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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.

Mapocho

Naipes Marca Mapocho, Santiago de Chile.

Naipes Marca Mapocho

Naipes Marca Mapocho, Santiago de Chile, based on Spanish designs of the 'Cadiz' pattern.

Naipes Marca Mapocho, Santiago

Above: Naipes Marca Mapocho, Santiago, 40 cards. Mapocho is the name of a river which runs through Santiago. The name 'Mapocho' can be read on the Ace, Two and Four of Coins. The Cavalier of Cups has the usual legend 'AHI VA' and the Four of Swords mentions a gold medal.

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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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Wüst Spanish pattern

Wüst Spanish pattern

Wüst Spanish pattern c.1910 advertising Cuban ‘Tropical’ beer.

Rodolfo de Olea : “El Elefante”

Rodolfo de Olea : “El Elefante”

“El Elefante” Cadiz pattern by Rodolfo de Olea Viaña, 1899.

Elephante No.50

Elephante No.50

‘Elephante No.50’ Cadiz pattern produced in Brazil, probably by Azevedo & Cia, Recife, c.1920.

Cádiz Pattern playing cards

Cádiz Pattern playing cards

Cádiz Pattern playing cards

Naipes ‘El Leon’ 1897

Naipes ‘El Leon’ 1897

Naipes ‘El Leon’ manufactured by Federico Hidalgo (Barcelona, 1897-1899).

Naipes “La Estrella” for BOLS by Igor Domicelj, Bs Aires, c.1954

Naipes “La Estrella” for BOLS by Igor Domicelj, Bs Aires, c.1954

Naipes “La Estrella” Spanish-suited playing cards made for BOLS gin by Igor Domicelj, Buenos Aires, c.1954

Bicicleta num.810

Bicicleta num.810

The United States Playing Card Co. issued Spanish versions of their flagship brand.

Naipes Barcelonesa by Vigor S.R.L., Bs As, 1960

Naipes Barcelonesa by Vigor S.R.L., Bs As, 1960

Naipes Barcelonesa Spanish-suited playing cards manufactured by Vigor S.R.L., Buenos Aires, 1960.

Naipes del Salitre

Naipes del Salitre

Playing cards recovered from the Northern Chile saltpetre workers. The cards are mostly from Spanish 'Cadiz' pattern decks, and several manufacturers can be identified.

Mapocho

Mapocho

Naipes Marca Mapocho, Santiago de Chile.

Spanish Cadiz-style pack

Spanish Cadiz-style pack

Traditional Spanish Cadiz-style pack manufactured by Müller & Cie, Schaffhausen, 1952.

Cadiz style by La Primitiva, Bs Aires c.1905.

Cadiz style by La Primitiva, Bs Aires c.1905.

Cadiz style playing cards manufactured by La Primitiva, Victoria 3179, Buenos Aires c.1905. The cards have the black 'Mercury' tax stamp on the four of cups.

Naipes Coraza, Comas, Barcelona, 1940s

Naipes Coraza, Comas, Barcelona, 1940s

Naipes Coraza, Hija de Antonio Comas, Barcelona, 1940s.

Cards for export to Peru by Heraclio Fournier

Cards for export to Peru by Heraclio Fournier

'El Caballo' brand (No.5P) playing-cards manufactured in Spain by Heraclio Fournier S.A. especially for the Estanco de Naipes del Perú, c.1960.

Naipes El Heraldo, Cádiz

Naipes El Heraldo, Cádiz

“El Heraldo” brand by Segundo de Olea Aguilera, c.1925.

Juan Roura, Cadiz pattern

Juan Roura, Cadiz pattern

Cádiz type playing cards made by Juan Roura for export to Spanish-speaking countries.

Naipes Aguila Antigua Opaca

Naipes Aguila Antigua Opaca

Naipes Aguila Antigua Opaca, La Cubana, S.A. (Fabrica de Naipes El Aguila), Mexico, c.1960.

Naipes Aguila Antigua Transparente

Naipes Aguila Antigua Transparente

Naipes Aguila Antigua Transparente, c.1960.

Naipes No. 71 Los Leones

Naipes No. 71 Los Leones

Naipes No. 71 Los Leones.

Naipes Cisne

Naipes Cisne

Although the wrapper gives the manufacturer's address in Sevilla, Spain, the cards were most likely manufactured in El Salvador by a local printer imitating Spanish cards

Litografía Fabbri, Lima, Peru, c.1900-20

Litografía Fabbri, Lima, Peru, c.1900-20

Litografía Fabbri, Lima, Peru, c.1900-20, printers of cigarette insert cards for tobacco companies.

Naipes y Casinos Industria Peruana

Naipes y Casinos Industria Peruana

Naipes Tipo Español “Naipes y Casinos” Industria Peruana.

Spanish-suited deck for the Estanco de Naipes del Perú

Spanish-suited deck for the Estanco de Naipes del Perú

Spanish-suited playing cards printed for the Estanco de Naipes del Perú.