Uncoloured and uncut sheet of XV Century Catalan Playing Cards, featuring four female Sotas, four Aces and four cards from the suit of batons.
Playing Cards by the Master of the Banderoles, one of the earliest professional printmakers, c.1470.
These cards may be a typical example of early 'standard' Spanish playing cards, maybe from before Columbus sailed for the 'New World' which were imitated by German engravers who wished to export their wares back to Spain.
Playing Cards have been around in Europe since the 1370s. Some early packs were hand painted works of art which were expensive and affordable only by the wealthy. But as demand increased cheaper methods of production were discovered so that playing cards became available for everyone...
During the second half of the fifteenth century, with printing technology commercially established and playing cards already a mass-produced commodity, a succession of masterly German engravers practised their art and decorative playing cards reached a zenith.
Conforming to an archaic format of 52 cards with banner 10s, female 'Sotas', horsemen and kings, the pack is of interest on account of a number of other packs with similar characteristics surviving elsewhere, suggesting an archaic variant of the Spanish-suited pack.