Archivo Nacional will mark the lottery’s 125th birthday

Some 125 years have past since the Junta de Caridad in San José staged a lottery to support Hospital San Juan de Dios. The concept was not universally popular and the city was full of such lotteries, legitimate or not.

Ticket issued in 1921 to mark the 100th anniversary of the country's independence. Photo: Jorge Castro Mora collection

Eventually the idea took hold and the Junta de Caridad became the present Junta de Protección Social. The destination for funds raised in the lottery were spelled out clearly by law.

The Archivo Nacional is marking the anniversary with an exposition, “El juego de la solidaridad. Historia de las loterías en Costa Rica,” which opens Wednesday in Zapote.

Like postage stamps, lottery tickets are colorful and laden with history. They also attract collectors. One is Jorge Castro Mora, whose collection is part of the exposition and who wrote the guide for the displays, said the Archivo Nacional.

The Junta notes that the early lotteries faced heavy competition and displeasure from the Roman Catholic church. Now, however, the drawings have multiplied to instant lotteries, electronic lotteries and the Gordo Navideño, the fat Christmas lottery.

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