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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.

Ernesto Flaiban, Buenos Aires

Ernesto Flaiban, Buenos Aires, 1942-1970

Quality ControlFlaiban y CamilloniPoker “Paisanito”Paisanito S.R.L.Naipes GalgoTela de Araña

E. Flaiban S.R.L. was founded by Ernesto Flaiban in 1942 as a general printer with premises at Corrientes 3679 & Sadi Carnot 646/48/50 (renamed Esperanza 646/48/50), Buenos Aires. In 1952 the firm became E. Flaiban S.A. and in 1955 new manufacturing premises were acquired at Santa Rosa and offices at Venezuela 1949 and Mario Bravo 525-9.

New techniques, such as a process for manufacturing two-ply board using black glue and improved varnishing, led to the cards having a quality comparable to those imported from Spain or France. Over the years the firm became very successful and produced a range of products including school notebooks, envelopes, containers, office stationery and playing cards.

All these different products shared the same brand names: "Galgo", "Paisanito", "Patito", "Tehuelche", "Tito", "Aparcero", "Tiburón", "Tela de Araña" and "Fragata".

At its height the factory was producing in the order of 6,000 packs per day, staying off foreign competitors. In 1952, Paisanito S.R.L. was set up with premises at Rio Limay 1527-29, but was re-merged with the parent firm shortly afterwards due to legal reasons. During the second half of the 1960s profits declined and the business was finally closed down in 1970.

Thanks to Diego Flaiban for historical information about E. Flaiban.

E. Flaiban Playing Card Works, Buenos Aires c.1967

Above: card faces being pulled from the machine. The backs were printed separately, and then both sheets were glued together and given a satin finish.

E. Flaiban playing card Works, Buenos Aires c.1967 E. Flaiban playing card Works, Buenos Aires c.1967
Naipes Galgo, c.1970

Above: Naipes Galgo.

c.1955 c.1952-3

Above: Four of cups from a "Paisanito" pack, c.1955. Flaiban was temporarily succeeded by Paisanito S.R.L. (1952-3) but the partnership was wound down.

Above: Two jokers from a "Naipes Tela de Araña" deck, showing the address as: Mario Bravo 525.

Above: Joker from "Naipes Tela de Araña" pack giving address of sales office as Venezuela 1949.

Above: Three cards from a "Naipes Tela de Araña" pack manufactured for FIAT automobiles (c.1968) showing the address of the sales offices as: Mario Bravo 525/9 with 5 telephone lines.

E. Flaiban brands, Buenos Aires