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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.

Naipes Porteño by C. Della Penna S.A.C.I., Buenos Aires, c.1960

Naipes PORTEÑO Spanish-suited playing cards manufactured by C. Della Penna S.A.C.I., Buenos Aires, c.1955-60.

Naipes PORTEÑO by C. Della Penna S.A.C.I., Buenos Aires, c.1955-60

Naipes Porteño was one of Della Penna's leading brands of Spanish-suited playing cards, alongside Naipes Inca. It was produced in successive editions until the company was taken over in 1978. Over the years the logo on the four of cups changed. In this example, clouds have been added above the Palacio del Congreso logo on the four of cups. The cards are presented in a cardboard box, not just a paper wrapper as in earlier editions.

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Naipes PORTEÑO Spanish-suited playing cards manufactured by C. Della Penna S.A.C.I., Buenos Aires, c.1955-60

Above: cards and box from standard edition of Naipes Porteño by C. Della Penna S.A.C.I., dating from c.1955-60. The four of cups shows the "Marianne" tax stamp and the "Palacio del Congreso" logo with clouds added. In later editions this logo was replaced with a view of Buenos Aires port. The design of the court cards is a simplified version of the Spanish Catalan pattern which has become the typical design found in Argentina. The little bunches of grapes on the five of swords is only found on Della Penna's cards. However, the same ace of coins is used as in Naipes Inca.

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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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