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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.

Naipes Nacionales

Naipes Nacionales designed by Manuel Bayardi and published by Clemente Jacques y Cia, Mexico c.1940.

Naipes Nacionales, Mexico, c.1940

Aztec playing cards celebrating the history and customs of the Mexican people...

Naipes Nacionales were designed by Manuel Bayardi and published by Clemente Jacques y Cia., Mexico in c.1940. The designs are based on the clothing, decorations and weapons of the Aztec people after having been researched by Mr Bayardi in manuscripts and the National Museum. The suit symbols are the traditional Spanish ones: coins, clubs, cups & swords. The printing is by chromolithography in eight colours. Decks were issued as single decks (40 cards in a paper wrapper) and also in double boxed sets with matching back designs in blue and red. The back design features an Aztec calendar with four cups.

Naipes Nacionales, designed by Manuel Bayardi and published by Clemente Jacques y Cia, Mexico c.1940

Above: the magnificent 'Naipes Nacionales' designed by Manuel Bayardi and published by Clemente Jacques y Cia, Mexico c.1940   (click image to zoom).  The name of the manufacturer appears on the Jacks of Cups and Clubs. Although the suit symbols are traditional Spanish ones, the court cards are apparently based on persons from Aztec history but are not identified on the cards. Some anachronisms have crept in, as the Aztecs apparently did not ride on horseback although the native Mexican Indian people did acquire horses from the Spaniards.

Manuel Bayardi is possibly the same person whose biography is shown here →.   According to research carried out by Enrique García, the brand name ‘Naipes Nacionales’ had been registered by Clemente Jacques y Cia as early as 1895 and again in 1912. The designs of the earlier editions appear to have been by a different artist and were more rudimentary than those shown here.


References:

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

García Martín, Enrique: Los Naipes en el Cono Sur Americano, in LA SOTA no.17, Asescoin, Madrid, October 1997

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

See also:   Naipe VictoriaSouvenir of MexicoEl FenixEl LeónGallo Intransparente

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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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