Spanish Playing Cards ~ La Baraja Española
Spanish suit symbols are cups, swords, coins and clubs (termed copas, espadas, oros and bastos) but the form and arrangement differs from Italian cards.
SPAIN has played a pivotal role in the history of playing cards in Europe and Latin America. One view is that the early history of playing cards in Europe was related to the invasion of North Africa, Spain and Sicily by Islamic forces during the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt which ended in 1517. This coincided with the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada (13th - 15th century), the last Islamic stronghold in the Iberian Peninsula, which was linked to North Africa via the Strait of Gibraltar. Spain has had a complex colonial history and Spanish playing cards have travelled to the ‘New World’ where the legacy of Spanish-suited playing cards still prevails today from Mexico to Patagonia, as well as other remote parts of the globe.
An abundance of early literary references are in the Spanish language. Playing cards have been popular in Spain since their very first introduction there. Early sources refer to playing cards and card games in dictionaries and merchants’ inventories, to various card-makers and to prohibitions of card games, mostly around Barcelona and Valencia, in the late 1300s and early 1400s. Historical archives from Barcelona, 1380, mention a certain Rodrigo Borges, from Perpignan, and describe him as “pintor y naipero” (painter and playing card maker). He is the earliest named card-maker. Other card makers named in guild records include Jaime Estalós (1420), Antonio Borges (1438), Bernardo Soler (1443) and Juan Brunet (1443). The types of cards mentioned include large cards, painted and gilded as well as Moorish cards and small cards.
The Spanish state playing card monopoly was first established during the reign of Felipe II, in the 16th century. It was divided into several regions, including Mexico and ‘New Spain’, Toledo, Castile and Seville. Leases for these respective monopolies were awarded on a competitive basis to the highest bidder and subject to strict controls. Lease holders also enjoyed the protection of laws governing the playing card monopolies, which included the outlawing of contraband playing cards read more →.
Spanish playing cards are today divided into several distinctive types or patterns, some more ancient than others, which are often associated with different regions, as well as a wide range of non-standard cards which testify to the creative genius of Spanish artists. The suits are usually numbered through 1 - 12. A peculiarity to be observed in Spanish cards is that the suits of cups, swords and clubs have respectively one, two and three gaps or intervals in the upper and lower marginal lines of every card, called pintas.
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.
Issued to mark the opening of line 3 of the metro in Valencia, 1998.
An extraordinary Spanish pack of chocolate advertising playing cards dating from 1920
Luxurious Spanish-suited pack made by Alphonse Arnoult, Paris, France, c.1850.
Standard English pattern pack made in Ecuador, c.1970.
Wüst Spanish pattern c.1910 advertising Cuban ‘Tropical’ beer.
Archaic Spanish-suited deck with 48 cards made in Toledo in 1584.
Bull fighting card game publshed by Naipes Comas, 1969.
Puss in Boots card game manufactured by H. Fournier, 1981.
Gambling and Vice in the Hours of Charles V: card-playing in the local tavern
Fifth Centenary of the Discovery of America by Heraclio Fournier, 1992.
Donald Duck card game © Walt Disney Productions, by Naipes Fournier, 1984.
Caperucita Roja card game published by H. Fournier, 1981.
Pulgarcito (Tom Thumb) card game published by H Fournier, 1981.
The Adventures of Inspector Gadget quartet game published by Fournier in 1983.
Periquito y Tontín Dominoes, featuring Feliz and Bonzo, 1920s.
“Familias de 7 Paises” card game published by Naipes H. Fournier S.A, Vitoria, 1979.
“Parejas del Mundo” matching pairs card game by Naipes H. Fournier, 1972.
The Adventures of Sport-Billy by H. Fournier, 1981.
Chinese Costumes from the Winterthur Collection, published by Fournier, 1984.
Educación Vial (Road Safety) card game published by H. Fournier, 1995.
Baraja Carlos IV, Félix Solesio en la Real Fábrica de Macharaviaya, 1800.
101 Dalmatas by Naipes Fournier, 1995,
Parisian style Spanish deck by Grimaud for export to Uruguay.
Vanity Fair No.41 Playing Cards by the United States Playing Card Co, 1895. All the number cards have been imaginatively transformed.
“Naipes Criollos” Gaucho playing cards, 1995.
Baraja Turística de España by Heraclio Fournier, 1966.
Hercules card game published by Herclio Fournier, 1997.
A Goofy Movie card game published by Heraclio Fournier, 1996.
Sarde pattern published by Modiano, c.1975, based on early XIX century Spanish model.
Archaic Navarra pattern produced for the Pamplona General Hospital Monopoly by Pedro Varangot in 1786.
Navarra pattern produced for the Pamplona General Hospital Monopoly in 1682.
“Money Bag” pattern by Hermanos Solesi, late 18th c.
Kem ‘Spanish’ playing cards appear to depict Spanish conquistadors © 1994.
Navarra pattern by an unknown cardmaker with initials I. I., 1793.
Anonymous archaic Spanish Suited pack, c.1760
Baraja ‘Goyesca’ facsimile of original deck published in Madrid by Clemente de Roxas, 1814.
Venezuela Souvenir deck by Heraclio Fournier, c.1980s.
Far East playing cards with designs by Isabel Ibáñez de Sendadiano, c.1980.
Deck designed by J. L. Picardo for Loewe, 1959.
“Romance Español” designed by Carlos Sáenz de Tejada and published by Heraclio Fournier in various editions since 1951.