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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.

Zodiac Club

‘Zodiac Club Playing Cards’ for Pepys, c.1965-75.

Zodiac Club Playing Cards for Pepys, c.1955-70 Zodiac Club Playing Cards for Pepys, c.1955-70 Zodiac Club Playing Cards for Pepys, c.1955-70

Above: ‘Zodiac Club Playing Cards’ manufactured by Alf Cooke for for Pepys, c.1955-70. The four indices are unusual for this era, and the back designs are also throwbacks to earlier designs. Images courtesy Matt Probert.

See: the tax wrapper

Zodiac Club Playing Cards for Pepys, c.1955-70

Above: Zodiac Club Playing Cards for Pepys, c.1955-70.

Zodiac Club Playing Cards for Pepys, c.1971-75

Above: Waddingtons ‘Zodiac Club Playing Cards’ for Pepys, after Alf Cooke was taken over by the Amalgamated Playing Card Company Ltd in 1971. Image courtesy Ken Lodge.

See also: Pepys Perma Playing Cards

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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.

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