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Gothic Spanish-suited cards

Gothic Spanish-suited cards, 15th century

Gothic Spanish-suited cards discovered in the cover of a book published in 1519; uncut sheet showing 15 cards. It cannot of course be later than the book, but some time may have elapsed between the rejection of the sheet by the playing-card printer, its being made into board and the board finally being drawn from stock for use by the bookbinder. The style and costume of the figures places it between 1460 and 1470. All the ‘sotas’ are female, standing three-quarter profile, upholding their suit symbols. The clubs are hefty tree branches - not slender rods as in Italian cards. detail from Gothic Spanish-suited cardsThe numeral cards have been decorated by the addition of extra motifs which are not essential to the design, i.e. cavorting putti, and in this and other respects they are related in design to the pack by the Oberdeutscher Stecher, engraved in the 1490s, and also the uncut sheet by the Master of the Banderoles, engraved in the third quarter of the fifteenth century, and which also feature naked children deporting themselves. The coins all feature the shield of Aragon. These cards may be a typical example of early ‘standard’ Spanish-suited playing cards, maybe from before Columbus sailed for the ‘New World’ which were imitated by French card-makers and German engravers who wished to export their wares back to Spain.

Gothic Spanish-suited cards

Above: uncut sheet showing fifteen playing cards, 15th century. Discovered in the book cover of a Catalan manuscript volume of 1519. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (Barcelona).

Last Updated February 20, 2018 at 10:49am


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