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German Playing Cards - Jost Amman

German Playing Cards - Jost Amman

$ 35.00

Carte Tedesche XVI secolo
Ancient Swiss/German-style, 52-Card Playing Card Deck
Creator: Jost Amman
Il Meneghello: Publisher of this Historic Reproduction, 1985
A Limited 1st Edition of 2000
Dimensions: 4.25" x 2.75 W" - 10.8 by 7 cm - 65/116 mm.
Cardstock: Quality Grade, Matte Cardstock
Card Backs: Blank

Lovely B&W line drawings on cream colored, sturdy card stock in a classic il Meneghello slipcover with ribbon closure. A quality reproduction of this antique German playing card deck.

This deck is a faithful reproduction of the Swiss/German Playing Cards engraved in 1588 by Jost Amman.
Back story: In the late 1500's in the German city of Nuremberg, the publisher Leonhardt Heussler had his best artist design a series of 52 illustrations constituting a full deck of playing cards. Originally these were not printed on paper, but rather were bound together as a book. In addition to the illustrations, the pages shared inspirational sayings in German & Latin.

The deck consists of 52 cards, traditionally divided into four suits of thirteen cards each (ten of which are numbered and the remaining three being the court cards). The kings are the only characters on horseback. These cards by Jost Amman follow the standard form of the 16th & 17th centuries; what is most striking is the extraordinary beauty of the engravings. These were made during when many artists used the illustrating of playing cards as a vehicle for showcasing their talent with the hope that their offerings would create a pleasurable pastime while gaining more recognition of the artist's work. The magnificence of these woodcuts clearly transcends simple recreational purposes, since the eye is invited to linger on many imaginative details.

In the typical German fashion of that time, the 10th card of each suit does not depict the relative number of symbols , (as do the other nine cards) , but instead has a female character in an elegant dress with a banner in the corner that reads the card number. Two of the aces in this deck have an impressive coat of arms, one of which is vaguely heart-shaped (shown below ).

The four suits are: Books, Glasses, Pots, and Inkpads (with a handle, to spread ink on printing plates, as demonstrated on one of the cards). All number cards, with the exception of 10, have symbols in the upper section, while in the lower portion of the card are different illustrations of scenes, whose themes relate to each of the four suits. Such as, the plants or flowers that grow around the imagery, have a relationship with the meanings (roses for Books, lilies for glasses, vines & grapes for cups, and cattails for ink pads.

The Artist Jost Amman: Although his name took time to become known, he was an unlucky fellow in life and during the last years lived in poverty . He died penniless in Nuremberg in 1591, only three years after finishing this deck of cards. Jost Amman was one of the most prolific illustrators of the sixteenth century. Born in Zurich in 1539, he was the son of a professor at a famous university, but preferred to follow his own artistic inclination rather than follow in his father’s footsteps . His training took place partly in Switzerland mainly. In 1562 he settled in Nuremberg where he worked for the publisher, L.Heussler. His works include portraits, various book illustrations, ornamental designs, stained glass work, jewelry, and much more.

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