I have a collection of playing cards and other cards that I've gathered over the years, and, since I recently added to it with the Flower Families cards, I thought I would get the whole collection out and tell you a bit about it.
Like postcards, playing cards are miniature works of art, and I think this is one of the reasons I like them. But the artists designing them have to fit within a set of rules, so this means they have to be creative.
There are certain types of cards I particularly like, and all my cards fit in one or more of these categories:
Tarot cards and similar
Cards from places I've travelled to
Cards in tins
Cards with interesting illustrations
Cards I've illustrated myself
I think my favourite category of cards is transformation cards. These are cards where the "pips" (hearts, diamonds etc) are incorporated into the design of the card. I like these because it means that each card is unique. I first came across these through "The Key to the Kingdom", a book and pack of cards by Tony Meeuwissen, which form a puzzle. I got this as a present back in the early 1990s because I loved illustrated puzzle books such as Masquerade by Kit Williams. Later I found other transformation cards online, and got the Teddy Bear pack and the Kitten Club pack.
Cards I have made or illustrated
The pack of cards from Muji was perfect for adding my own illustrations, so I set about creating a pack of transformation cards on a Japanese theme. I'm about 3/4 of the way through illustrating these, and I think I have run out of unique items to draw on each card, so I'll start repeating some of the ideas. The Charles Rennie Mackintosh cards were a much simpler idea, using carved stamps.
I'm not superstitious in any way, but I do love the art on tarot cards. I particularly love the Ukiyoe Tarot, which is fashioned in the style of Japanese woodblock prints. I made a black velvet drawstring bag for one of my packs of tarot cards, since they did not come in a box.
These I-Ching cards are used in a similar way to tarot cards.
On long-term loan from my parents are these Peanuts cards which they've had for as long as I can remember, they used to be kept beside the chess pieces and metal puzzles. The other tiny cards were from a Christmas cracker.
Cards in tins, and from my travels
I happened to be in China just before the 2008 Olympics, so I found a few Olympic souvenirs including this fantastic tin of playing cards illustrated with the five mascots doing a different sporting event on each card. And I picked up the Peru ones as a last minute buy at the airport when leaving Peru, to use up the last of my cash!
On my second trip to Japan this was something I was particularly looking for - a pack of hanafuda cards (flower cards), and I eventually found them at the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts (Fureikan). The illustrations on them are amazing, and I love the subtle colour scheme!
Happy families type cards
The Flower Families cards were my most recent find for my collection, at an antiques fair in the Grassmarket. The "Cheery Families" are a modern re-issue by M&S of a vintage pack of cards.
Continuous landscape cards
This pack of cards was the very first one in my collection, and lived in my box of treasures until the rest of the collection grew to join it! They are copies of a vintage pack of cards that can be combined in any way to make a continuous landscape. My artistic mind loves the tiny illustrations, and my mathematical mind loves the calculation on the box of how many combinations there are! I can remember playing with these at my Gran and Grandad's house, and imagining that these were real places somewhere along the coast of Fife.