Collecting Collections: Vintage Playing Cards

Contributor post by Lisa Congdon

As someone who collects a lot of stuff, I am often asked what “new” favorite collection I have. And it just so happens that I have a new passion right now: vintage playing cards. Some of my current favorites in my collection are pictured above. 

Unlike many collectors of vintage playing cards, I’m less interested in acquiring a full, complete deck. Instead, I’m happy to find just one single card! In fact, I love finding lone, abandoned cards that I can add to my collection of misfit vintage playing cards (not that I won’t take a complete deck when I can find one at the right price!).

I am drawn to playing cards for many reasons: the beautiful artwork, the worn, vintage look, the typography, the odd sizes. It turns out I am not the only one who loves vintage playing cards! There is even a website called Antique Playing Card Source!

This image from{frolic!}

I am mostly drawn to really old playing cards (pre-1930), but I also love decks from the mid-century, like this modern deck via Words& Eggs:

Interested in collecting vintage playing cards? I like this informative little article by Collector’s Weekly for more information. 

I’m off to hunt more vintage playing cards. What is your latest collecting obsession?

Lisa Congdon
Artist, illustrator
Author, A Collection a Day
A Collection a Day:

Jan Halvarson


Julia Bolchakova said...

oh, I used to have a deck like this one on the last photo! But where could you find just one vintage card - not the whole deck?

Constantly Constance said...

How fun is this?! I am doing a self-portrait project with my 5th graders right now where they are drawing themselves as playing cards. I can't wait to show these images with them and incorporate them into a PPT for next time. Thanks so much for sharing!

Rebecca Ann said...

These are all beautiful though I do particularly like the post modern ones.

I have a tiny obsession with collecting ale bottles with unusual labels. When I buy beer I always go by whether I want to keep the bottle. It drives my partner mad 'cause there's loads of empty bottles in our house... I use them as candle holders, vases etc. They look particularly good after being used as a candle holder for a while because they have dribbled wax all down them!

Anonymous said...

That is so fun! I found some retro playing cards from Delta Airlines at my grandma's house last year. They were so cool-looking. I blogged about them and it was one of my more popular posts!


Jennifer Bewerse said...

I just bought some vintage playing cards for the art on the BACK. They're so cute, small, and that perfect pop of color in a small space :)

Sinta Renee said...

I have a playing card collection... and I have always wanted to add a vintage group to my collection. So far I have cards from serveral different countries and lots of places in the U.S.
I'm going to have to check out your links! Thanks!

Mandy Behrens said...

Stunning finds! My daughter's birthday is on Valentine's Day so I'm always drawn to hearts -- I want to frame all these photos! Both daughters are enjoying their "Ladies of Star Wars" themed playing cards...ha! My latest collecting obsession is antique kitchen wares for my 1910 home. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE these!
So graphic and gorgeous colors.
I collect fortune telling cards, vintage and modern, mostly reproductions, as I want the entire decks so I can use them to tell fortunes.
and Constance, above, love that self-portrait idea, I'm gonna steal it.