Revenues from the sales of playing cards in Central and South America had been a state monopoly since 1552, in the reign of Felipe II, who had issued a decree setting out the terms by which it was to be regulated. Packs were to be sold in paper wrappers tied with string and officially stamped. Officers were appointed to be in charge of ensuring the business was run correctly. To begin with cards destined for the Americas were manufactured solely in Mexico but due to irregular production as well as illegal imports (probably Italian) new orders were given in 1777 that they should also be produced in Spain.
The Real Fábrica de Madrid had been in existence since at least 1758, but in 1776 a Royal Letters Patent was issued authorising Don Félix Solesio to establish the Real Fábrica de Macharaviaya to supply playing cards to the Americas and particularly to Mexico - Para las Indias. The new factory was quickly built: it is recorded that in September 1777 15,000 decks produced in Macharaviaya were shipped to Mexico. Solesio was a distinguished name in the playing card industry, and as it happens, Félix Solesio's brother Lorenzo had been appointed master craftsman in the Portuguese Real Fábrica de Cartas de Jogar in 1769.
The date of closure of the Macharaviaya factory is reckoned to be around 1800.
Several derivatives of this design have survived in various parts of the world, such as French Aluette cards, Parisian Spanish pattern (used in Uruguay) and cards used in North Africa. See also: Phelippe Ayet • Baraja Morisca • History of Playing Cards • Seville 17th Century • Spanish National Pattern • Navarra 17th Century • Pedro Bosio and Money Bag pattern • Portuguese Playing Cards • Rotxotxo Workshop Inventory • Joan Barbot • Gandarillas • Naipes Artiguistas • Spain Homepage • Mexico.
Acknowledgement: Ferro Torrelles, Víctor: Real Cédula aprobando el establecimiento de la Fábrica de Naipes de Macharaviaya in La Sota Nº 16, Asescoin, Madrid, March 1997, pp.67-75