The World of Playing Cards Logo

Playing cards in Morocco

The earliest literary references to playing cards in Europe refer to the game having been introduced by a 'Saracen', and also to Moorish and Damascene varieties of playing card.

MOROCCO & ALGERIA

The earliest literary references to playing cards in Europe refer to the game having been introduced by a 'Saracen', and also to Moorish and Damascene varieties of playing card. We do not know for sure what these fourteenth century cards looked like… but for an idea click here and here.

It might be logical to assume that North Africa has always been supplied with Spanish suited cards, and that these came primarily from France or Spain.

The cards found in Morocco today are faithful replicas of the old “Spanish National Pattern,” a style of playing cards which emanated from Barcelona during the 17th century and was also made in Marseille. In most other countries where Spanish-suited cards are used the more Modern Catalan or Castilian patterns are usually found.

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries playing cards were imported into Morocco and Algeria from Spain and France by manufacturers such as Camoin, La Ducale, B.P. Grimaud and others. These were of the Spanish National pattern, based on the Félix Solesio designs produced by the Real Fábrica de Madrid at Macharaviaya (1776-1815).

Caballero de Copas from pack made by Imprimerie Royale, Casablanca

The Camoin firm closed down in 1971, but many clones of Camoin's cards have been, and still are being produced by a succession of Moroccan printers and cardboard manufacturers, usually from Casablanca. These include:

Malka Frères
Imprimerie Royale
Imprimerie de L'Entente
Imprimerie Litho-Type Marocaine
Maroc Cartes
Imprimerie Belles Impressions, S.A.

  …and other anonymous manufacturers or brands such as Cartes Lion, L'Elephant, L'Aigle or Sindibad. Morocco is now one of the last remaining countries to use the old Spanish National pattern.

What is noticeable about all these imitations is that, with one or two exceptions, they are all virtually identical, showing a strong adherence to tradition. Apart from a gradual simplification in the outlines, the main change has been the disappearance of the tethered goat in the background of the Sota (Jack) of coins in some of the lowest grade examples. With the modernisation of Morocco, perhaps traditions will loosen further…

See also: Maroc Souvenir.

Camoin for Morocco Grimaud for Algeria B.C.M.I. B.C.M.I.

Moroccan card wrappers

Malka Frères
A. CAMOIN & Cie
avatar

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

View Articles

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.


Leave a Reply

Recommended

Persian Miniatures

Persian Miniatures

Persian Miniatures, made in Hungary c.1990.

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah

Gold plated souvenir playing cards from the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel in Dubai.

Qajar Dynasty playing cards

Qajar Dynasty playing cards

Qajar Dynasty playing cards, Iran, 19th century.

Les Artisans Tunisiens

Les Artisans Tunisiens

“Les Artisans Tunisiens” Jeu de Sept Familles published by Éditions de la Mediterranée, Alpha S.A., Tunis

Boutros Arabic Playing Cards

Boutros Arabic Playing Cards

Arabic playing cards designed by Evy Maros & Mourad Boutros, c.1990

David Robert

David Robert

“David Robert” playing cards with artwork after Robert's Sketches in Egypt and Nubia.

Hafez Fortune Telling Cards

Hafez Fortune Telling Cards

Fortune Tellers use the Hafez Cards by interpreting the Hāfez poems printed on the card backs when cards are selected randomly by their consultants.

1991 Patience Indien

Patience Indien

Karl Gerich's “Patience Indien No.16”, published in 1991, is adapted from Grimaud's “Whist Indienne” (c.1900). The double-ended courts are dressed in Arab garb.

Iran

Iran

Representing Iranian culture and history and intended for a Persian market, these playing cards were designed by V. Romanowski de Boncza, ordered by the Iranian government playing card monopoly at the time and printed by Thomas De la Rue & Co., Ltd, c.1937.

Tunisia

Tunisia

Playing Cards in Tunisia. Chkobba is one of the most popular card games in Tunisia, mainly played by men in coffee shops but also played at home by men and women alike.

Anonymous

Anonymous

Anonymous Moroccan Playing Cards for Royal Air Maroc airlines and others...

Chaudsoleil Wine

Chaudsoleil Wine

Chaudsoleil Red Wine advertising playing cards from Morocco.

1420 Moorish playing cards

Moorish playing cards

These two uncoloured, uncut sheets of early Moorish playing cards were formerly preserved in the Instituto Municipal de Historia in Barcelona.

Mamluk Playing Cards

Mamluk Playing Cards

Nã'ib, the game of lieutenants... these cards are amongst the earliest Arabic playing cards extant.

The History of Playing Cards

The History of Playing Cards

Playing Cards have been around in Europe since the 1370s. Some early packs were hand painted works of art which were expensive and affordable only by the wealthy. But as demand increased cheaper methods of production were discovered so that playing cards became available for everyone...

A. Camoin & Cie, Casablanca & Marseille

A. Camoin & Cie, Casablanca & Marseille

Spanish national pattern by A. Camoin & Cie, Casablanca & Marseille

Casablanca playing cards from Morocco

Casablanca playing cards from Morocco

Moroccan cards with the legend 'Casablanca'.

1986 Moroccan Bank of Commerce and Industry

Moroccan Bank of Commerce and Industry

Advertising pack for the Moroccan Bank of Commerce and Industry, 1986

Cartes La Gazelle, Casablanca

Cartes La Gazelle, Casablanca

Cartes La Gazelle, manufactured by Imprimerie de L’Entente, Casablanca

Playing cards in Morocco

Playing cards in Morocco

The earliest literary references to playing cards in Europe refer to the game having been introduced by a 'Saracen', and also to Moorish and Damascene varieties of playing card.

1910 Algeria

Algeria

Spanish suited playing cards produced by B. P. Grimaud (Paris) for Algeria, around 1910.