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Baraja Mitológica

“Baraja Mitológica” was first published in Madrid in c.1815 by Josef Monjardín from engravings by José Martínez de Castro.

Monogram of José Martínez de Castro

The “Baraja Mitológica” was first published in Madrid in c.1815 by Josef Monjardín from engravings by José Martínez de Castro, whose monogram appears on the ace of swords. The original drawings were probably by José de Rojas. In those days engravers might arrange for a local printer to produce their work and then sell the finished products themselves; alternatively they might sell the engravings to an established publisher. Consequently many editions appeared either anonymously, self-published or by different publishers. The printer’s details may or may not have appeared on the wrapper of a particular edition.

As can be seen in the images below, José Martínez de Castro’s engavings exhibit superb draughtmanship, clean and precise lines without any unnecessary ornamentation or fussiness. José de Rojas would have availed himself of the countless dictionaries of mythology and emblematic material available in 19th century Spain.

Above: cards from a hand-coloured edition of “Baraja Mitológica” by an unknown publisher from copper plate engravings by José Martínez de Castro, Madrid, 1817. The court cards depict classical heroes and deities. Images courtesy Alberto Pérez González.

A facsimile edition of the cards was published by Heraclio Fournier in 1989, based on an original copy published in Madrid in 1815 by Josef Monjardín, now in the Fournier Playing Card Museum, Álava. Each suit is coloured in monochrome, and there are differences of detail in some numeral cards from the edition shown above, suggesting that the plates had been re-touched or repaired. See the information cards   See the Box

facsimile edition of “Baraja Mitológica” published by Heraclio Fournier in 1989

Above: cards from facsimile edition published by Heraclio Fournier in 1989, based on an original copy published in 1815 by Josef Monjardín.

Right: the four of cups with the signatures of the tax accountant and administrator. (click to zoom)

REFERENCES and CREDITS

Denning, Trevor: Catalogue of Trevor Denning’s Collection of Spanish Playing Cards, Birmingham, privately published.

Pérez González, Alberto & Ferro Torrelles, Víctor: El Archivo Desconocido de la Baraja Española, in LA SOTA no.21, Asescoin, Madrid, October 1999

Thanks to Alberto Pérez and Samten de Wet for additional research and to Rex Pitts for scans of the facsimile edition by Heraclio Fournier.

four of cups with tax accountant and administrator’s signatures
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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. 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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