The Playing-Card Industry & Its Relevance Today

Background: A pack of playing cards is a familiar item that many of us might take on holiday at this time of year. However, the question is often asked, “What relevance do playing cards have today and how do playing-card manufacturers survive when so many card games are played online?”. Roddy Somerville, a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards, will explain how the industry has diversified, how artists now dominate the market, how cards have been and still are useful educational tools, and how they can be an effective advertising or promotional weapon. He will also touch on their use in casinos and by magicians.


Roddy Somerville was born and brought up in Edinburgh. On graduating from St Andrews University in 1977 with a degree in French and Fine Arts, he joined the newly formed playing-card department at Stanley Gibbons in London before setting up his own business in Edinburgh four years later. He later worked as a proofreader of cardiological texts. His collecting interests include playing cards, postcards, stamps (especially playing cards on stamps) and sugar wrappers. He is a Past President of the Scottish Philatelic Society, a former Chairman of the International Playing-Card Society, a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards and Curator of the WCMPC’s collection of playing cards housed at the London Metropolitan Archives. He lives near Toulouse in France.