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Chocolate playing cards with scenes from World War 1

An extraordinary Spanish pack of chocolate advertising playing cards dating from 1920

Chocolate playing cards are not made of chocolate, but are cards advertising chocolate products. They were especially popular is Spain during the 1920's and 1930's although some date back to end of the 19th. century. During their peak packs were produced depicting famous film stars of the era, popular sporting figures, renowned bullfighters and cartoon characters. The packs were always Spanish suited, often with modified suit signs, with advertising on the backs of the cards. The cards could often be collected individually as insert cards from packets of chocolate.

This scarce pack of playing cards is unusual because of the subject matter. The front of the cards show a reduced size standard Spanish pattern card with advertising on each end for Chocolate Angelical from Barcelona. The cards were made by Simeón Durá of Valencia, shown on the 4 of swords, the four of coins indicating 'Poker Español' and the 4 of cups indicating the registered brand name 'El Cid', used by Simeón Durá over a long period.

However, this extraordinary pack has beautifully detailed scenes of land, sea and air battles in oval frames on the reverse of each card, 48 in total, all printed in colourful chromolithography. There is a short description in Spanish. The reverse of each ace has a gallery of leaders and military figures from the different countries involved in the war. It is possible that the cards were collected separately, but I am not sure if that is the case with this pack.
To be able to fully appreciate the artistry of this pack I have scanned all 48 cards which can be seen below. The artist is unknown. An earlier version of this pack showed the battle scenes in rectangular frames.

References:

  • The Playing Cards of Spain, Trevor Denning 1996, Plate 5
  • La Sota 4, No.33

All cards shown are from the collection of Paul Symons ©.

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By Paul Symons

Member since February 01, 2016

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I'm British but I have now lived in the Netherlands for 50 years and have enjoyed every minute of it. I started collecting playing cards in the early 1980’s after speaking with my neighbour who was at that time a croupier in a casino. I started with just collecting jokers, but that soon led me to complete packs of cards and eventually to specialising in old and antique playing cards, particularly those of C.L. Wüst of Frankfurt, Germany. I am presently the Dutch representative of the I.P.C.S. and the auctioneer at the IPCS conventions.


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