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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.

Fortune-Telling Cards

Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.

Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850. 52 cards with a comical illustration and caption on each card. Black and red colours only.

Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850 Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850 Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850 Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850

Above: Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850. 52 cards, plain backs.

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By Barney Townshend

Member since October 06, 2015

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Retired Airline Pilot, interested in: Transformation Playing Cards, Karl Gerich and Elaine Lewis. Secretary of the EPCS. Treasurer of the IPCS.

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Fortune-Telling Cards

Fortune-Telling Cards

Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.

Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards

Comic Question & Answer cards by Josh. Reynolds & Sons, circa 1850.

Cartomancy and Divination Cards

Cartomancy and Divination Cards

Playing cards are used for fortune-telling, predicting the future or even as a psychological adjunct to folk medicine and therapy.

Fortune Telling

Fortune Telling

Fortune Telling cards by Whitman Publishing Co., 1940.

La Sibylle des Salons

La Sibylle des Salons

La Sibylle des Salons facsimile of 19th century deck published by J M Simon, 1979.

Black Peter

Black Peter

Black Peter card game designed by Willy Mayrl for Piatnik.

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.

Le Destin Antique

Le Destin Antique

Le Jeu du Destin Antique, originally published by Grimaud in XIX c., republished many times since...

Baracca & Burattini

Baracca & Burattini

Baracca & Burattini puppetry deck printed by Dal Negro, 1998.

Crikey!

Crikey!

Crikey! Classic British Comics playing cards published by Bird Playing Cards, 2013.

Forfeits

Forfeits

Forfeits party card game by Merit Games, J & L Randall Ltd, c.1950.

Pranks & Mimics for the Party

Pranks & Mimics for the Party

Pranks & Mimics for the Party, 1950s.

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.

Stationskwartetspel

Stationskwartetspel

Railway Stations quartet game illustrated by Wim Dolk and published by Servex BV, Utrecht, 1975.

Playtex

Playtex

Playtex - le jeu de la beauté et du destin, Grimaud, 1971.

Hungarian Drinking Skat

Hungarian Drinking Skat

Hungarian Drinking Skat, c.2004.

One Penny Games

One Penny Games

One Penny Card Games, 1920s.

One Penny Games 2

One Penny Games 2

One Penny Card Games, 1900-1910, mostly anonymous 'Snap' games and made in Germany.

Ups & Downs

Ups & Downs

Ups and Downs humorous card game published in UK by A. N. Myers, c.1885.

Inspector

Inspector

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

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.

Who’s Who

Who’s Who

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

101 Dalmatas

101 Dalmatas

101 Dalmatas by Naipes Fournier, 1995,

Schwarzer Peter mit Hundebildern

Schwarzer Peter mit Hundebildern

Humorous dog-themed Black Peter game illustrated by Willy Mayrl, c.1960.

El Oráculo de la Bruja

El Oráculo de la Bruja

“El Oráculo de la Bruja” fortune-telling cards, 2003.

Klutz Card Deck

Klutz Card Deck

Klutz Card Deck with comic courts.

Bicycle Emotions

Bicycle Emotions

Bicycle Emotions playing cards with custom emotions on the courts to help you bluff at cards, 2013.

Hand Drawn Joker Pack

Hand Drawn Joker Pack

Pack of 52 hand-drawn Jokers.

Neues Frag˗ und Antwortspiel

Neues Frag˗ und Antwortspiel

Neues Frag- und Antwortspiel (new question and answer game) from Germany.

Cat Chaos

Cat Chaos

‘Cat Chaos Celebrity Edition’ card game by Ginger Fox Ltd., 2017.

Chicken Playing Cards

Chicken Playing Cards

Chicken Playing Cards designed by Susan Krupp, 2017.

Happy Families

Happy Families

Happy Families by Norvic Mill, c.1920s.

Punch & Judy

Punch & Judy

Punch and Judy card game published by Pepys, 1956.

Kinney Transparent Cards

Kinney Transparent Cards

Kinney Bros Transparent playing cards with hidden images and fortunes, c.1890.

World Leaders Snap

World Leaders Snap

World Leaders Snap published around WW2, c.1940.

El Tripero

El Tripero

Hand-drawn semi-erotic, satirical playing cards by Lautaro Fiszman ‘El Tripero’, 2002.

Jeu Grotesque

Jeu Grotesque

Jeu Grotesque was first published in France c.1800.

Coricidin Demilets

Coricidin Demilets

Coricidin Demilets pharmaceutical playing cards, 1967.