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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.

Cía Gral de Fósforos

Compañía General de Fósforos Montevideana, founded in 1893.

Compañía General de Fósforos Montevideana S.A.

Founded 1893

Compañia General de Fósforos Montevideana S.A. was a leading producer of matches in Uruguay. Commencing around 1900 their printing division began producing several brands of Anglo-American and Spanish-style playing cards such as Naipes Angelito and Naipes ‘Victoria’. Naipes ‘Ancla’ and a gaucho themed pack followed. They also produced brands for local casinos. These would have competed with brands being imported from Europe or USA at that time. The design of their standard Spanish-suited cards is the same Catalan style used by their sister company in Argentina, Cía General de Fósforos, S.A

Compañía General de Fósforos Montevideana

Two different logos appear on their playing cards over the years.

Compañía General de Fósforos Montevideana

The company's playing card production was taken over in the 1980s by Ingrapa S.A.

VICTORIA playing cards, c.1955

Above: ‘Victoria' playing cards manufactured in Uruguay by Compañía General de Fósforos Montevideana, c.1955. The company monogram is visible on the lower half of the ace of hearts, whilst the 0.25 cents tax stamp can be seen in the upper half of the same card.  See more →

A gaucho themed pack was also produced with this brand name.

Gaucho Compañía General de Fósforos Montevideana

Above: Naipes Victoria Gaucho-themed pack manufactured by Compañia General de Fósforos Montevideana, S.A., c.1975.  more →

Standard Catalan pattern

Supermercados CHIP 15 años, c.1979

Above: 3 cards and the reverse from a 40-card Spanish-suited pack manufactured by Compañía General de Fósforos Montevideana for Supermercados CHIP, c.1979.  See more →

Naipes ‘Ancla’ c.1980

Above: Naipes Opacos ‘Ancla’, slightly muted colour palette, 48 cards + 2 jokers in box, manufactured by Cía General de Fósforos Montevideana S.A., c.1980.  See more →

Copa de Oro 1980

Above: 4 cards and reverse from 48-card pack + 2 jokers commemorating the 1980 Copa de Oro Football Championship, manufactured by Compañía General de Fósforos Montevideana.  See more →


Silvera Antúnez, Marcos: Historia de los Naipes en el Uruguay 1724-2015, Ediciónes el Galeón, Montevideo, 2015


By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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