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15th Century Oval Playing Cards

£18.00

The Cloisters set of fifty-two cards constitutes the only known complete deck of illuminated ordinary playing cards (as opposed to tarot cards) from the fifteenth century. The are four suits, each consisting of a king, a queen, a knave, and ten pip cards. The suit symbols, based on equipment associated with the hunt, are hunting horns, dog collars, hound tethers, and game nooses. The value of the pip cards is indicated by appropriate repetitions of the suit symbol. The figures, which appear to be based on Franco-Flemish models, were drawn with a bold, free, and engaging, if somewhat unrefined, hand. Their exaggerated and sometimes anachronistic costumes suggest a lampoon of extravagant Burgundian court fashions.

Size: 13.7cm x 7cm

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