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Life playing cards: tobacco education

Published March 16, 2023 Updated March 16, 2023

‘Life playing cards: tobacco education’ anti-smoking deck, USA, 2003.

2003 USA Estero Bay Graphics Education Tobacco Add to Collection

Produced in 2003, this is the third pack in what became known as the “Life or death” series of playing cards. The earlier packs, both produced in 1985, as part of the original “Death” series were Death on drugs and Death cigarettes. Unlike the earlier packs these cards were published by Estero Bay Graphics, Morro Bay, California. And while the earlier packs repeated the same cartoons on each suit, this pack presents different amusing and colourful cartoons on the 52 cards and the 2 jokers, with brief snippets of health advice and warnings below each. There is an additional information card which challenges the user to spot the differences between the illustration on the box and that on the back of the cards. See the box and extra card

‘Life playing cards: tobacco education’ published by Estero Bay Graphics, Morro Bay, California, 2003 ‘Life playing cards: tobacco education’ published by Estero Bay Graphics, Morro Bay, California, 2003 ‘Life playing cards: tobacco education’ published by Estero Bay Graphics, Morro Bay, California, 2003

Above: ‘Life playing cards: tobacco education’ published by Estero Bay Graphics, Morro Bay, California, 2003.

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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