Masters Playing Cards 2020

2020 / 21 The Master’s Commemorative Installation Playing Cards

Master: Giles David Stockton ACII ALCM

The 450th anniversary of the opening of the Royal Exchange 1571.

These cards commemorate the 450th anniversary of the opening of the Royal Exchange building in London by Queen Elizabeth I on the 23rd January 1571. The building was established by Sir Thomas Gresham (known as the father of English banking) as London’s first purpose-built centre for trading stocks. The image on the backs of the cards is of the current Royal Exchange building which stands opposite the Bank of England. London has been at the forefront of trading since the middle ages and continues to thrive today. This pack of cards celebrates the buildings and their designers who made the City of London what it is today.

The Kings show historic buildings in the city built in the 1800’s and early 1900’s and still surviving today. The Queens depict new buildings built in the late 1900’s and early 2000’s with a ground- breaking style suitable for trading activities. The Jacks show images of the architects behind these buildings both new and historical. The Jokers depict the design of the gates of the current Royal Exchange paying homage to Thomas Gresham with the letters TG (Thomas Gresham).
(A) Red background.   (B) Black background.

Visit our archive of Masters Installation Cards - 139 Years of fascinating and historical playing cards.

 MASTERS CARDS 2020 / 21

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The Immediate Past Master’s Installation Playing Cards 2019

2019 / 20 The Master’s Commemorative Installation Playing Cards 

Master: Dr (Christopher) John Eaton Esq. MB BS LRCP MRCS

The  Masters presentation bridge pack of playing cards was unveiled at the Company's Installation Banquet at  Mansion House on Thursday the 5th December 2019.

About the cards
The cards commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Which took place between 10th July and 31st October 1940. The Kings show Winston Churchill and senior RAF Officers.
The Queens illustrate RAF fighter aircraft while the Jacks portray air defence systems.
The Aces show some of Britain's ace pilots who were successful in defeating the enemy attack.

More information can be found on the presentation pack insert by clicking the link opposite.

This is the second pack of Master's cards to be designed for the Company by Stacey Jay Kelly

 MASTERS CARDS 2019 / 20

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Past Master’s Installation Playing Cards 2018

2018-19 Master: Mark Jonathan Winston Esq. DMS FiMgt

The  Masters presentation bridge pack of playing cards was unveiled at the Company's Installation Banquet at  Mansion House on Thursday the 6th December 2018.

About the cards
While the cards commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first manned Moon landing, they are intended to be seen as a celebration of mankind's development and sacrifice to expand horizons beyond our own planet. The Court cards depict astronauts from around the world , some of whom have paid the ultimate price in the pursuit of a better understanding of space and the challenges we face for space exploration.

These cards are dedicated to what nations can do when coming together collectively and working towards a common purpose.

More information can be found on the presentation pack insert by clicking the link opposite.

This is the second pack of Master's cards to be designed for the Company by Stacey Jay Kelly

 MASTERS CARDS 2018 / 19

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Past Master’s Installation Playing Cards 2017

2017-18 Master: Anthony P Komedera Esq. MBA FCA
The Master, Anthony P Komedera Esq. MBA FCA, presentation bridge pack of playing cards was unveiled at the Company's Installation Banquet at  Mansion House on Thursday the 7th December 2017.

About the Cards
The cards commemorate medical and surgical inventions and developments which either contributed to Joseph Lister's discovery of antisepsis or would not have been possible if antisepsis had not been developed. With the exception of the Ace cards, each card conveys details of the individual(s) concerned and their contribution to medicine and surgery.

This pack is not designed to be an exhaustive historical record of medicine and surgery post 1867 and the descriptions are those of Anthony Komedera, Master 2017-18, who is neither an historian nor a medical practitioner.

Wherever possible, categories of medical/surgical discoveries have been grouped together by suit. The Spades include Plastic Surgery, Gynaecology and Vaccines. The Clubs include surgery to various parts of the head and throat, Nuclear Medicine and Blood transfusions. The Hearts include Heart and Lung surgery. The Diamonds include transplantation surgery and related techniques.

More information can be found on the presentation pack insert by clicking the button below.

This is the first pack of Master's cards to be designed for the Company by Stacey Jay Kelly

All of the Masters Cards since 1882 can be viewed via this link.

 MASTERS CARDS 2017 / 18

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The WCMPC Playing Card Collection

The Company maintains and continues to expands its world famous collection of playing cards first presented by Past Master Henry Phillips in 1907 and housed by arrangement with the City of London at the London Metropolitan Archives.

The Company is currently undertaking an ambitious project to make digitised images of our collection available online.
Please click here to view some of the WCMPC Card Collection.

In 1908, Past Master Henry Phillips presented his own collection of playing cards to the company. He had been Master four times between 1854 and 1897. The collection at that time numbered 599 items, and these together with the John Berry and Waddington collections are now housed in the London Metropolitan Archive and total several thousand packs of cards dating back to the late 17th century. They are available for inspection by appointment.

A limited edition of 300 copies of a book written by John G Thorpe was commissioned in 2000 to celebrate and commemorate the Millennium. The book describes the history of the company as well as containing full colour illustrations of all the company's presentation packs and special packs. Copies of the book are available from the Clerk at the Company's address below.

The Playing Card Committee

The Playing Card Committee (PCC) is appointed by the Court to undertake certain responsibilities for the activities of the Company associated with playing cards. The Committee meets just prior to each Court meeting (except January) and considers matters concerning the administration of the Company’s playing card Collections and other items held on trust at the Guildhall Library (GHL), the London Metropolitan Archive (LMA).
The Committee is also concerned with the acquisition of playing cards and other items relating to the history of the Company and the trade of ‘the making of playing cards’ and has established an acquisitions policy.
An important annual occurrence is the overseeing of the creation and the production of the new Master’s pack of commemorative playing cards to ensure that it complies with the guidelines and the budget approved by the Court. The Committee is responsible for the management of all contractual arrangements on behalf of the Court in respect of all publications and packs of playing cards approved by the Court.

The Master’s special playing cards have been produced annually since 1882; they are printed in limited quantity, and distributed to all Liverymen, Freemen, official guests of the Company, selected Museums and gentlemen guests at the annual banquet where the cards first appear. The Master often acknowledges hospitality by presenting a pack to hosts.

The Playing Card Committee also oversees and controls all matters in relation to the reproduction of images where copyright is owned by the Company. In addition, the PCC maintains and updates all Company display boards and other items relating to the Company and undertakes other initiatives, with the approval of the Court to promote the craft of ‘the making of playing cards’.

Former Lord Mayor the Rt. Hon. Alderman David Wootton's pack of Dickens Cards
It is both fortuitous and coincidental that former Lord Mayor, the Rt. Hon. Alderman David Wootton, is also a huge follower of the work of Charles Dickens and indeed is Chairman of the Trustees of the Charles Dickens Museum. Past Master Lance Whitehouse was very pleased to assist with the creation of a unique Lord Mayor of London's Charles Dickens Bicentennial Pack 2012. This special single deck in an attractive tuck box was offered to raise funds for the Lord Mayor's charities. The design bears the Lord Mayor's coat of arms and his portrait on the ace of spades.

Mr. Pickwick

An Letter of Interest
1945 Playing Cards:
Received from Mrs L. James

Further to my note to you on your web site, I am attaching picture of your playing cards. Don't want to sell or buy, just wanted you to know what a superb product you made, have been playing with these since a small child in the early fifties, and they are still going strong, have only just found out about your site as I was curious and googled the motto, which brought me to this point.
Well done and thank you for so many hours of happy pleasure you brought to my family.
Mrs. L. James.

Since 1882 the Company has designed and presented an annual double pack of playing cards to each liveryman and freeman of the Company at the Installation of the new Master. Since 1888 a portrait of the Master has appeared at the centre of the Ace of Spades, and the design chosen and developed by the Master has traditionally commemorated an event of importance occurring in the 12 months leading up to the Master’s year in office.

In 1945 the master was H Cobden Turner Esq. JP. His theme was Peace and the cards showed A winged goddess standing triumphant on flags of Germany and Japan with St. Paul’s Cathedral and Big Ben in the background.

The tradition ensures that each Master of the Company is truly a 'Maker of Playing Cards'. The origin of the Company coat of arms is un-known; however Grant of Arms was presented in 1982.

Bridge Magazine Articles by Court Assistant Dr. Paul Bostock
Court Assistant Dr Paul Bostock has been commissioned by Bridge Magazine to write articles on Playing cards to be published monthly throughout 2017/8. The articles are reproduced below as .PDF files with a new one each month as they are published in Brdge Magazine.

2018 Articles

2017 Articles

The Bridge Magazine website can be accessed through

Paul has placed his collection of Old English Playing Cards on a Website to allow access, the link below will take you to the site. With thanks to Paul.

Custom Marketing /Education Playing Cards
Frequently custom-made playing cards are used to promote an educational message, record an anniversary or celebration, and to market a particular product or institution. The Company has a wide experience in creating such cards and offers a service to other Livery Companies, Institutions and other Bodies to assist them in the creation of such cards, in return for a charitable donation. Contact the Prime Almoner, Barbara Ide JP, for more details.