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Upper Knave of Acorns


Not on view

Woodblock Cards

Cards produced from woodblocks were by far the most common. Simple in both design and production, the decks were printed from large woodblocks, typically two blocks with twenty-four cards each, then cut from the printed sheet into individual cards. There were, of course, many variations. Most were not colored, but those that were usually were limited to two colors, applied with the aid of stencils. Discarded when worn, few of these ordinary cards have survived. Because woodblocks were used continuously until they were worn or damaged beyond repair, and because they were widely reproduced and replicated, surviving cards may well reflect earlier designs. This seems to be the case with the four two-colored cards; they are generally dated about 1480–1520, but the costumes of the knaves suggest the designs may date as early as the middle of the fifteenth century.

Four Woodcut Cards
Suits: Acorns, Flowers, Bells, Shields, and possibly others unknown
Structure of deck unknown
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Rosenwald Collection (1943.3.711, 1943.3.1759–.1782)

Upper Knave of Acorns, Woodcut on paper with coloring, German

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