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Published August 13, 2017 Updated September 25, 2023

Baraja “Neoclásica”, Madrid, 1810

Baraja “Neoclásica” engraved by José Martínez de Castro, first published by Clemente Roxas, Madrid, 1810.

1810 Spain Merrimack Clemente de Roxas José Martínez de Castro Art & Design Engraved Add to Collection

José Martínez de Castro (active 1795-1819) made his debut into the world of playing cards with this magnificent piece of work, which was deservedly a huge success and saw many editions. The early editions were self-published by Martínez de Castro himself (see press release), but later editions (after c.1815) were published by Josef Monjardín, Clemente de Roxas and Andrés Castellanos. The detail of design in the vignettes on the fours and the aces is very fine. This example is from the second (censored) edition of 1812, in which extra drapery has been added to the miniature nude figures. The model was copied by manufacturers in Spain, Italy and France, and is still used today in Sardinia. Read more

Baraja “Neoclásica” etched by José Martínez de Castro, Madrid, 1810 Baraja “Neoclásica” etched by José Martínez de Castro, Madrid, 1810 Baraja “Neoclásica” etched by José Martínez de Castro, Madrid, 1810

Above: cards from a deck etched by José Martínez de Castro first published by Clemente Roxas in Madrid in 1810. Size of cards: 83 x 52 mms. This example, from the Complejo Museográfico de Luján (Argentina), was acquired by Don Enrique Udaondo, the museum's first director, from the antiquarian dealer Romón J. Pardo in around 1930. It is not known who owned the cards prior to Pardo, or how they arrived in South America.

All members of the swords suit are in full armour and the sotas wear plumed helmets. The plates are usually printed in brown and carefully hand-painted with water-colours, and this example has been professionally painted in an accomplished and colourful manner.

Thanks to Juan Carlos Recarey and Alberto Pérez González for assistance with this page.

Note from Peter Burnett

A modern “version” (not a reprint) was produced by Merrimack Publishing Corp., New York, in 1980 under the title “1810 classical art playing cards”. The cards were printed in Hong Kong. Modern suits have been added: coins are spades; swords are hearts; clubs are clubs; and cups are diamonds. Two jokers have been added. The courts have been modernised though are still recognisable. The cards are larger than the originals - 100 by 65 mms. - P.B

“1810 classical art playing cards” produced by Merrimack Publishing Corp., New York, 1980 “1810 classical art playing cards” produced by Merrimack Publishing Corp., New York, 1980

Above: “1810 classical art playing cards” produced by Merrimack Publishing Corp., New York, 1980. Image courtesy Peter Burnett.

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1440 Articles

By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder 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.


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