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Published March 24, 2023 Updated April 14, 2023

Possible early astrological playing cards

Two early woodcuts that I believe to be playing cards.

Astrology Ephemera Medieval Myths & Legends Add to Collection

I am Zachary Fisher, a collector of woodcuts.

As an Atolycus, I am a "snapper up of unconsidered [Ebay] trifles," so when these two small unidentified woodcuts, both 59 x 38 mm, came up for $50 as a pair and I couldn't pass them up. They've intrigued me ever since. One is almost certainly Mercury and the other is most likely Zeus, but beyond that, I'm at a loss.

The problem is that I've not gotten closer to identifying them in the two years since I've had them. My initial hunch was that they were fifteenth or sixteen century Italian cards, but that is based on little more than a gut feeling and some resemblances in style to the period. They have no watermarks or anything I can use to identify them.

I was wondering if anyone in the playing card community could get me closer to getting a rough idea of when and where they were made.

Two early woodcuts that I believe to be playing cards

Above: both cards measure 59 x 38 mm. No watermarks or anything else to help identify. Plain backs.

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By Zachary Fisher

Member since March 23, 2023

I'm Zachary Fisher, a collector of woodcuts.


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