The World of Playing Cards Logo The World of Playing Cards Logo

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.

Grimaud Spanish pattern

Grimaud Spanish pattern, c.1880

Grimaud standard Spanish pattern for export to Spanish markets, including South American countries such as Argentina or Uruguay. Since the 1840s & 50s playing cards had been exported to these markets by leading European manufacturers who had importing agents based in Montevideo, Buenos Aires or Caracas, and in many cases the designs became a strong influence on local production.

Grimaud Spanish pattern, c.1880

Above: Grimaud Spanish pattern, c.1880. The four of cups has a rising sun and the inscriptions "De una Hoja" and "B.P. Grimaud y Cia". Images courtesy José Manuel Murcia.