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. 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 cards The 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 an example of early Spanish playing cards, maybe from before Columbus sailed for the New World.

Gothic Spanish-suited cards

Above: uncut sheet showing fifteen playing cards, 15th century. Discovered in the cover of a Catalan manuscript of 1519. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (Barcelona). Size of original: 263 x 296 mm.

Last Updated March 06, 2019 at 07:22pm


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