Putting Cards On The Table

I’ve always been a fan of sets of cards; I love the potential for small multiples tacitly found in a deck of cards. I love the same thing about the boxes and boxes of baseball cards I’ve collected since I was a kid. There’s a great illustration of small multiples of these El Al Airlines (circa 1970s) playing cards (more pictures from Grain Edit):

From the article:

The cards are indeed beautiful and are also nice depictions of the biblical characters – wise Solomon with his scrolls, Jonathan with his arrows, Samson with his jawbone, etc., and reflect the tradition of representing the legendary or historical characters on cards. There is a nice nod to the Paris court tradition of playing card characters by keeping the depiction of David as the King of Spades. Of the other traditional biblical characters, Sheba replaces Rachel as Queen of Diamonds and (unsurprisingly) Judith is replaced with Esther as Queen of Hearts. Julius Caesar is an obvious one to leave off (far better to show Solomon), and instead of the sometimes-shown Judas Maccabeus as Jack of Clubs there’s another leader of a revolt, Bar Giora. I guess it’s hard to choose such a small number from all the people in Israeli history, but if you’re going to show Bar Kochba, you have to show Bar Giora too. Perhaps.

Here’s a comparison of traditional card illustrations and typography:

This passage clearly illustrates the benefit in small multiples:

…there is a fair bit of difference in the quality and the detail of the drawing, although many of the design elements are consistent; for comparison, I’ve put a queen card from each next to each other here. (emphasis added)

Just one of the grand benefits of this simple information representation device.

About dstringham

i am a visual information and user experience designer, american sign language interpreter and instructor, and instructional psychology & technology graduate student. contact me at dstringham (at) gmail.com.
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