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Published July 03, 1996 Updated July 15, 2022

Playing Cards from Mexico

MEXICO shares a long tradition with Spain in the field of playing cards. The Estanco de Naipes (playing-card monopoly) was established in 1576.

Mexico Amerindian Spanish Suited

EXICO shares a long tradition with Spain in the field of playing cards. The early Spanish colonists carried packs of cards with them. When these wore out new ones would have been made from local materials, maybe drum skins, rawhide or paper. The first printing press was established in Mexico in 1539 by Juan Pablos, who had come over from Italy. Cards were undoubtedly very popular, since prohibitions were passed as early as 1539 and the Estanco de Naipes (playing-card monopoly) was established in 1576.

The manufacturer F. Munguia commenced producing playing-cards in Mexico in 1868 with the brand names La Campana and La Estrella. A few years later, in 1872, a certain P. Munguia started production, but it is not known whether the two businesses were related. However, La Cubana S.A. became the successors of P. Munguia and continued producing playing cards with the brand names La Campana and La Estrella. Their 1960s catalogue shows an extended range of playing card brands as well as other products.

Cockerel trademark - Naipes Gallo - Clemente JacquesOne of the more influential, and widely plagiarised, Mexican designs has been Clemente Jacques’ “Marca Gallo” playing cards, first published in the 1920s and still produced today by Pasatiempos Gallo S.A. Clemente Jacques also produced the magnificent Naipes Nacionales →

In 1583 one Alonso Martínez de Orteguilla was authorised to administer the manufacture and sale of playing cards in New Mexico (which included Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras). Playing cards were supplied from Seville and France, as well as manufactured in Mexico under licence.

By the end of the XVI century over 100,000 packs per annum were being manufactured in Mexico which sold for three reales each and were preferred to those imported from Spain.

Mexico re-gained independence in 1821. Local manufacturers were free once again to produce their own cards, although cards also continued to be imported. Many packs from this period are anonymous and their manufacturers cannot be identified. The designs usually followed the Spanish National pattern and its derivatives, as well as new Mexican designs shown in these pages.

Playing Cards from Mexico

"Los naipes, un juego muy antiguo difundido entre los orientales y los europeos, llegaron hasta América desde los primeros encuentros de las dos civilizaciones. Los navegantes de Cristóbal Colón se entretenían al jugar cartas durante el trayecto del viaje y de igual manera, los pasajeros que viajaron de Europa a las Indias eran jugadores apasionados que se valían de los naipes para matar las largas horas que la nao recorría hasta llegar a su destino.…"

Anonymous miniature playing cards from Mexico, c.2000

Above: anonymous miniature cards

Other Mexican manufacturers and producers include Bartolo Borrego • Emilio Cuenca • Enrique Guerrero • Gómez Hermanos • Comercial y Manufacturera • Productos Artísticos Osiris • Aeronaves de MexicoPronaco • Productos Leo • Naipes El ReyProductos GacelaJuegos y Fichas S.A.Productos CamachoMiguel GalasOrpamex (Organización Papelera Mexicana) • Productos El Cisne • Grupo Editorial RAF S.A. • Anahuac • Naipes El Venado • Naipes Ramar • Casa Velux • AGSA Comercial • Gráficas Menhir • Multicolor S.A. • Promociones Tauro • Foliproa • Norte S.A. • Mercurio Comunicación and other anonymous makers →.

Playing Cards in Mexico employ Spanish suit symbols: cups, swords, coins and clubs - termed copas, espadas, oros and bastos.

Bartolo Borrego, 1836 Mexico c.1835 anonymous Mexican pack, c.1850 F. Munguia, c.1868
Baraja Cuahutemoc, c.1950 Marca Gallo Intransparente by Clemente Jacques, Mexico Naipe El Ferrocarril by La Cubana S.A. Baraja Taurina detail from special pack for Aeronaves de Mexico S.A., designed by Ramón Valdiosera Berman, mid-1960s


García Martín, Enrique: "Clemente Jacques", in LA SOTA no.15, Asescoin, Madrid, September 1996

García Martín, Enrique: "Las Barajas de Símbolos Españoles en América", in LA SOTA no.25, Asescoin, Madrid, September 2001

Grañen Porrúa, María Isabel: "Hermes y Moctezuma, un Tarot Mexicano del Siglo XVI".

Links to other Latin American Countries:   Argentina    Brazil    Chile    Colombia    Cuba    Dominican Republic    Ecuador    El Salvador    Galapagos    Guatemala    Honduras    Panama    Paraguay    Peru    Puerto Rico    Uruguay    Venezuela


By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator 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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Spanish pattern by Productos Leo, S.A.

Spanish pattern by Productos Leo, S.A.

Colourful Mexican version of standard Spanish designs, by Productos Leo, S.A., c.1980s.

Inka Naipe Souvenir

Inka Naipe Souvenir

54 colour photographs of costumes and artefacts connected with the Inca civilisation, unknown publisher, Arequipa, Peru.

1850 Alphonse Arnoult Spanish-suited pack

Alphonse Arnoult Spanish-suited pack

Luxurious Spanish-suited pack made by Alphonse Arnoult, Paris, France, c.1850.

1910 Wüst Spanish pattern

Wüst Spanish pattern

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

1976 Maya Deck

Maya Deck

The Maya Deck produced by Stancraft for Hoyle, 1976.

1985 Tonalamatl


Baraja Tonalamatl Mexican Aztec playing cards based on the prehispanic Codex Borgia manuscript.

Hermanos Solesi

Hermanos Solesi

“Money Bag” pattern by Hermanos Solesi, late 18th c.

1994 Kem ‘Spanish’ playing cards

Kem ‘Spanish’ playing cards

Kem ‘Spanish’ playing cards appear to depict Spanish conquistadors © 1994.

1995 Trinidad Carnival Playing Cards

Trinidad Carnival Playing Cards

“Allfours Carnival Playing Cards” designed by Gabby Woodham, Trinidad, 1995

2003 Baraja Taurina Toranzo

Baraja Taurina Toranzo

Baraja Taurina Mexicana Toranzo with paintings by Antonio Navarrete, 2003

1923 Gallo Intransparente

Gallo Intransparente

Gallo Extra Intransparente by Clemente Jacques y Cia S.A., Mexico.

Cádiz Pattern playing cards

Cádiz Pattern playing cards

Cádiz Pattern playing cards

2001 Cartas Precolombinas

Cartas Precolombinas

Spanish playing cards with Pre-Columbian designs from Argentina, 2001.

1897 Naipes ‘El Leon’ 1897

Naipes ‘El Leon’ 1897

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

1975 El Aguila

El Aguila

Naipes ‘El Aguila’ with flamboyantly dressed court figures made in Mexico by La Cubana S.A., c.1975.

2000 Pedro Domecq

Pedro Domecq

Anglo-American pattern for Pedro Domecq Mexican brandy made by Productos Leo S.A., c.2000.

2002 Selección Nacional de Fútbol

Selección Nacional de Fútbol

‘Selección Nacional de Fútbol’ playing cards published in Mexico by Novelty Corp de México S.A. de C.V., 2002.

2009 Naipes ‘La Criolla’ by Anabella Corsi

Naipes ‘La Criolla’ by Anabella Corsi

Inspired by an archaic Spanish pattern formerly used in Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries.

1815 Naipes Artiguistas, 1816

Naipes Artiguistas, 1816

Naipes Artiguistas published in Concepción del Uruguay, Entre Rios province (Argentina) in 1816, by Fray Solano García.

1875 Anon Spanish Cards c.1875

Anon Spanish Cards c.1875

Spanish-suited playing cards made in Belgium by Léonard Biermans, c.1875.

1970 Canary Islands Souvenir

Canary Islands Souvenir

Canary Islands Souvenir by Heraclio Fournier, c.1970.

1951 Martínez de León

Martínez de León

Bull-fighters pack published by Hijos de Heraclio Fournier, Vitoria (Spain) with artwork by Andrés Martínez de León, 1951.

Naipes Españoles “El Mexicano”

Naipes Españoles “El Mexicano”

Standard Catalan-type deck, titled "El Mexicano", by an anonymous Argentinean manufacturer, c.1980s.

1871 Apache cards by Tonto Naipero

Apache cards by Tonto Naipero

Apache rawhide playing cards by ‘Tonto Naipero’, c.1871.

1875 Ojibwa Native Indian Cards

Ojibwa Native Indian Cards

Ojibwa Native Indian playing cards hand manufactured on birch bark in imitation of standard French / English cards, c.1875.

1945 In der Fuehrer’s Face

In der Fuehrer’s Face

“In der Fuehrer’s Face” playing cards designed in 1945 by Antonio Arias Bernal, a Mexican artist, but not published until 2002.

2008 Foto Joker

Foto Joker

'Foto Joker' Spanish playing cards for Matera Color Laboratory, 2008.

As Vencedores

As Vencedores

Two colourful Mexican packs by an anonymous manufacturer titled “As Vencedores” on the ace of coins, designed in the Mexican style, based on the Spanish ‘Castilian’ pattern.

2003 Baraja Hispanoamericana

Baraja Hispanoamericana

“Baraja Hispanoamericana” published by Asescoin, with artwork by Ortuño, illustrates memorable people from the discovery, colonisation and subsequent liberation of Hispanic America

2002 Baraja Charra Ernesto Icaza

Baraja Charra Ernesto Icaza

“Baraja Charra” with paintings by Ernesto Icaza, 2002.

1875 Apache Playing Cards

Apache Playing Cards

Apache Indian Playing Cards made on rawhide, first recorded 1875.

El Jokey by Piatnik, 1990s

El Jokey by Piatnik, 1990s

‘El Jokey’ Spanish-suited pack by Piatnik & Sons, Vienna, 1990s

Xilografías de Mallorca

Xilografías de Mallorca

Spanish National pattern re-printed from original woodblocks which are preserved in the monastery at Valdemosa, Mallorca, c.1960.

1975 Maya


“Maya” playing cards designed by Russian artist V. M. Sveshnikov and first published by The Colour Printing Plant, St Petersburg, in 1975.

Mapuche Indian Playing Cards

Mapuche Indian Playing Cards

Spanish-suited playing cards made on rawhide and said to have been used by Chilean Mapuche Indians, XVI-XVII century

1978 Philishave


Spanish-suited advertising deck for Philishave electric razors.

1995 Baraja Canaria

Baraja Canaria

‘La Auténtica Baraja Canaria’ was published in 1995 by Justo Pérez as an expression of the history and character of the Canary Islands.

1888 Jaime Margarit - Recreo Infantil

Jaime Margarit - Recreo Infantil

'Recreo Infantil' children's educational cards published by Jaime Margarit, Palamós (Gerona) c.1888.

1710 Benoist Laius

Benoist Laius

Spanish playing cards such as these were used in those parts of France where certain games were enjoyed, such as Aluette.

9: Standard English Cards From Latin America: Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela

9: Standard English Cards From Latin America: Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela

A continuation of the survey of designs used in Central and South America.