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Published September 05, 2023 Updated September 05, 2023

Century of Progress

‘Century of Progress’ Exposition playing cards produced by Western Playing Card Company, USA, 1933.

1933 USA Western Playing Card Company Commemorative Exposition Souvenir Add to Collection
‘Century of Progress’ playing cards produced by Western Playing Card Company, 1933

Produced by Western Playing Card Company as a souvenir of the Century of Progress International Exposition, also known as the Chicago World's Fair of 1933, each card has a different black-and-white photo scene of the fair, while the joker shows a gorilla of a million years ago. The reverse features a globe rotating on its orbit with the date 1933.

• See: Hochman encyclopedia of American playing cards, p. 251, SX26

‘Century of Progress’ playing cards produced by Western Playing Card Company, 1933 ‘Century of Progress’ playing cards produced by Western Playing Card Company, 1933 ‘Century of Progress’ playing cards produced by Western Playing Card Company, 1933

Above: ‘Century of Progress’ playing cards produced by Western Playing Card Company, 1933.

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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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