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Published July 03, 1996 Updated July 10, 2023

Playing Cards in El Salvador

Cards were first imported to Central America from Spain, although local production has always existed. Today El Salvador has some local production of playing cards, which are often of rudimentary quality.

Salvador Cartotecnica Centroamericana Cisne El Borrego Hispasa Spanish Suited Add to Collection

El Salvador was named in 1524 by it's Spanish conqueror, Pedro de Alvardo, after the Holy Saviour. It's people are chiefly of mixed Spanish and Indian blood and speak Spanish. With the neighbouring Spanish-American colonies El Salvador freed itself from Spanish rule in 1821, and with the states of Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua formed the Central American Federation. The Federation was dissolved in 1839 when El Salvador became an independent republic.

Spanish playing cards from c.1500-c.1800

Above: Spanish playing cards exported to new Spanish colonies from c.1520 onwards. Cards like these would have been in use in El Salvador for the first 300 years or so after the first Spanish settlers arrived.

"El problema es que no se hacen muchas barajas aqui. Practicamente las unicas que se encuentran son las importadas porque son las que prefieren la gente de aqui. Son de mejor calidad, plastificadas etc. Como las de aqui son muy inferiores en este aspecto pues la gente no las compran y son escasas y solo se encuentra en alguna que otra tiendecita por ahi en el centro"

Cards were first imported to Central America from Spain, although local production has always existed. Today El Salvador has some local production of playing cards, which are often of rudimentary quality. Copies of Fournier's 'Castilian' design, as well as redrawings of the 19th century Cádiz pattern, can be found. Brands include Naipes HISPASA, Naipes El BORREGO and Naipes CISNE.

Naipes Hispasa

Above: Naipes Hispasa manufactured in El Salvador by Cartotecnica Centroamericana, S.A.   see more

Naipes El Borrego

Above: Naipes El Borrego manufactured in El Salvador   see more

Naipes Cisne

Above: Naipes Cisne manufactured in El Salvador by a local printer imitating Spanish cards   see more

Pilsener Lager Beer label from El Salvador designed as a playing card Dragon Cards by Francisco Flores Spanish National Cards by Felix Solesio
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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


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