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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.

Perón political decks

La baraja ‘Popular’, featuring Juan Domingo Perón issued at the time of Perón's election campaign in 1951. The reverse shows silhouettes of Juan Domingo Perón and his wife Evita.

Perón became president in 1946. Perón’s politics was a populism of the right, which drew its support from lower middle classes. He was strongly influenced by Mussolini, with the difference that Perón sought to co-opt and empower labour and trade unions rather than repress them. His wife Eva became an icon. Perón drew power to himself: he quarreled with the Catholic Church. In 1955 the army moved against him and he was exiled to Spain. Allowed to return in 1973, he was elected president but died in less than a year. He was succeeded by his third wife, Isabel, but soon after the army stepped in again.

La Baraja ‘Popular’, 1951

Above: cards from la baraja ‘Popular’, a 48-card pack featuring Juan Domingo Perón on all four 12s, issued at the time of Perón's election campaign in 1951. The reverse shows silhouettes of Juan Domingo Perón and his wife Evita. The symbolism in the pack reflects Perón's political agenda, including solidarity with workers and gauchos as depicted on the Jacks and Cavaliers.

The back of the wrapper reads: "El naipe español es esencialmente usado por la mayoría de nuestro pueblo. A través de él, millares de personas dejan descargar alegrías y ansiedades. Es por eso que decidimos realizar esta serie llamada POPULAR, conteniendo modificaciones que no hacen a las posibilidades de juego, pero sí a darle mayor vivencia, a tratar de romper con lo monótono y fundamentalmente a que sean distintos."   See original →


Anti-Perón Satirical Pack

Anti-Peronist reproduction deck

Above: cards from original edition of anti-peronist playing cards deck, issued completely anonymously. Dire consequences would have befallen the author had they been identified. The ace of coins reads "Se Evita Nombrarlo" probably alluding the banning of the Peronist political party between 1955-1973. The barrel of films is a reference to Perón having forbidden films showing his wife Evita when she was an actress. All the coin symbols (tyres) show 'nafta' petrol rationing tokens in the centre. Perón himself is depicted with horns ('cornudo') because he was impotent or sterile ('cuckold').   (Wikipedia article in Spanish)

Anti-Peronist reproduction deck

Above: four cards from the reproduction of the anti-peronist playing cards deck published by Juan José Ruiz.

The 12 of batons shows Perón wearing a mask. The 10 of batons depicts a corrupt bandit-officer of the Perón administration. The ace of cups depicts victims of the 1944 earthquake and military personnel greedily hoarding money and property which had been intended to relieve the homeless victims of the earthquake. The 12 of coins shows an official loaded with gold grinning voraciously.

Anti-Peronist reproduction deck

Volviendo atràs: el As de Oro se dirige a Evita y sus lujos, que claro... todavìa se rematan sus anillos por valores cientos/millones de dòlares. El Oro sigue con los Bonos de Nafta: es una clàsica alusiòn a una coima gigantesca, propia de època. Y de la cual nadie me comentò verbalmente, ni encontrè en Google.

Luego en otros se alude directamente al respaldo dado por una parte del Ejèrcito Argentino a Peròn, pero con claras alusiones que el Gaucho no lo respaldaba. Borrachos de ALTÌSIMO NIVEL, y otros DE BAJÌSIMO NIVEL (entendiendo que son caricaturas) lo respaldan a Peròn. Pero... el As de Copas no alude; directamente plantea el gran terremoto en la Provincia de San Juan, y la gran colecta nacional que se hizo, donde se reuniò importantìsima cantidad de dinero. Claro... despuès no llegò a San Juan el dinero, segùn la caricatura. Hay un individuo que aparece en las Figuras, que al final terminò siendo una simple careta: el General Juliàn Farrell, descendiente de Irlandeses. En alguna baraja, Peròn se saca la careta de Farrell !!! (ademàs, asì lo indican los artìculos). Resumiendo: es una crìtica totalmente anònima, hecha pero con miedo, y ademàs como decìs nunca vista.

Anti-Peronist reproduction deck
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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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