making playing card boxes

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completed playing card boxes


My boxes will have to be a bit anachronistic, as few specimens survive, and those can be considered very late. This does not change the fact that I require something that resembles packaging.

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Inner slide-box, made from recycled cardboard

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cards with a date and a box. information like this is somewhat helpful, somewhat misleading in dating packs


One of the amazing things about cards is how long certain consistencies survive. European cards are believed, at this point, to have all stemmed from a 52 card, four suited pack. Patterns survive for centuries, and almost any card game, ancient or modern, can be played with very little if any modification (obviously tarot are excluded, but clearly related). If the cards themselves show this level of consistency, why not the packaging?
Cards were regularly sold in nothing more than a single paper wrapper (they still are), but different grades were available, and different customers had different expectations of their cards. As it is my expectation of my cards to be able to handle transport in the effects of pursuers of living history, a wrapper is insufficient. I need a box.

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box blanks harvested from the contents of the recycling bin


The different surviving boxes are assembled and open in a variety of ways. It appears that material costs, as well as the shape of the complete pack and other factors determine these, lead me to believe efficiency is the first priority. In conjunction with the late dates (I have been unable to find anything pre- mid xvi century),  I feel I have some flexibility here, and will concentrate on the “efficient manufacture” as my primary pursuit here. Perhaps the enormous amount of paper waste produced from making just a few packs has motivated me…

I have harvested cardboard from can cartons and cut them into rectangles large enough to envelop a pack. My design is a friction-slide, as this is durable and easy construction. K.I.S.S. becomes more and more the forefront of any of my card making ideas.

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opened slide-box

Modern beverage graphics don’t seem very anachronistic to me, so I need to cover that up. The surviving boxes were sometimes leather or wood, but as cards were made by printers, fancy printed papers have also appeared. I have procured blocks to produce printed paper for this application, but they are in queue, and I cannot halt production of packs for this reason. For the time being, handmade imported papers will have to do.

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