It’s on the cards

Playing cards are often overlooked for their graphic qualities, probably because of the familiarity and repetition of symbols and numbers. Granted, not all sets of playing cards are graphically distinctive and so they all tend be much of a muchness.

I’ve recently acquired a few packs of cards, all of varying vintage, and enjoyed examining their details, so I thought I would share a few images with you. The first two packs are not traditional playing cards, but are a card game called Lexicon that originated in the 1930’s.

This set comes in a nifty gold slipcase but I am not certain that this is original as the cards are a little shorter and do not fit as snugly as they ought to. The cards are nice, and there are a few additions to the main deck:

This next pack is definitely original and wears its vintage with distinction! I’m not able to date the packs, but I would guess that they are both quite early – maybe late 1930’s/early 1940’s.

This pack also contained the original rules sheet!

The next pack is a luxury faux snakeskin double pack…

With two pristine packs of corporate branded playing cards of the traditional variety. The company, British Insulated Callanders Construction Company Limited has a long and varied history, and although no longer a going concern, one of its subsidiaries – Balfour Beatty – is still going strong.

The design is very mid century modern and was probably produced for the Festival of Britain in 1951…

The last pack is an Esso promotional pack with the name of the dealer neatly letterpressed on the front.

The real delight is the illustration that adorns the back of the cards, the legendary D-Type Jaguar driven by Mike Hawthorne, probably to celebrate his win at Le Mans in 1955. Lovely.