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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

Argentinian Playing Cards - Naipes Argentinos

Playing cards were introduced to the Americas with Spanish explorers such as Columbus or Cortés.

Playing Cards in Argentina employ Spanish suit symbols: cups, swords, coins and clubs (termed copas, espadas, oros and bastos).
See List of Manufacturers →

Naipes Criollos

Above left: Argentinean playing cards, made in Buenos Aires in 1815 by M.J. Gandarillas, a Chilean immigrant. The ace of coins shows the emblem of the newly established Federal Republic, the four of cups a rising sun within a laurel wreath. The remainder of the pack resembles the Spanish National pattern. more →

Above right: ace of coins and king of swords by José Maria Quercia y Possi, an Italo-Chilean immigrant who also set up business in Buenos Aires in 1815. The pack is based on the Spanish Maciá pattern. more →

Above: La Primitiva, Bs As., playing card manufacturer c.1880-1920  more →

It is assumed that playing cards had been introduced to the Americas with explorers such as Columbus or Cortés. Cards would almost certainly have travelled from Spain, and stories are told of them being improvised from drum-skins. Later, locally-made cards were deemed illegal by the Spanish authorities who wished to exploit their monopoly, for which purpose the 'Real Fábrica de Naipes de Macharaviaya' (1776-1815) was established, officially supplying playing cards for Central and South American colonies and controlled by the 'Ministerio de Hacienda' in Madrid. These cards are in the so-called 'National Spanish' style.

However, there were many problems with the cards, including poor quality and high prices in comparison with locally manufactured ones. In 1815 the 'Real Fábrica' was closed and once again local playing card industries were legally licensed to operate in their respective countries. Manuel José de Gandarillas was the first manufacturer to set up business in 1815, and by 1830 there were at least four playing card manufacturers operating in Buenos Aires. See complete list here.

Argentinian playing cards have followed Spanish styles, notably the Maciá, Cádiz and Catalan patterns which became established during the 19th century based on models imported from Spain, notably by Fló Hnos and Bertrand Domec.

Duty was first introduced on playing cards in Argentina in 1892, as part of the Internal Duties law, and in 1896 the first duty labels were printed to be used on packets of 1 gross packs. In 1899 these were replaced by bands, initially for a dozen packs and then for single packs   more →

Naipes para Truco 'Falta Envido', 1982

Many packs published in Argentina contain references to Argentina's national identity such as National Symbolism, Politics, Gauchos, Tango dance, Bull Breeding and Folklore. However, for everyday games requiring a Spanish-suited pack, a simple version of the Spanish Catalan pattern is commonly used. Native Indian cards, modelled on the Spanish pack, are a curious spin-off.

Several varieties of Cartomancy, Fortune-Telling, Tarock and Tarot packs have been produced in Argentina, as well as a number of souvenir packs, card games, advertising packs, etc.

Angus playing cards designed by Gustavo A. Pueyrredón, c.1975

Above: Angus playing cards designed by Gustavo A. Pueyrredón, c.1975  more →

Casa Escasany

Above: Casa Escasany

sketch for playing card by Leonor Fini

Above: Leonor Fini

special pack designed by ‘Caloi’ for Cigarrillos PARLIAMENT

Above: Caloi


Above: Figuritas Golazo collectible football cards, 1973  more →

Above: “Desafio” Spanish-suited playing cards with caricatures of football players on every card, c.2000.

Above: World Cup ’98 caricatures.

Above: Axe Deodorant Playing Cards by Zecat, Argentina, c.2004  more →

Above: 125th anniversary of the Argentinian “Servicio de Hidrografía Naval”, 2004  more →

Above: Naipes Truco “Únicos” designed by Gerardo N. Perez, 2006  more →

Above: Naipes Gauchescos Argentinos, 2004.  more →

Above: ‘Naipe Criollo Caraí Pujol’ with Gaucho designs by Julio F. Parada Seifert, 2005.  more →

Above: ‘Gaucho’ Spanish-suited deck made in Argentina, 2001.  more →

Above: El Rodeo Talabartería.  more →

Roche Pharmaceutical playing cards, 1980s

Above: Roche Pharmaceutical deck, 1980s  more →

Spanish playing cards with Pre-Columbian designs from Argentina, 2001

Above: Cartas Precolombinas, 2001  more →

Above: Naipes Garaycochea, c.2002  more →

Above: ‘Black Tango’ playing cards published by Gardés Editorial, 2003  more →

Above: Naipes de Poker “Milonguita”, Gardés Editorial, 2003  more →

La Cumparsita Tango deck manufactured in Argentina, anonymous manufacturer, 2001

Above: La Cumparsita Tango deck, 2001  more →

Article in Infobae 10th May 2005

Article in Infobae 10th May 2005 Tax stamps Naipes Argentinos Aparcero Baraja POPULAR

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.