Playing cards arrived in Europe sometime in the late 14th century. They may have been introduced by North African Moors, whose influence on southern Europe was strong at this time. A key piece of evidence in this theory is a 15th-century document called the "Chronicles of Viterbo," which indicates that playing cards with designs similar to suits and varying numbers of items on each card arrived in Italy in 1379. But where the Moors got playing cards, or even whether they invented them at all, is a good deal less clear.
The earliest surviving playing cards date from the 15th century, bearing images of animals, plants, birds, and flowers. By about 1500, three main suit systems had evolved: Latin (including Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese); Germanic (German and Swiss), and French (which has become the most widely-used suit system in the world). These early playing cards were hand-painted, often gilded, and designed to be beautiful objects. Meant for gambling as well as for playing games of skill, they also often incorporated symbols or mnemonics to represent knowledge ranging from botany to heraldry, cosmology to geography.
Playing-card design as we know it today (double-ended court cards with crowns, etc.) became standardized in the 1800s by designers like Hunt, Reynolds, De La Rue, and Goodall. Id...
To identify 18th- and 19th-century British cards, looks for a tax stamp on one of the cards in the deck, usually the ace of spades. Stamping playing cards began in 1765, and the first ones read "G. III REX" until it changed to "G. IV REX" in the 1820s. The words "SIXPENCE ADDITL. DUTY" were added to cards from 1776 until 1789, and subsequent changes to this legend and its placement on the card can give the collector important information about a card's age.
Among the most common cards are those with the Bicycle brand. Beginning in 1885, more than 80 intricate designs, mostly in red or blue, were created for these classic playing cards. And by the 20th century, playing cards were given away so that railroads, tourist destinations, and airlines could advertise themselves on the back of each card, as well as the packet in which the deck was stored.
Interviews & Articles
People are often surprised when we tell them we collect playing cards. They all know how to play games with cards and have all hel… [more]
Collecting facsimile playing cards can be an interesting window onto the world of historic and antique playing card decks. In a re… [more]
For over six centuries - apart from its functionality as a number game - the playing card has been chosen as a medium for artistry… [more]
How did I start collecting Victorian trade cards? In the late 60s I was a bottle collector, early American bottles and flasks. I s… [more]
Dave Campbell contacted me after reading a post on The Baseball Card blog. He's been collecting baseball cards non-stop since 1981… [more]
I was 10 when the movie came out and I went to the store and bought a couple of packs of Star Wars cards. But I ended up trashing … [more]
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
World of Playing Cards
DXPO Playing Cards
Museum of Talking Boards
Non Sports Cards: Tobacco, Gum and Candy
Elliot Avedon Games Museum
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Top eBay Auctions
Recent News: Playing Cards
Source: Google News
Snyder, Dorothy H.Rapid City Journal, June 19th
Her interests included gardening, collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia, Barbie Dolls, shopping and playing cards with family and friends. She devoted much of her time and energy as a caregiver to family members and a dedicated wife. Left to cherish...Read more
Dark Horse Deluxe Gets GrimmMediaConnection, June 19th
The Dark Horse coin pin replica is given an antique finish over zinc alloy, re-creating the patina of antiquity. Dark Horse will continue to offer more Grimm products, including busts, journals, and playing cards, and some very cool lenticular...Read more
Breckenridge Soapbox Derby racers revved up and ready to go (with video)News-Herald.com, June 18th
“The Shriners in their little cars, the police who do their things on motorcycles, the Junior U.S. Marine Corps/National Guard, at least a half a dozen convertible vintage cars, some clowns,” Hunter said, listing those who will kick off the first ever...Read more
Verdi: At old Boston Garden, rats and excessive heat had their placeChicago Daily Herald, June 18th
Although TD Garden is of a similar vintage as the United Center (born 1995), it borrowed certain housekeeping codes from the ancient Boston Garden, R.I.P. There, guest teams also found quirks in their quarters. Hayden Fry, the famed Iowa football coach...Read more
Rich legacy of cottage generationsHaliburton County Echo, June 18th
Admire the antique dough box from the old homestead in Milton. Sink into the comfort of Great Aunt Molly's Doug remembers quiet evenings reading by oil lamp, playing cards and watching the stars down by the lake. His teenage years changed all that...Read more
My love affair with carsNews24, June 17th
One was a 318i and the other was a 320i – both of eighties vintage. Each of those cars was bought in a decidedly I first met it at a cramped, 'cheapie' used-car dealer in an area where you just know the yard owner will have gold teeth and speak...Read more
J. Cole in Wonderland: A Cautionary TaleMTV Hive, June 17th
“I bet nobody will like this,” he muttered, slipping into vintage Roc-A-Wear jammies and quaffing a virgin Thug Passion (one part fruit punch, one part sparkling Martinelli's). Upon hearing the album's first words, “it's way darker this time,” J. Cole...Read more
Door opens for country codersThe Age, June 16th
The Adelaide native loves to be able to work from anywhere and enjoy the region's sights, sounds and smells, including the "prominent scent of grapes during vintage". However, he feels isolated from his peers. "Networking is "The challenge itself...Read more