The International Playing-Card Society

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The International Playing-Card Society

Perhaps you recall a game from your childhood and you want to relearn it to teach your own children. Maybe you have been on holiday and have seen an unfamiliar game being played with an unusual pack of cards and wondered how to find out the name and rules of the game, and where you might buy similar cards. Would you like to start collecting these often cheap and colourful reminders of different times and different countries? Maybe you would like more in-depth answers to the questions asked above. In that case the International Playing-Card Society may be for you. It numbers more than 300 members world-wide and is run by a members' elected council.

The International Playing-Card Society was founded in 1972 to bring together people, in a variety of countries, who have a common interest in the collecting of playing cards and card games, with the object of sharing research and knowledge. The Society has members in many countries around the world and has inspired the establishment of local societies, which it works closely with, including staging "joint Conventions" in that country.

The International Playing-Card Society holds Conventions annually in the Autumn, the venue usually being located in Europe or America. Details of future meetings can be found on the Calendar page.

Benefits of membership

  • Members receive four issues annually of The Playing-Card, an A5 journal packed with articles and research, with many colour plates. A review of new issues is a popular contribution supported by members' own discoveries. The four issues total approximately 270 pages annually. You can view a sample issue of The Playing Card (in low resolution, PDF 2.7 Mbyte).
  • Pattern sheets or monograph are regularly sent to our members, free of charge.
  • Becoming a new member of the Society does not exclude you from the previous issues of The Playing-Card. Through the Members Area you will have access to all the back issue from 1972. This is an enormous benefit as the whole wealth of issues are 'searchable' through the hosting site of the Conjuring Arts Research Center.
  • Back issues are also available in hard copy at a reduced price for our members.
  • You will also have access to all the back issues of the North-American Playing-Card Society, 52 plus Joker.
  • Also in the Members' Area you will have access to the current IPCS Members' List which will give you all means to contacting them, like their postal address, e-mail address, collecting interest, languages read and written, etc.
  • The IPCS is connected to many local associations. One of the last joint meeting was hold at Milton Keynes with the English Playing Cards Society (EPCS).
  • These Conventions offer great opportunities to see a display of material that is stored in a local museum or library, and that is exhibited rarely. Talks and a large trading session, game session, a nice dinner, guided tours of interesting places, some being exclusively shown us for the Conventions, are some of the benefits our members enjoy during these gatherings, not to forget the many friendly contacts they further.

Want to know more?

Check our constitution. Enquiries can be sent to the IPCS Secretary , or you can join the society by filling in our on line application form. In many cases the subscription can be paid in local currency to our Area Representatives. Alternatively, annual subscriptions can be paid online by PayPal: go to Join IPCS, and get all benefits in a few days.


Playing cards are common, everyday objects which we take for granted. Yet they have a history of use in Europe which goes back to the late 1300s; their design is a strange mixture of fundamental changes as well as aspects which haven't changed since medieval times. They are found in almost every corner of the globe. Learn more ...


Most countries have their own designs, popular locally, which you may not have seen. Learn more ... and more ....


There have been thousands of games invented and played since the late 14th century when playing-cards first came to Europe. Some of the games became very popular and remained so for many years before being forgotten, unless they were recorded in literature. Some of today's popular games have changed little over several hundred years. Playing cards is still a popular pastime; look at the postings to the newsgroup


Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about playing-cards are available on our FAQ.

This page is maintained by John McLeod and Christian de Ryck (
Last updated 10 June 2022