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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.

Art for the Earth

“Art for the Earth” Transformation Deck published by Andrew Jones Art for Friends of the Earth, c.1990.

“Art for the Earth” Transformation pack published by Andrew Jones Art for Friends of the Earth, c.1990, featuring fifty-four transformed playing cards by different artists. See the Key card

“Art for the Earth” Transformation Deck published by Andrew Jones Art for Friends of the Earth, c.1990 “Art for the Earth” Transformation Deck published by Andrew Jones Art for Friends of the Earth, c.1990

Above: “Art for the Earth” Transformation Deck published by Andrew Jones Art for Friends of the Earth, c.1990. 52 cards + extra card in box, printed by Carta Mundi. Each card has been transformed by a different artist / illustrator.

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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

The Kiss, 1808

The Kiss, 1808

‘Aphorisms on the Kiss’ published by C. A. Solbrig, Leipzig, 1808.

Black Peter

Black Peter

Two Black Peter games by Willy Mayrl published by Ferd Piatnik & Söhne, 1950s.

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Transformation Cards for Christmas

Hand-drawn Transformation cards, c.1870.

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards

Bosch Puzzle Playing Cards by Sunish Chabba, 2020.

Zoo-Boots

Zoo-Boots

Zoo-Boots published by E. S. & A. Robinson, c.1930s.

So Fängt Es An

So Fängt Es An

“So Fängt Es An” beautifully illustrated by M. Neugebauer, published by Helingsche Verlagsanstalt, c.1950.

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Animal Families

Abbatt Toys Animal Families, c.1970.

Corrida de Toros

Corrida de Toros

Bull fighting card game publshed by Naipes Comas, 1969.

The Bristol Pack

The Bristol Pack

The Bristol Pack, an exhibition of playing cards designed by Bristol artists, 2005.

Zooloo Misfitz

Zooloo Misfitz

Zooloo Misfitz card game designed by George Lambert for C.W. Faulkner & Co, c.1907.

Eroticartes

Eroticartes

Eroticartes with drawings by Pino Zac, 1983.

Curator

Curator

The Curator Deck with designs by Emmanuel José with suit symbols cleverly transformed into artistic designs.

Sapra Studio Original

Sapra Studio Original

Sapra Studio Original playing cards featuring wild animals of S Africa, 1999.

Natuurkwartet

Natuurkwartet

Nature Quartet game published by Staatsbosbeheer, printed by Roem Speelkaarten, Kampen.

Botany Quartetts

Botany Quartetts

Botany card game published by Houlston and Wright & Henry Greenwood, c.1860.

Snap

Snap

Snap card game illustrated with animals, by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen

Deutsche Nutzpflanzen - Quartett game promoting Kali brand crop fertilizer, 1938.

Schwarzer Peter Der Wald und seine Leute

Schwarzer Peter Der Wald und seine Leute

Schwarzer Peter the Forest and its People, illustrated by Liesel Lauterborn, 1955.

Avilude or Game of Birds

Avilude or Game of Birds

Avilude or Game of Birds published by West & Lee, Worcester, Mass, c.1880.

Mr Bok

Mr Bok

The Merry Game of Mr Bok and his Happy Families, promoting Bok furniture polish, 1930s.

Greenpeace

Greenpeace

Campaign deck for Greenpeace with drawings of penguins, seals, whales and dolphins.

Flora

Flora

‘Flora’ card game published by C.W. Faulkner, printed by Dondorf, 1903.

Animal Misfitz

Animal Misfitz

Animal Misfitz designed by George Lambert for Faulkner Games, c.1900.

Carousel Playing Cards

Carousel Playing Cards

Carousel Playing Cards commissioned by Tesco stores, 2019.

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair No.41 Playing Cards by the United States Playing Card Co, 1895. All the number cards have been imaginatively transformed.

Friendly Felines

Friendly Felines

‘Friendly Felines’ playing cards designed by Azured Ox, 2017.

National Geographic Nature

National Geographic Nature

National Geographic Nature playing cards, 2006.

Fungi Mycological Playing Cards

Fungi Mycological Playing Cards

Mystic Mushrooms Playing Cards, 2018.

Gerrymanders

Gerrymanders

Gerrymanders by Globe Series of Games, c.1900.

Freddy the Fox

Freddy the Fox

Freddy the Fox card game published by Valentine & Sons, Ltd, c.1910.

The Deck of Cards

The Deck of Cards

The Deck of Cards by Andrew Jones Art, 1979.

On The Cards

On The Cards

A Motley Pack - transformation playing cards & ‘On The Cards’ book facsimile published by Sunish Chabba, 2019.

Zoological Misfitz

Zoological Misfitz

Zoological Misfitz card game published by C.W. Faulkner.

Zoo Fun

Zoo Fun

Zoo Fun card game no.445 by Warren Paper Products, c.1960s.

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy

Animal Rummy by Warren Paper Products, c.1960s.

National Geographic: Weird But True

National Geographic: Weird But True

National Geographic: “Weird But True” kids fun fact playing cards, 2014.

Red Sea

Red Sea

Red Sea fish identification cards published in several languages by Horus of Egypt, 2005.

Little Grey Rabbit

Little Grey Rabbit

Little Grey Rabbit illustrated by Margaret Tempest, 1954.

Beatrix Potter’s Rummy

Beatrix Potter’s Rummy

Beatrix Potter’s Rummy published by Gibsons Games, c.1985.