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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.

Bosco by A.S.S. for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru

‘Bosco’ Playing Cards manufactured by A.S.S. for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru, 1930s.

Playing-cards manufactured by A.S.S. for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru, 1930s

Above: detail from the ace of spades, the box and the back of the cards. It is curious that the phrase "Made expressly for the" is printed in English and not Spanish or German, and that the phrase "by The ASS Playing Card Ltd" has omitted the word "Company".


Playing cards manufactured by A.S.S. for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru, 1930s Playing cards manufactured by A.S.S. for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru, 1930s

Above: Bosco playing cards manufactured in Germany by A.S.S. expressly for the Estanco de Naipes del Perú, 1930s. 32 cards in box. The legend "Estanco de Naipes del Perú" is printed on the box, ace of spades, and reverse.

Playing cards manufactured by A.S.S. for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru, 1930s
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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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Leopardo 777 made in Japan for Peru

Leopardo 777 made in Japan for Peru

Leopardo 777 playing cards manufactured in Japan for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru, 1960s.

Bosco by A.S.S. for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru

Bosco by A.S.S. for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru

‘Bosco’ Playing Cards manufactured by A.S.S. for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru, 1930s.

Cards for export to Peru by Heraclio Fournier

Cards for export to Peru by Heraclio Fournier

'El Caballo' brand (No.5P) playing-cards manufactured in Spain by Heraclio Fournier S.A. especially for the Estanco de Naipes del Perú, c.1960.

Estanco de Naipes del Perú

Estanco de Naipes del Perú

In October 1888 the Republic of Peru Congress passed Law no.26 establishing taxes on playing cards, whether imported or locally produced, according to the quality of the cards.

Biermans for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru

Biermans for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru

Standard Genoese pattern with French indices made by Biermans for Cigarrillo Holiday and the Estanco de Naipes del Perú.

Playing Cards manufactured by The US Playing Card Co for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru

Playing Cards manufactured by The US Playing Card Co for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru

Playing cards manufactured by The US Playing Card Co for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru, 1920s - 1950s.

Toyo playing cards No.88 for Peru

Toyo playing cards No.88 for Peru

Toyo playing cards No.88 manufactured in China for the “Estanco de Naipes del Perú”, 1950s.

El Reloj card game by Imprenta Lecaros

El Reloj card game by Imprenta Lecaros

“El Reloj” card game by Imprenta Lecaros, Lima, Peru, c.1920.

Spanish-suited deck for the Estanco de Naipes del Perú

Spanish-suited deck for the Estanco de Naipes del Perú

Spanish-suited playing cards printed for the Estanco de Naipes del Perú.

Piatnik & Sons for the“Estanco de Naipes del Perú”

Piatnik & Sons for the“Estanco de Naipes del Perú”

Playing Cards made by Piatnik & Sons for the“Estanco de Naipes del Perú”, c.1960.