Until the 19th century playing cards were imported into Uruguay from Spain. The local population was very fond of card games and the vice of gambling was often a problem. The Spanish treasury department was also able to raise revenues from playing cards and in 1778 a crown monopoly tax was imposed on tobacco and playing cards. In return for this, higher quality products were supposed to be made available, although in practice this never happened as the cards supplied from the Real Fábrica de Macharaviaya were always found to be deficient in quality. This royal enterprise was finally ended in 1812.
In 1830 Uruguay was proclaimed an independent republic. After the abolition of the Estanco de Tabacos y Naipes playing cards were imported from foreign countries such as Belgium, France, USA and Spain. There was a tax which applied to playing cards.
The 'Parisian' Spanish pattern became established in Uruguay based on examples imported from France. At some point (c.1960) Uruguayan manufacturers tried to 'modernise' the appearance of the pack with new court designs based loosely on Fournier's 'Castilian' pattern. This 'New Uruguayan' pattern is still produced today. The Spanish 'Catalan' pattern is also favoured. Some Anglo-American style packs have also been produced with interesting court card designs. Second only to Argentina, Uruguay has produced a number of Gaucho themed packs as well as a selection of novel designs and children's packs.
Known publishers and manufacturers include:
Market conditions are changing in Uruguay. Casabó S.A. have ceased producing playing cards and other more adaptable, new companies are emerging. Corporate publicity packs are currently being produced by Impresos Manrique and Plasur, who source their playing cards from various manufacturers. Packs destined for the Uruguayan market are also being produced anonymously or in neighbouring countries:
Left: Baraja Artiguista designed by Fray Solano García, 1816
Right: Naipes El Gaucho by Gráficos Unidos S.A., Montevideo, c.1960
Left: Naipes Tatú by M.C. de Casabó S.A., Montevideo c.1955
Right: Naipes Tito by Camilloni Hnos, Montevideo, c.1950
Left: Baraja 100 Años de Gloria by Nacadi S.R.L., 1999
Right: Playing cards designed by Alvaros, published by Eduardo Carrión, 2000