Playing cards have been travelling from Spain to South American colonies ever since Christopher Columbus. In 1531 Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish soldier, set sail from Panama with 180 men and 37 horses to conquer Peru for its gold. Huge amounts of silver were extracted from Peruvian mines during the 16th and 17th centuries and shipped back to Spain. At the same time gambling increased. Indeed, archaeological excavations in the Lower Rimac Valley near Lima have unearthed dice and fragments of 16th century Spanish playing cards made in Seville. Thus Peru was supplied with playing cards manufactured in Spain since the 16th century.
Sheets of playing cards were already being produced and sold in Peru by the mid-sixteenth century, but in 1553 their production was prohibited. The first printing press in Peru appeared in 1594, primarily for the purpose of printing Christian doctrine to support evangelism. Others soon followed and output was controlled by the Spanish crown to guard against subversive doctrines. Most of the images were religious and produced in Spain following fashions and tastes of the day. Ornaments include double-tailed mermaids, fish, semi-humans, demons, dragons, etc. At some point local woodcutters or engravers were employed; by 1618 an accusation was made that Francisco del Canto had made counterfeit playing-cards. Clandestine playing card industry was established at an early date.
The Spanish Cadiz pattern has been used in Peru since before 1900 and has become a sort of Peruvian National Pattern. The Castilian and Catalan patterns are seldom seen. For many years foreign-made cards were imported, including those made for the Estanco de Naipes del Perú, until Peruvian printers began to produce their own.
The Estanco de Naipes del Perú was first established in 1781 and administered by Spanish authorities as a sort of monopoly. Cards were produced in Spain at the Real Fábrica de Macharaviaya. Subsequently the Estanco was devolved to the Peruvian Congress who controlled the playing cards industry until the Estanco de Naipes was finally abolished in 1967.
A number of Peruvian tobacco companies produced collectible insert cards and playing cards to promote their cigarette brands during the late 19th century and early 1900s, many of which are finely lithographed by local printers. In addition there has been a small output of locally-produced packs. Local printers who also produced playing cards include: Color & Trazos ¦ Imprenta Lecaros ¦ Jan Mer S.A.C. ¦ Litográfica del Perú ¦ Litografía Fabbri ¦ Litografía Goicochea Hnos, S.A. ¦ Naipes y Casinos ¦ OBD, S.A. ¦ Offset Cecil S.A. ¦ Pavias ¦ Power Casinos ¦ Zandrox Producciones.
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Tarot & Cartomancy
Member since February 01, 1996View 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.
54 colour photographs of costumes and artefacts connected with the Inca civilisation, unknown publisher, Arequipa, Peru.
Luxurious Spanish-suited pack made by Alphonse Arnoult, Paris, France, c.1850.
Wüst Spanish pattern c.1910 advertising Cuban ‘Tropical’ beer.
‘Vargas Girls’ paintings by Alberto Vargas in a deck of cards published by Creative Playing Card Co Missouri.
“Cefacidal” / Mead Johnson medical humour advertising playing cards, c.1975.
“Money Bag” pattern by Hermanos Solesi, late 18th c.
Kem ‘Spanish’ playing cards appear to depict Spanish conquistadors © 1994.
Cádiz Pattern playing cards
Souvenir of Peru playing cards made by Standard Playing Card Co., Chicago, c.1910
Naipes ‘El Leon’ manufactured by Federico Hidalgo (Barcelona, 1897-1899).
Inspired by an archaic Spanish pattern formerly used in Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Naipes Artiguistas published in Concepción del Uruguay, Entre Rios province (Argentina) in 1816, by Fray Solano García.
“Naipes Tu Destino” Cartomancy Cards from Peru will ease any stress in your interpersonal relationships c.1975.
Spanish-suited playing cards made in Belgium by Léonard Biermans, c.1875.
Canary Islands Souvenir by Heraclio Fournier, c.1970.
Bull-fighters pack published by Hijos de Heraclio Fournier, Vitoria (Spain) with artwork by Andrés Martínez de León, 1951.
Standard Catalan-type deck, titled "El Mexicano", by an anonymous Argentinean manufacturer, c.1980s.
“Amos del Universo” card game published by Litografía Goicochea Hnos, S.A., Lima, Peru, c.1980.
'Foto Joker' Spanish playing cards for Matera Color Laboratory, 2008.
‘El Jokey’ Spanish-suited pack by Piatnik & Sons, Vienna, 1990s
Spanish National pattern re-printed from original woodblocks which are preserved in the monastery at Valdemosa, Mallorca, c.1960.
Spanish-suited advertising deck for Philishave electric razors.
“Líneas de Nazca” souvenir playing cards, Peru, c.2008.
‘La Auténtica Baraja Canaria’ was published in 1995 by Justo Pérez as an expression of the history and character of the Canary Islands.
'Recreo Infantil' children's educational cards published by Jaime Margarit, Palamós (Gerona) c.1888.
Spanish playing cards such as these were used in those parts of France where certain games were enjoyed, such as Aluette.
Leopardo 777 playing cards manufactured in Japan for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru, 1960s.
‘Bosco’ Playing Cards manufactured by A.S.S. for the Estanco de Naipes del Peru, 1930s.
The design of the figures is very agile with excellent colour harmony and execution.
A continuation of the survey of designs used in Central and South America.
Baraja Edad Media, fantasy Spanish-suited medieval playing cards published Mas-Reynals, Barcelona, 1993. Designed by M. Malé and illustrated by V. Maza.
‘La Española Classic’ is a traditional ‘La Española’ Spanish-suited pack and is produced in several sizes (standard, round, small and pocket).
Joan Barbot, San Sebastian c.1765-1810.
Taxation on Spanish Playing Cards.
Facsimile of 17th century Spanish-suited playing cards produced by Erregeak, Sormen S.A., Vitoria-Gasteiz (Alava), Spain, 1988.
Cartes Catalanes are used in a small area in the Eastern Pyrenées region of Southern France.
Copag Baralho Espanhol / Naipes Español.
Anonymous Moroccan Playing Cards for Royal Air Maroc airlines and others...
Chaudsoleil Red Wine advertising playing cards from Morocco.
Dengue prevention playing cards. Juego de 40 Naipes. Material para la prevención del Dengue, Ministerio de Salud de la Nación (Argentina).