Posted by: internationalroutier | March 29, 2011

1616 Silver Playing Cards

Today we have a rather beautiful set of playing cards (made, ironically, not for playing with) I found as I was tootling around the internet. Made in Germany in 1616 by Michael Frommer (add your own umlaut; embarrassingly I don’t know how) the set is actually in the Italian style with the suits of coins, cups, sticks and swords. It was up for auction in October last year, sorry I didn’t get to it quick enough for you to stick your hand up for it.
I can’t fit the whole pic here (my goodness my computer skillz are showing today aren’t they?) but here is a preview. Make sure you visit The History Blog for the full pic and lots of other interesting bits.

from the Christie’s catalogue…

Documentary evidence shows that silver playing cards were an essential component of the princely kunstschrank, or art cabinet, of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. These cabinets, equipped with both artificialia and naturalia, represented the world in microcosm through an array of objects representing man’s artistic and scientific achievements combined with natural rarities from exotic locales. The ambitious purpose of these cabinets – to display the education, sophistication and immense wealth of their owners – perhaps overshadows another function, which was simply to delight, astonish, and entertain. Card games joined board games, trick cups, “fun-house” mirrors and other amusements in a designated area of the cabinet.

The J Paul Getty Trust has a virtual tour of the type of cabinet these cards would have been displayed in available here. The stunning cabinet was also made in Augsburg though just a little later, in 1630. You will need a decent internet connection but it really is amazing- make sure you spin it round to explore all the sides.

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