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Published September 22, 2018 Updated August 07, 2022

Kinney Transparent Cards

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

1890 USA Advertising Cartomancy Tobacco Translucent Add to Collection
Kinney Transparent playing cards, c.1890

Kinney Brothers Transparent Playing Cards were first issued in c.1890. While the card faces show simplified standard court outlines in monochrome (the same in each suit), hidden humorous or glamorous images can be seen in colour when the cards are held to the light. A fortune prediction was also printed alongside. There were several issues, the first of which contained 52 cards. No joker has ever been seen despite a 53 card variant mentioned on the backs. Tobacco insert cards were widely used to encourage repeat sales to smokers trying to complete sets.

Kinney Transparent playing cards, c.1890 Kinney Transparent playing cards, c.1890 Kinney Transparent playing cards, c.1890

Above: there were several issues of Kinney Transparent Cards, the first of which contained 52 cards with no joker. One edition states “Read Your Fortune” on the back. Kinney Bros issued a wide range of Tobacco insert cards during the 1880s and 1890s, featuring actresses, butterflies, running horses, military series and also the famous Harlequin Cards. See more here

CREDITS & REFERENCES

Images of Kinney Transparent Cards courtesy Peter Bowie www.cardtraderpete.com

Photos of the transparent images courtesy David Epps used with permission from here

Dawson, Tom & Judy: The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, U.S. Games Systems Inc., 2000

Murray Cards (International) Limited: Cigarette Card Values, London, 2003

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


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