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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.

Gallo Intransparente

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

Clemente Jacques y Cia, S.A., Mexico

Cockerel trademark - Naipes Gallo - Clemente Jacques

Gallo Intransparente - registered in 1923 - is Clemente Jacques’ flagship deck of cards. Probably inspired by Fournier's ‘Castilian’ designs of the late nineteenth century, the Mexican version has a more elaborate design and a moderner period style. After an initial period of closer resemblance to the Spanish ‘medieval’ designs, the Mexican version emerged and has remained constant over the years; only the legends on some cards vary. Indeed, the ‘Gallo’ designs have become a sort of standard Mexican pattern, imitated by other Mexican manufacturers such as Pronaco and Productos Leo.

Gallo Extra Intransparente by Clemente Jacques y Cia S.A., Mexico, c.1950

Above: Gallo Extra Intransparente by Clemente Jacques y Cia, S.A., c.1950. The Sotas (Knaves) of Coins and Swords have the manufacturer's name printed down the edge.

Gallo Intransparente by Clemente Jacques y Cia S.A., Mexico, c.1950

Above: Gallo Intransparente by Clemente Jacques y Cia, S.A., c.1950. The Ace of Coins has no legend at the bottom, but the Sotas (Knaves) of Coins and Swords have the manufacturer's name printed down the edge.

Above: Gallo Intransparente by Clemente Jacques y Cia, S.A., c.1965.

wrappers - Naipe Opaco Gallo - Clemente Jacques y Cia

Above: earlier edition of Gallo Extra Intransparente by Clemente Jacques y Cia showing some design differences in the clothing on the Sota of Coins and inscriptions on the Four of Coins. The legends on the medallions also change between 'Naipe Opaco' and 'Opaco Extra'.

Right: the design of the wrappers changes over the years, but the cockerel trademark usually appears somewhere. The medallions shown on the wrappers are those mentioned in the text on the Fours of Cups. Since 1990 Naipes 'Gallo' were manufactured by Pasatiempos Gallo S.A. de C.V. and presented in plastic boxes.

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Further reading:

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

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

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