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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.

Spanish Cards c.1920

Spanish-suited Playing Cards manufactured by Van Genechten, c.1920

Spanish-Suited Playing Cards made in Belgium, c.1920

Cards from a Spanish-suited pack, in the Cadiz style, made in Belgium by Van Genechten, c.1920 for export to Spanish-speaking markets (Spain, Latin America, North Africa). As it happens this design is more or less an exact replica copy of a pack published in Cadiz by Viuda de González in 1850 which had already been supplied to Antoon Van Genechten at that time. The lion motif on the four of coins, as well as the caduceus and anchor, were common features on Spanish packs. The wrapper states 'A Todos Alumbra'.

Spanish-Suited Playing Cards, c.1920 Spanish-Suited Playing-Cards, c.1920