Playing Cards: History of the Pack and Explanations of its Many Secrets

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The “Nine of Beasts of Prey” by the Master of the Playing Cards is another example of a number card, like the “Three of Birds”, and was printed from multiple copper plates. The “beasts” appear to be mostly lions and bears in varying positions. Much like the case with the birds, the Master E.S. seems to have used two of these images as inspiration for the beast featured in his own engraving. Two lions on “Nine,” the first in the lower left hand corner and the second just to its right, share staggering similarities with the beast in “King.” The Master E.S.’s lion is shown with his body in slightly propped up position off of the helmet, his tail chaotically waving in the wind behind his head, and with his mouth open and tongue exposed. …show more content…
As mentioned before, the Master E.S. created hundreds of images in his lifetime, many of which were outside the realm of playing cards. It is in these other print media that he went on to make the biggest impact on those printmakers who would succeed him. By looking at his prints apart from playing cards, like his engraving of “The Sudarium with St. Peter and St. Paul” (Fig. 6), it is evident that he took his techniques, those learned and adapted, and applied them to a more traditional style of print.
“The Sudarium” depicts two lavishly dressed men with halos, determined to be St. Peter and St. Paul, standing on either side of a piece of cloth. This large cloth, spanning from the saints’ mid-torsos to roughly their ankles in length, features an exceptionally large head –that of Christ. Above the cloth is an emblem created by a crown, two crossed keys, and an ornately decorated ribbon of sorts.
This emblem features one of the first similarities to that of the playing cards created by his own hand and those created by the Master of the Playing Cards. The crown at the top of the emblem is placed squarely above the head of Christ, recognizing him as the King of Kings. The same style crown –particularly looking at the spires –is seen on the King on his “King with a Helmet” card, as well as on the crown of the Queen on the “Queen of Flowers” card.
Other influences that carried over were that of modeling and cross-hatching, both of which are

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