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Published October 26, 2016 Updated December 21, 2023

Naipes ‘El Leon’ 1897

Naipes ‘El Leon’ manufactured by Federico Hidalgo (Barcelona, 1897-1899).

1897 Spain Federico Hidalgo El León Cadiz-Pattern Spanish Suited Add to Collection
Fabrica de Naipes Finos ‘El Leon’, c.1898

Cadiz pattern pack published by, or for, Federico Hidalgo (Barcelona, 1897-1899), including exhibition medals, legends and the well-known 'El Leon' trade mark. The ace of coins shows a trade mark lion with two hemispheres and a sun which had been registered by Jaime García Fossas in 1894, so the pack was probably printed at his factory *. The cards are preserved inside a leather pouch with the legend ‘Atlanta’, suggesting the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition whose goals were to foster trade between southern states and South American nations as well as to show the products and facilities of the region to the rest of the nation and to Europe.

* Victor Ferro comments: "García Fossas was a business owner. His brother-in-law Alejo Gabarró ran the factory (Alejo Gabarró was married to Mª Teresa García Fossas, Jaime's sister). I don't think that the Fábrica León or the Fábrica Sol (see below), located on the same street and number, was really a factory, but rather a warehouse, despite the bombastic announcement".

The demand in Spanish-speaking and ex-colonial countries for such cards, for use in casinos and at home, was attractive not only to Spanish manufacturers, but also to Belgian, French and American makers who regularly produced cards for the Philippines, North Africa and Latin & South American nations where there was no playing card manufacturing industry.

Fabrica de Naipes Finos ‘El Leon’, c.1898 Fabrica de Naipes Finos El Leon, c.1898 Fabrica de Naipes Finos El Leon, c.1898

Above: cards from a traditional Spanish Cádiz-style playing cards published by/for Federico Hidalgo (Barcelona, 1897-1899). The designs are copied from Simeón Durá, 1888, who in turn had copied the designs from Segundo de Olea Lepiani. 48 cards, square corners, printed by letterpress and hand-coloured with stencils.

Fabrica de Naipes Finos ‘El Leon’, c.1898

Above: the wrapper from the above pack, referring to ‘El Leon’ playing card factory (Barcelona) which corresponds with the trade mark on the ace of coins and four of cups on the playing cards. Courtesy Alberto Pérez.


Above: advert for ‘El Sol’ playing card factory (not ‘El Leon’) with the same address as on the wrapper shown above, from 1898 yearbook, Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, p.44 of the advertising section. The ‘El Sol’ factory is registered (and not ‘El Leon’ ) in 1898, 1899 and 1900, as a manufacturer in Barcelona. This does not mean that its activity began earlier and ended later. Sometimes manufacturers would confuse the public, in this case with Samsó, who had been very famous in previous years. Image and notes courtesy Víctor Ferro Torrelles.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks to Alberto Pérez González and Víctor Ferro Torrelles for help with research and identification.

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By Alberto Pérez González

Member since December 21, 2016

I am a researcher and my primary interest lies in playing cards manufactured in Cádiz (not the 'Cádiz' type in general). I have authored several articles in the annual Asescoin magazine 'La Sota'. Among them are: “Madrid’s Playing Cards from the 17th to the 20th Century”; “New Contributions to the Study of Playing Cards in the Valencian Country”; “The Fouquets: 'Navarra pattern' in the Netherlands”; “Divided Playing Cards: Combining Ingenuity with Skill”; “Here Be Dragons: Speculations on the Evolution of the so-called 'Portuguese' Pattern”; “Playing Cards in Chile: News and Chronicles from the Viceroyalty Era”...

I have written and designed the book “Los Naipes de Cádiz” (296 pp). Additionally, I have contributed to the design, layout, and collaboration in Enrique García Martín’s book “Naipes, Arte y Fantasía” (444 pp).


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