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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.

El Fenix

Naipe Fino 'El Fenix' playing cards by Clemente Jacques y Cia, Mexico

Naipe Fino ‘El Fenix’

Clemente Jacques y Cia, Mexico

Clemente Jacques' Naipe Fino ‘El Fenix’ is one of several alternative names for the same pack. In it's earliest days it was titled ‘Club’ (c.1900-20), then ‘Casino’ (1920s), ‘Minerva’ (1950s), ‘El Fenix’ (c.1960-70s) and ‘Valenciano’. Normal sized and patience sized packs are known and in later editions the cardboard is very thin and translucent.

Naipe Fino El Fenix by Clemente Jacques y Cia, Mexico, c.1960

Above: Naipe Fino ‘El Fenix’ by Clemente Jacques y Cia S.A., Mexico, c.1960-70. 40 cards. The manufacturer's name can be read on the Four of Coins and the Pages of Swords and Coins. The manufacturer's address is given on the box as: Oriente 237 No.50, Mexico 9, D.F. This is not the usual address, which was usually F.C. de Cintura 1.

In 1970 the former Clemente Jacques y Cia, S.A. changed hands and was renamed Pasatiempos Gallo S.A. In 1990 it became Pasatiempos Gallo S.A. de C.V.

El Fenix playing cards by Pasatiempos Gallo S.A. Mexico c.2000

Above: ‘El Fenix’ Spanish-suited playing cards made by Pasatiempos Gallo S.A. de C.V., Mexico, c.2000. 40 cards. Some small details have changed from the above edition but on the whole the designs are the same; the Ace of Coins has the legend ‘El Fenix’ in white with a bird's head above. The index number ‘1’ on the Ace of Coins is in a larger font size. The manufacturer's name can be read on the Four of Coins and the Pages of Swords and Coins.


References:

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