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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.

Baraja Edad Media

Baraja Edad Media, fantasy Spanish-suited medieval playing cards published Mas-Reynals, Barcelona, 1993. Designed by M. Malé and illustrated by V. Maza.

Baraja Edad Media, 1993

Mas-Reynals / Varitemas S.L., Vilassar de Mar, Barcelona, Spain

This fantasy Spanish-suited medieval pack of playing cards was published by Mas-Reynals in 1993, designed by M. Malé and illustrated by V. Maza. This follows a tradition amongst many manufacturers of producing a fantasy medieval design. The firm was founded in 1989 by Miguel Mas Reynals and today trades as Varitemas, S.L. producing a range of paper products including folders, albums, playing cards, etc. Earlier decks have the name ‘Mas-Reynals’, but today Varitemas S.L. produce a range of decks including Poker, Spanish-suited, souvenir packs, miniature cards and children's card games.

Baraja Edad Media, Mas Reynals, Barcelona, 1993

Above: Baraja Edad Media, fantasy Spanish-suited medieval playing cards published Mas-Reynals, 48 cards + Joker, Barcelona, 1993. The backs are plain red. Captions on the Ace of Coins state that the cards were designed by M. Malé and illustrated by V. Maza.

detail from Personajes medievales jugando a naipes by Luis Taberner Montalvo, c.1880. Museo del Prado, Madrid

Above: detail from Personajes medievales jugando a naipes by Luis Taberner Montalvo, c.1880. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

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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.

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