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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.

Mario Colombo

Naipes "OBELISCO" by Mario Colombo, Rodriguez Peña 385, Buenos Aires (Argentina), c.1950.

Naipes OBELISCO by Mario Colombo, Buenos Aires, c.1950

Mario Colombo

Naipes "OBELISCO" by Mario Colombo, Rodriguez Peña 385, Buenos Aires, c.1950

Mario Colombo's "Naipes Obelisco" - described as naipe fino para poker but printed on low grade stock - feature an Ace of Spades and Jokers directly copied from those of John Waddington (England). Mario Colombo also produced Taroquis "Obelisco" for which the address was given as Rodriguez Peña 335. There may have been a typographical error as here it is given as Rodriguez Peña 385. Although Mario Colombo is named as the manufacturer, the cards were probably produced by Ernesto Flaiban who was also printing virtually identical cards for E. A. Chemmes, E.P. Franco and others around this time.

Right: the box shows a drawing of the obelisk built in 1936 in commemoration of the founding of the city of Buenos Aires.

Naipes OBELISCO by Mario Colombo, Buenos Aires, c.1950

Above: Naipes "OBELISCO" by Mario Colombo, Rodriguez Peña 385, Buenos Aires (Argentina), c.1950. 52 cards + 2 jokers in box, available with either blue or brown backs.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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

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