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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.

Naipe Victoria

Naipe Victoria by Clemente Jacques c.1900.

Naipe Victoria by Clemente Jacques, c.1900

Naipes de Primera ~ Clase Segunda Nº2 ~ Marca Registrada

This early edition of Spanish-suited playing cards produced by Clemente Jacques (Mexico) only varies slightly from the 'Castilian' designs published by Heraclio Fournier in the 1880s by which it was inspired. The King of Clubs wears a short tunic and the Sota of Coins holds the suit symbol in his (or her) right hand. These designs would continue to evolve until emerging as Jacques' distinctive designs for ‘Gallo Intransparente’ which became their standard pattern, and which were copied widely by Mexican manufacturers.

Naipe Victoria by Clemente Jacques, c.1900

Above: ‘Naipe Victoria’ by Clemente Jacques, c.1900. 40 cards, rounded corners. Some editions are known with square corners. The manufacturer's name does not appear on any card. The Four of Cups has some printed details including the year of registration, 1896. The designs in this edition are already differentiating themselves from the 'Castilian' designs published by Heraclio Fournier in the 1880s, and although very similar appear to have been registered by Clemente Jacques in 1896.


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

García Martín, Enrique: Una hipótesis sobre el origen de la baraja “Gallo” de Clemente Jacques, in LA SOTA no.34, Asescoin, Madrid, March 2006

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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.