The project of this collection originates from a journey in Japan, on september 2009, where I began to gather samples of japanese decks whose complex history (dating back to portugese cards introduced in the XVIth century) had puzzled me. Back in France, I investigated a little more about patterns and their evolution to the point that I felt necessary to broaden my collection horizon to occidental cards. Primary motivations are the same: identifying pattern evolutions, influences and transmission, making an inventory of the variety of graphic systems, favouring common or anonymous games rather than spectacular or unique ones.
You will thus find here complete decks (rather than single cards), editions from all over the world, old or new, with a focus on "standard" patterns, i.e. whose design has been broadly used (possibly in a restricted geographic area), experimented to the point that it reached a specific fixed status.
I originally restricted my field to "classic" systems, deriving from cards arrived in Europe in the XIIIth century and using 4 suits (whatever they are). Games like "Happy families", "Schwarzer Peter", illustrative or educational cards are not part of it. However I happened to make exceptions over time, for comparison purpose or because some deck was an interesting deviation from a classic pattern.
I try to document decks I publish as much as I can, and these notes are constantly revaluated. That said, you will find here mostly descriptive data (edition dates, manufacturers, sizes, subjects depicted on the cards...), rather than historical commentaries. The main point is the images and their sorting according to 3 lines: countries & makers, suits & patterns, dates. I must add that, despite my concern for accuracy, the information can't be considered as "scientific", as it is at best second-hand and I can't afford to systematically cross-check every piece of information.
I used standard definitions for patterns (particularly the ones from International Playing Card Society), with some minor reworking. Generally speaking, terminology is borrowed from this site, where you can go to get familiar with it.
About the website
This website has been created to communicate about my collection with any person that would find interest in it. The main objective is to provide visual elements for comparison or reference. I try to post newly scanned decks regularly (at the moment about 1/3 of the total has been scanned). Published that way, cards are not on sale, nor available for swapping. On the other hand, if you have remarks or wish to make clarifications on the information provided, you are welcome to write to me (use the address at the bottom of this page).
I am entirely responsible for the content published. Reuse of any part of it is free (not copyrighted), including images. As far as possible, if you wish to republish an image, it is a good practice to mention the origin.
Gkards.com has had many names, addresses and designs. It is a work in progress. Features are subject to change without notice. But I try to correct bugs as quickly as possible. Again, if you notice a problem, please write to me.
A great deal of my documentation comes from the web. Resources in french are, as far I as know, relatively rare. I used mainly what is presented on International Playing Card Society (i-p-c-s.org), The World of Playing Cards (www.wopc.co.uk), Andrew Pollett's website (a_pollett.tripod.com/cards.htm), countless decks listed on Alexander Sukhorukov's World Web Playing Cards Museum (a.trionfi.eu/WWPCM/) and the very useful notes from Peter Endebrock (www.endebrock.de/pers-home.html) for datation – all these being at least partially in english. I found great inspiration in Sylvia Mann's books and, more broadly speaking, in the spirit of her collection.
See the Ressources section for a more detailed listing.
About the collector
I am a graphic designer interested in history of forms & patterns. You can contact me at the following address: