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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.

Naipes Comas

Naipes Comas 1797-1992.

Naipes Comas 1797-1992.

Naipes Comas was originally founded in 1797 by Pedro Comas Sumilla in Mataró, province of Barcelona. The company relocated to the city of Barcelona in 1810. From 1845 a succession of Pedro Comas’ descendents continued running the business. These were: Sebastián Comas y Ricart [1845-1867] -> Cristina Montaner de Comas (Viuda de S. Comas y Ricart) [1867-1882] -> Hijos de Sebastián Comas y Ricart (Antonio y Sebastián Comas y Montaner) [1882-1892] -> Sucesores de Sebastián Comas y Ricart (Antonio Comas y Montaner, S. en C.) [1892-1911] -> Viuda de Antonio Comas (Josefa Ribó Gruchaga) [1911-1931] -> Hija de Antonio Comas (J. Comas) [1931-1954].

Above: early edition of Naipes “El Ciervo” Nº.3 Catalan pattern by Sebastián Comas y Ricart, c.1848. Stencil-coloured woodcut. The address on the wrapper is Plaza de S. Agustin Viejo Nº.15, Barcelona. The ace of coins has a bust in the centre and the four of coins has the quiver of arrows.

In 1850 Sebastián Comas travelled to Argentina and established business relations with importers Fló Hnos in Rosario. A lot of playing cards were exported to South America and the Spanish Catalan pattern was accepted over there. At the same time he achieved improvements in the quality of Bristol card which resulted in increasing orders both in the national and South American markets. After his premature death in 1867 the company continued to prosper under the management of his widow, Cristina Montaner de Comas and then by her two sons, Hijos de Sebastián Comas y Ricart. These two brothers (Antonio & Sebastián Comas) continued to consolidate and expand the family business and introduced an improved three-ply Bristol card.

Above: in around 1880 new drawings were produced in pen and ink on oil paper for Naipes Comas by A. Plandolit.

In 1892 Antonio Comas y Montaner became the managing director. He introduced new brands (El Periquito, Escudo de Uruguay, El Carabao, El Conejo, La Golondrina, El Águila, El León, Los Dos Elefantes, El Gallo etc) for the South American and domestic markets. In 1895 the playing card business of José Samsó y Cía was acquired, and in 1896 Cristobal Massó i Artigas was also taken over. During this period Naipes Comas reached its peak of success.

Above: “El Ciervo” Catalan pattern by Sebastián Comas y Ricart, c.1890.

English and French style playing cards were introduced in the early 20th century, followed by ‘Spanish Poker’ packs with 52 cards, giving the company a more European outlook. The advent of the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War were difficult times for trading but the company survived.

Above: “El Ciervo” No.4 manufactured by Hija de Antonio Comas during the Spanish Civil War, with mural crown and flag of the 2nd Republic on the ace of coins, c.1938  more

Above: “El Ciervo” No.6 Spanish-suited Poker playing cards manufactured for Pirelli by N.E.G.S.A., c.1955.

In 1954 the business became known as N.E.G.S.A. (Naipes y Especialidades Gráficas S.A.) and continued manufacturing playing cards from the factory at nº6 Cortinas Street in Barcelona until 1959, when it moved premises to Calle Sort Nº32 & 34, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, within the Barcelona industrial belt. In 1962 Comas joined forces with a graphics company headed by Agustín Bastard Peris using the offset technique. On Sr Bastard’s death the company was acquired by Talleres Gráficos Soler based in Esplugues, in the outskirts of Barcelona, who are the present manufacturers of ‘Naipes Comas’. The range of products has been expanded even further and now includes children’s games and tarot cards.

Naipes Comas No.60 standard Castilian pattern, c.1965

Above: Naipes Comas No.60 standard Castilian pattern, c.1965. Images courtesy Matt Probert.


Tena Fuentes, Salvador: Testimoni Històric de Naipes Comas, N.E.G.S.A, 1994

Iris Mundus sales catalogues, available from

Above: “El Ciervo” Spanish Catalan playing cards.

Above: Fló Hermanos in Argentina were importers of Comas playing cards since the 19th century.

Above: Ace of Coins with exportation stamp, c.1905-1931.

Above: “El Periquito” Spanish Catalan playing cards.

Above: Naipes “Coraza” No.9.
See also: Naipes “Cristal” No.9.


Above: Souvenir of Lanzarote, c.1966.

Above: “Expo’92” playing cards manufactured by Naipes Comas, 1992.

Above: No.7 Spanish deck for Iberia airlines manufactured by Naipes Comas.

Above: “Frigo” ice cream playing cards manufactured by Naipes Comas.

Above: “Capel Vinos” playing cards manufactured by Naipes Comas, 2001.

Above: “Cartes Catalanes” manufactured by Naipes Comas, 2006.

Above: N°115 by NEGSA / T G Soler SA. See also N°17Museo Picasso, 2000


By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.