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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.

Disney Princess

Disney Princess lenticular deck. Each card has two images, one when viewed straight on, and another when viewed from a side angle; both slightly 3D

Disney Princess

Disney Princess lenticular playing cards. Each card has two images, one when viewed straight on, and another when viewed from a side angle, giving the illusion of 3D movement (the scans below show a feint ghost of the second image). The four suit symbols have been changed, and each card is the same across the suits.

Above: Disney Princess lenticular deck (available from your local Toys R Us store) made by Cardinal Industries Inc., USA, 2014. The result is rather bulky cards, about twice the thickness of traditional playing cards. Images courtesy Matt Probert.

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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.

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