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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.

Royal Pavilion at Brighton

The Royal Pavilion, also known as the Brighton Pavilion, is an Asian-style palace built for King George IV when he was Prince of Wales.

The “Royal Pavilion at Brighton” playing cards, depicting caricatures of Regency period life, is also known as the “Regency Deck”. The Royal Pavilion is a former royal residence located in Brighton, England. It was built in three stages, beginning in 1787, as a seaside pleasure retreat for George, Prince of Wales (from 1811 Prince Regent), in an opulent Indian style with extravagant chinoiserie interiors.

The Royal Pavilion at Brighton playing cards

Above: The Royal Pavilion at Brighton playing cards printed by Carta Mundi in association with the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. 52 cards + 3 jokers + score card in box. Images courtesy Rex Pitts & Matt Probert.

See also Wikipedia: Royal Pavilion

The Royal Pavilion at Brighton
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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

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Rex's main interest was in card games, because, he said, they were cheap and easy to get hold of in his early days of collecting. He is well known for his extensive knowledge of Pepys games and his book is on the bookshelves of many.

His other interest was non-standard playing cards. He also had collections of sheet music, music CDs, models of London buses, London Transport timetables and maps and other objects that intrigued him.

Rex had a chequered career at school. He was expelled twice, on one occasion for smoking! Despite this he trained as a radio engineer and worked for the BBC in the World Service.

Later he moved into sales and worked for a firm that made all kinds of packaging, a job he enjoyed until his retirement. He became an expert on boxes and would always investigate those that held his cards. He could always recognize a box made for Pepys, which were the same as those of Alf Cooke’s Universal Playing Card Company, who printed the card games. This interest changed into an ability to make and mend boxes, which he did with great dexterity. He loved this kind of handicraft work.

His dexterity of hand and eye soon led to his making card games of his own design. He spent hours and hours carefully cutting them out and colouring them by hand.

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Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne

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“Royal Cards Reign of Queen Anne” cover historical events, both honourable and treacherous, during the period 1702 to 1704.

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.

Black Peter

Black Peter

Black Peter card game designed by Willy Mayrl for Piatnik.

Polska

Polska

Polska with artwork by Katarzyna Tomala & Krzysztof Korzeniak, 2011.

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.

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.

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes deck with caricatures by Jeff Decker published by Gemaco Playing Card Co. 1989

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.

Ethiopian

Ethiopian

Ethiopian playing cards designed for the Ethiopian Tourist Organization by Afewerk Teklé.

Sapra Studio Original

Sapra Studio Original

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

Brazil Pictorial Aces

Brazil Pictorial Aces

Genoese pattern with Pictorial Aces for Brazil by Brepols, Turnhout, c.1920.

El Al Airlines

El Al Airlines

El Al Airlines deck designed by Jean David, Israel, c.1970.

Stationskwartetspel

Stationskwartetspel

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

Dynastie Royale de Belgique

Dynastie Royale de Belgique

Dynastie Royale de Belgique by Mesmaekers, 1934.

French Revolution

French Revolution

Bicentenaire de la Révolution Française 1789–1989 created by Christian Offroy.

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.

Naval and Military Families

Naval and Military Families

Naval and Military Families produced by Prince and Princess Louis of Battenberg, printed by Ernst Nister of Nuremberg, c.1905-10.

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.

La Mariée du Mardi-Gras

La Mariée du Mardi-Gras

La Mariée du Mardi-Gras, published by Jeux et Jouets Français. Paris, early 1900s.

A Royal Game

A Royal Game

A Royal Game featuring Queen Victoria’s children and extended family, published by A. Collier, London, c.1896.

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.

Crown the Queen

Crown the Queen

Crown the Queen card game invented by Elaine Burton, c.1953.

Souvenir from Zakynthos

Souvenir from Zakynthos

Souvenir from Zakynthos by Euro Card.

Souvenir of Norway

Souvenir of Norway

Souvenir of Norway deck.

Klutz Card Deck

Klutz Card Deck

Klutz Card Deck with comic courts.

Woman’s Hour

Woman’s Hour

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

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.