, but no longer represented any tax or duty paid to the treasury.

For History of the Ace of Spades, see

American manufacturers have also tended to follow the English tradition of an elaborate ace of spades as a trade mark or manufacturer’s badge.

However, some makers produce custom packs for third parties, either as promotional items (eg: Haig whisky, Simpsons etc) or on behalf of other companies (Wills Cigarettes, Dubreq etc) and the ace of spades may or may not be informative. Some generic designs are copied and used by various makers, hence duplicate images assigned to different makers. Some makers have been taken over or otherwise ceased trading only for their designs to be adopted by other companies.

Consequently a large number of modern aces of spades are anonymous so that, in the absence of any other information, the collector has difficulty deciding who made it. In addition, Chinese card factories were all formerly owned by the state, and as such packs did not carry a maker's name, simply 'China'.


Above: Butterfly 102 brand, made in China

Above: Tiger 2004 brand, made in China

Above: Butterfly 202 brand, made in China

Above: Elephant 505 brand, based on Waddington's ace of spades but made in China

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Above: China

Above: China

Above: China

Above: China

Above: China

Above: Giraffe 800 brand, China

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Above: Alf Cooke (UK)

Above: Alf Cooke (UK)

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Above: Altenburger Stralsunder (Germany)

Above: Altenburger Stralsunder (Germany)

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Above: Artex (Hungary)

Above: Astra Games (UK) 1982-87

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Above: OTK (Czech) for Bancroft & Partners Ltd (UK)

Above: Berliner Spielkarten (Germany)

Above: Berliner Spielkarten (Germany)

Above: Léonard Biermans, Belgium

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Above: Brown & Bigelow (USA)

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Above: Carta Mundi (Belgium)

Above: Carta Mundi (Belgium)

Above: Carta Mundi (Belgium)

Above: Carta Mundi (Belgium)

Above: Carta Mundi (Belgium)

Above: Carta Mundi (Belgium)

Above: Catel & Farcy (France)

Above: Hong Kong / China

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Above: Dal Negro (Italy)

Above: Revelation Playing Cards (USA)

Above: B. Dondorf (Germany)

Above: La Ducale (France)

Above: China

Above: China

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Above: China

Above: China

Above: Faustino Solesio (Italy)

Above: China

Above: China

Above: F.X. Schmid (Germany)

Above: F.X. Schmid (Germany)

Above: China

Above: Japanese.

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Above: China

Above: Goodall & Son (UK)

Above: Goodall & Son (UK)

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Above: Grimaud (France)

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Above: Hearts Playing Cards (NL)

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Above: Heraclio Fournier (Spain)

Above: Heron (France)

Above: House of Marbles

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Above: Brickwoods, The Portsmouth Brewery, c.1960-70

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Above: King Arthur’s Knights playing cards designed by Mauri Kunnas, Finland

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Above: La Turnhoutoise (Belgium)

Above: Legends P.C.Co

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Above: China

Above: China

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Above: Mardon, Son & Hall (UK)

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Above: Metro (India)

Above: OTK, Czechoslovakia

Above: Paulson (USA)

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Above: Piatnik (Austria)

Above: Piatnik (Austria)

Above: Piatnik (Austria)

Above: Piatnik (Austria)

Above: Piatnik (Austria)

Above: Malaysia

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Above: Richard Edward (UK)

Above: Ritter/OTK (Czech)

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Above: Shamrock Gift Co (Made in China)

Above: Shamrock Gift Co (Made in China)

Above: China

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Above: Smiley World

Above: Spears Games

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Above: Spicers Paper Ltd (Australia)

Above: Spicers Paper Ltd (Australia)

Above: Germany

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Above: De la Rue & Co (UK)

Above: De la Rue & Co (UK)

Above: De la Rue & Co (UK)

Above: De la Rue & Co (UK)

Above: De la Rue & Co (UK)

Above: De la Rue & Co (UK)

Above: De la Rue & Co (UK)

Above: De la Rue & Co (UK)

Above: Danish pack.

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Above: USPCC

Above: “Cultúrlán” Celtic myth playing cards, USPCC

Above: USPCC

Above: USPCC

Above: USPCC

Above: USPCC

Above: USPCC

Above: USPCC

Above: Van Genechten (Belgium)

Above: Veekay

Above: Waddington's (UK)

Above: The Simpsons published by Winning Moves Games, made by Waddington's (UK)

Above: Waddington's (UK)

Above: Waddington's (UK)

Above: Waddington's (UK)

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By Matt Probert

Member since March 02, 2012

View Articles

I have adored playing cards since before I was seven years old, and was brought up on packs of Waddington's No 1. As a child I was fascinated by the pictures of the court cards.

Over the next fifty years I was seduced by the artwork in Piatnik's packs and became a collector of playing cards.

Seeking more information about various unidentified packs I discovered the World of Playing Cards website and became an enthusiastic contributor researching and documenting different packs of cards.

I describe my self as a playing card archaeologist, using detective work to identify and date obscure packs of cards discovered in old houses, flea markets and car boot sales.


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