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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 de Truco

Naipes de Truco manufactured by Gráfica 2001 for Editorial Perfil, Buenos Aires, 1999

box from Naipes de Truco manufactured by Gráfica 2001 for Editorial Perfil, Buenos Aires, 1999 detail from the Ace of Coins from Naipes de Truco manufactured by Gráfica 2001 for Editorial Perfil, Buenos Aires, 1999

Naipes de Truco

manufactured by Gráfica 2001 for Editorial Perfil, Buenos Aires, 1999

Carlos Gardel became the tango's first international superstar, aided by the emerging gramophone and radio industries. His portrait, seen here on the Ace of Coins, the reverse and the box, attests to his legendary status. Featuring characters and icons from the culture of the Argentine Tango, the cards were distributed with a weekly music magazine and needed to be collected over many weeks to obtain a complete set of 40 cards! A bandoneon is shown on the ace.

Naipes de Truco manufactured by Gráfica 2001 for Editorial Perfil, Buenos Aires, 1999 Naipes de Truco manufactured by Gráfica 2001 for Editorial Perfil, Buenos Aires, 1999

Above: Gardel charismatically smiles from this special pack manufactured by Gráfica 2001 for Editorial Perfil, Buenos Aires, 1999. These cards are probably one of the earliest examples of a digitally-produced pack of playing cards using photoshopped artwork. The cards were distributed with a weekly music magazine, making it hard to complete a set!

Naipes de Truco manufactured by Gráfica 2001 for Editorial Perfil, Buenos Aires, 1999
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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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