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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.

Churchill in WW2

Churchill ‘Walking with Destiny’ playing cards published by the Imperial War Museum.

Churchill ‘Walking with Destiny’ playing cards published by the Imperial War Museum, London, featuring classic photographs of British national icon Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), politician, army officer, statesman and writer. See the Box

Churchill ‘Walking with Destiny’ playing cards published by the Imperial War Museum, London Churchill ‘Walking with Destiny’ playing cards published by the Imperial War Museum, London

Above: Churchill ‘Walking with Destiny’ playing cards published by the Imperial War Museum, London. 52 cards + 2 jokers in box.


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By Matt Probert

Member since March 02, 2012

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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.

Recommended

Panko

Panko

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

William Tell

William Tell

Facsimile of Swiss William Tell deck from c.1870 published by Lo Scarabeo.

Luxus Skatkarte Nr.1134

Luxus Skatkarte Nr.1134

Luxus Skatkarte Nr.1134 printed by Brepols for Germany, c.1940s.

Anma US Armed Forces

Anma US Armed Forces

Anma US Armed Forces, 1942.

Victory

Victory

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

Le Jeu de la Guerre

Le Jeu de la Guerre

Facsimile of “Le Jeu de la Guerre” designed by Gilles de la Boissière in 1698.

Inspector

Inspector

Inspector card game published by W F Jackson & Sons, 1940s.

Spy

Spy

Spy card game published by Valentine’s Games, c.1915.

Sister Susie Snap

Sister Susie Snap

Sister Susie Snap published by Valentine & Sons Ltd, c.1915.

Who’s Who

Who’s Who

Who’s Who or Food for Thought, a wartime card game, c.1939.

National Misfitz

National Misfitz

National Misfitz published by C.W. Faulkner & Co c.1900.

Woman’s Hour

Woman’s Hour

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

Atouts de la Vie

Atouts de la Vie

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

Prisoners of War

Prisoners of War

Hand-made playing cards by French prisoners of war in Porchester Castle, Hampshire, c.1796.

Safety First

Safety First

Safety First card game embodying the Kerb Drill, published by John Jaques & Son Ltd, 1940s.

Victory Snap

Victory Snap

Wartime Snap, a memoir of past times, c.1941.

World Leaders Snap

World Leaders Snap

World Leaders Snap published around WW2, c.1940.

Neue Deutsche Spielkarte

Neue Deutsche Spielkarte

Neue Deutsche Spielkarte (Reformkarte) conceived by Dr. Timon Schroeter, 1883.

Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz card game published by Pepys, 1940,

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.

Churchill in WW2

Churchill in WW2

Churchill ‘Walking with Destiny’ playing cards published by the Imperial War Museum.

Naipe Nacional

Naipe Nacional

Naipe Nacional designed by the architect, illustrator and artist Luis Alemany (1886-1943).

Mapit

Mapit

“Mapit” war map card game published by Geographia Ltd, 55 Fleet Street, London E.C., c.1940s.

Aleister Crowley Tarot – the sombre luminary

Aleister Crowley Tarot – the sombre luminary

Aleister Crowley Tarot - Crowley and Lady Freda Harris worked on the illustrations between 1938 and 1943

Mayall Press Art Studies

Mayall Press Art Studies

Photographic playing cards - each face having an "art study" of a female nude, Mayall Press, Stockwell, London, c.1946.

Prince of Wales National Relief Fund 1914

Prince of Wales National Relief Fund 1914

A two-pack patience set produced by Thomas De la Rue on behalf of the Prince of Wales National Relief Fund in 1914.

Anti-Fascist Propaganda Pack for the Siege of Leningrad, 1943

Anti-Fascist Propaganda Pack for the Siege of Leningrad, 1943

In 1943 a pack of ‘anti-fascist’ playing cards was designed by Vasiliy Andrianovich Vlasov mocking the rulers of Germany and the Axis powers.

Carel de Wagenaer

Carel de Wagenaer

Facsimile edition of cards first published by Carel de Wagenaer, Amsterdam in c.1698

Playing Politics

Playing Politics

“Playing Politics” or “Cabinet Shuffle” specially commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983

Deakin’s 3rd edition

Deakin’s 3rd edition

Deakin’s Political Playing Cards 3rd edition, c.1888.

Back to the USSR

Back to the USSR

Back to the USSR deck featuring communist party leaders and politicians, c.1995

Glorious Russia

Glorious Russia

‘Glorious Russia’ playing cards made in France by Grimaud, c.1995

European Naval Powers

European Naval Powers

“XVI Century European Naval Powers” deck illustrated by Isabel Ibáñez de Sendadiano and produced by Heraclio Fournier in 1981.

Kaiser Jubiläum

Kaiser Jubiläum

Kaiser Jubiläum Imperial playing cards made in Austria by Ferd Piatnik & Sons, Vienna

Skat Politisch

Skat Politisch

Political “Skat Politisch” published by ASS, 1976

Naipes Artiguistas, 1816

Naipes Artiguistas, 1816

Naipes Artiguistas published in Concepción del Uruguay, Entre Rios province (Argentina) in 1816, by Fray Solano García.

Siegfried Line

Siegfried Line

“We’re Gonna Hang Out the Washing on the Siegfried Line” wartime card game made by William Sessions Ltd, 1940s

Squadron Scramble

Squadron Scramble

“Squadron Scramble” card games for identifying military planes, Whitman Publishing Co., Racine, Wisconsin, 1942.