During the later nineteenth century bullfighting gained immense popularity as a public spectacle in Spain, turning its leading participants into celebrities. One notable pack from that era and possibly the earliest, called 'Nueva Baraja Taurina', was crafted around 1875-85 by Pedro Maldonado, featuring lithographs by Julio García and printed by Imp. y Lit. de González in Madrid.
This pack consists of 40 fancifully-treated cards, with the court cards and certain suit symbols showing portraits of renowned bullfighters, and the remaining cards also bearing the names of bullfighters. To further emphasize the theme, the suit symbols are customized with bull-fighting regalia or bull-breeding brands. Several cards include a vignette illustrating a bull-fighting incident. Pedro Maldonado's name appears on the five of swords, while Julio García's and the printer’s names are inscribed on the ace of coins.
The suits in the pack represent different aspects of bullfighting: livestock branding irons for coins, 'picadors' for cups, 'banderilleros' for batons, and bullfighters for swords. The aces of each suit feature prominent bullfighters of the time, including Lagartijo, Frascuelo, El Gordito, and Currito, while the kings show historical bullfighters such as Pedro Romero y Costillares. Additionally, other cards in the pack showcase famous bullfighters from that era, like El Gallo and Mazzantini. See the wrapper►
Denning, Trevor: The Playing-Cards of Spain, Cygnus Arts, London, 1996
O’Donoghue, Freeman M: Catalogue of the collection of playing cards bequeathed by Lady Charlotte Schreiber, Trustees of the British Museum, London, 1901 (Spanish 6)
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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