One of the touchstone artifacts of my childhood, is the Eames House of Cards. First created by Charles Eames in 1952, the House of Cards, is a simple slotted card deck that allows for quick construction of towers or buildings. It is the images printed on the cards that make this toy deck astonishing, photographs of what Eames called “good stuff”. Drawn from the general categories of animal, vegetable, or mineral, these images burst with color, pattern and the vibrancy of what, many years later, would become “world beat” folk art. (hard to say which category this image of pharmaceuticals falls into, but I really like how retro it is)
The card set I have is from the mid to late sixties. It was created by Creative Playthings under license to Eames. I’m sure that Alexander Girard had an influence on the design. Girard was a colleague of Eames, who brought the imagery to many of their projects. (Girards’s personal collection of folk art, on display at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe has the exact same feel as the House of Cards) The deck is still available from the Museum of Modern Art.
An incredible, custom deck was designed for IBM to hand out at the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan. All the photographs were of computer components.