Kon-Vex Playing Cards

‘Kon-Vex’ Playing Cards

Presumably in the wake of the lifting of wartime restrictions on paper, card and printing, Waddington’s introduced a series of unusual shapes in the early 1950s. They resurrected the old circular cards, renamed ‘Rondo’, and produced convex cards (‘Kon-Vex’), the Zulu Shield pack (just ‘Zulu’ on the box) and ‘Slimline’ cards, which were narrower than the usual bridge cards and had a Barribal back design. There was also a De La Rue version of ‘Slimline’ with Goodall courts and different backs. A ‘Kon-Vex’ version of the Coronation cards of 1953 was produced alongside the standard size. Interestingly, the standard sized packs are cut from the same sheets as the convex ones, as the image of the Queen still has convex sides. The courts used for the convex and slimline packs are the only example of a turned version of the Waddington design. Convex cards were not new: convex and concave cards had been produced in the U.S. in the 1920s.

Above: ‘Kon-Vex’ playing cards manufactured by John Waddington Ltd in c.1953, designed “for easy deal and shuffle”. ‘Kon-Vex’ or barrel-shaped cards were also quite popular as advertising packs. Images courtesy Ken Lodge.

Above: 1950s promotional deck for Brown Brothers. The design on the back features pink elephants wearing top hats and the names of a few alcoholic drinks in very small print! (Click image to zoom). Images courtesy Matt Probert.

Above: assorted ‘Kon-Vex’ packs.

Above: advertising dual ‘Kon-Vex’ pack for Tricity Modeq Clothes Dryer with the original complaints slip. See the Box   Images courtesy Matt Probert.

‘Zulu’ playing cards

Above: ‘Zulu’ playing cards manufactured by John Waddington Ltd, 1950s. The idea behind the Zulu Shield pack was to enable fanning by only revealing the index at the top (which, incidentally, is in the style of De La Rue's cards). Not a success! Images courtesy Ken Lodge.

Ovoid playing cards

advertising deck for Oranjeboom lager beer, late 1970s

Above: ovoid shaped advertising deck for Oranjeboom lager beer, late 1970s. Image courtesy Matt Probert.


Lodge, Ken: The Standard English Pattern (second revised and enlarged edition), Bungay, Suffolk, 2010.

All images and research courtesy Ken Lodge unless stated otherwise.

Last Updated December 14, 2021 at 01:53am


Join the Newsletter

Editor’s Picks

Playing cards have enormous educational value, with a long history and many diverse types and graphical styles from around the world... View More →

back to top