hist-games: Baraja Espanola

ADRIAN SEVILLE adrian.seville at btopenworld.com
Sun Jan 15 04:08:56 PST 2006

1. This is a normal Spanish pack ('baraja'=deck of cards) of 48 cards - numerals 1 - 9 and picture cards rey (king) caballo (horseman) and sota (valet) in each suit: bastos (clubs), espadas (swords) oros (coins) and copas (cups). The additional non-suited cards are for use as jokers (comodines). [Spanish-design packs of 52 cards (with K Q J) called 'Poker espanol' are also in general use and there are also packs of 40 cards that omit the 8s and 9s].
  2. The best book (by a long way!) in English is Trevor Denning's  'The Playing Cards of Spain' (1996) ISBN 1 900541 10 6
  Some earlier writers are wrong about the history and origins of the Spanish pack, suggesting that is just a deficient version of the standard English pack.  As Denning says, it is an independent development established two hundred years before 'English' cards were imported from France.

Adrian Seville
  Huette von Ahrens wrote:
> It is an
> interesting
> deck that seems to be a mix of a standard playing deck
> and a
> tarot deck. The suits are gold coins, swords, cups
> and clubs
> [i.e. like a large wooden club, not the clover club]. 
> Each suit
> consists of number cards from 1 through 9 and three
> face cards
> of a knave, a cavalier, and a king. The total of
> cards is 48.
> There are also two cards which I would call "jokers",
> although
> they don't have a joker on them, just a logo.

I don't know this game offhand (I'll consult my books and see if 
anything turns up), but note that it's perfectly routine to have variant 
suits like this, especially in other countries. The coin/cup/sword/stick 
motif is quite common in the Latin countries, not just for Tarot decks...

-- Justin

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