Pan Am Playing Cards
Playing cards have always been popular with airline passengers both as a way of passing time in flight and also as a memento of a flight. Below on the left are playing cards from the 1950s. Based on the newer style logo on the cards on the right I would estimate that they were issued by Pan Am between 1958 and 1965. Both sets of cards are destination cards that showed Pan Am worldwide destinations on the face of the cards.
The 1950s card box was cut away on the back side to show a sampling of the destinations on the cards. The picture of Istanbul on top is from the 1950s deck. In the later deck of cards a sample destination card was glued to the back of the box, in this case London on the bottom.
The last style of playing cards produced by Pan Am were a silver on black and silver on white version of the stylized logo seen below. I believe these were produced from about 1989 until 1991 when Pan Am shut down. It was in 1988 that then Pan Am Chairman Tom Plasket attempted to spruce up the Pan Am image by incorporating grays and silver. Ticket jackets were changed to silver with a bright blue Pan Am logo. Economy aircraft seats were changed from bright colors to navy blue with gray accents. Lavatory and galley panels were also changed to silver / gray motif. At the very bottom are specialty cards produced by Pan Am in the mid 1980s when they were performing a lot of charter work for NFL teams. These cards would not have been available on regular Pan Am flights.
In the mid 1960s Pan Am had two styles of playing cards. Below on the left is the white background with blue lettering. While, on the left is the blue background with white lettering. I believe both were produced at the same time and would have been available on any given flight based on commissary provisioning.
In the early 1970s Pan Am produced six different destination playing cards. Once again multiple destination cards would have been available on flights. Below in the top row left are the England playing cards showing green trees. In the center position are USA cards which showed water and fields with purple hues. In the right position are the New Zealand cards which showed both water and land with more blue hues. In the bottom row left is Africa with elephants and golden hues. In the center position is Hawaii with palm trees and both yellow and purple hues. Finally, in the lower right is Morocco showing a stone gate and desert hues. All of these cards are still sealed in their plastic wrap which creates a glare. On the top third of the cards is a gold band used to open the cards. Under the gold band is the Pan Am logo.
Also, in the early 1970s Pan Am created a sub brand to offer package tours. This brand was known as “Pan Am’s World.” Playing cards were also produced for Pan Am’s World substituting that name in lieu of the traditional “Pan Am.” The Pan Am’s World cards are rare. Below is a sample in the Morocco motif.
In 1977 Pan Am produced special playing cards to celebrate their 50th anniversary which is seen below on the left. This same gold “50 Years Experience” motif was used on other catering items including napkins and glasses. In the center and left position are playing cards that were introduced in the 1978-1979 time period. This pattern was a modern rendition of the Clipper Ship logo. The “Clipper” theme had been a part of Pan Am since the flying boat days.
In the early 1980s Pan Am changed playing card styles again and offered cards in a stylized version of the Pan Am logo with lines running out from the globe. On the left is the first version. About 1986-77, in an effort to reduce costs Pan Am began to “co-brand” certain in flight products. Suddenly, there were Pepsi napkins and Country Time Lemonaide ice buckets (economy only). Below on the right are the “co-branded” playing cards featuring Bailey’s Irish Cream.
The Virtual Pan Am Museum