VADUZ playing cards

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Unter of clubs, featuring a naked female

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King of swords for Lichtenstein style cards

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Unter of cups; a fool pissing in a pot

Two sheets in The Louvre known as Liechtenstein cards are the subject of some debate, but are tantalizingly complex and have a delightful expression of fifteenth century art.
Scholars don’t all agree on quite when they were made, although most opinions I have encountered believe the costume suggests around 1470. They were discovered in the 1860s, when they were likely attributed to Liechtenstein.
These cards, along with  a few other early fragments, exhibit a few very curious traits. They feature German courts (king, ober, unter), but the suits are latin. Like the earlier Morisca cards, there seems to be a transitional suit of clubs. A shillelagh, a pilgrim staff, or perhaps an adze?
There is also a fifth suit of Schilten, a suit found in Swiss packs. Could this be a parent pattern?
Although no queens were found, the pack does feature women. The Unter of coins wears her hair short, but has a long, flowing frock. The Unter of sticks, on the other hand, is naked and straddling her suit sign.
Although the print is smudged (they were rejects recycled into a fifteenth century manuscript cover) it is still quite expressive.  As I flesh them out I’m reaching for the same brushes and pens as I did for the Morisca cards, and they feel like there is a relation. They certainly feel like a natural evolutionary fit, and I’m thinking they may be finger-painted.
The pack is quite large at 57 x 89mm; combined with a fifth suit, and the possibility that it also included a fourth or even fifth court ( queens and knights) means this pack was a lot of paper.

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Lichtenstein style courts of cups and coins

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Lichtenstein style suit of schilten, customarily a suit found in Swiss packs

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Lichtenstein style courts of swords and batons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I printed up a few to see what they look like in the hand.
They’re chunky!
These are currently available in bridge size.

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VADUZ Lichtenstein style playing cards

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b105102791.r=jeu%20de%20cartes

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2 thoughts on “VADUZ playing cards

  1. They are called Liechtenstein cards because of the surname of their previous owner. They have nothing to do with the principality or the city of Vaduz. See Dummett’s Game of Tarot, page 15.

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