Many theories abound, but written references to playing cards in Europe begin in the 1390s. Playing cards were probably introduced to Europe via Crusaders returning from the Middle East.
French and English suits were set by the early 15th century (heart, spades, diamond and clubs).
French Playing Cards
French manufacturers started naming court cards in the late 16th century (like those in our French Playing Card Collage Sheets), with names from Medieval epics, the classics and the Bible. By the 17th century a definitive set of names was established:
Italian Tarot (Tarocchi)
Tarot cards developed as a gambling deck in Northern Italy in the early 15th century (the fortune-telling attributes were added much later in the 18th-19th centuries). The number of cards has varied but have standardized into 22 trumps (or triumphs) plus 56 cards broken into 4 suits (coins, cups, swords, batons).
The symbolic images of the trump cards developed in part as a result of the rediscovery of classic Greek texts in the late Middle Ages/early Renaissance (reintroducing the Neoplatonist concept of the universe as organized in increasing levels of vicinity to God).
An interesting deck engraved circa 1460-70, which has 50 cards (five groups of 10). There is disagreement regarding the meaning and purpose of this deck, but one theory proposes the deck was made in Mantua during the council in 1459-60 as a pastime for Pope Pius II.
The groups are ordered “E” to “A”:
E — conditions of man (beggar to pope)
D — Apollo and the nine Muses
C — 10 sciences (seven liberat arts + Astrology, Philosophy and Theology)
B — seven virtues + light, time and earth
A — firmaments (seven planets + promo mobile, prima causa and the cosmos)
Our Muses collage sheets use cards from group D (muses and Apollo), group B (virtues) and group C (liberal arts).
Rubber Stamps based on these cards.