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This unique set of 13 etched cards is a proof state for reissued late 15th century card deck, printed around 1820 by a British collector, artist and keeper of the print collection in the British Museum William Young Ottley.

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13 etchings, mounted on 3 sheets of 19th century paper (Very good, light stains of glue in the corners, small traces of old in the corners on the back, some tiny solds in corners, card no I with tiny tears and a tiny loss of image), cards, each: 12,3 x 6,2 cm (4.8 x 2.4 inches), paper: 30,5 x 22 cm (12 x 8.7 inches). 


A set of 13 eched cards is printed on different types of hand and machine made paper and presents three suits: Clubs, Cups and Swords, all additionally decorated with zoomorphic decoration and botanical forms. The cards are mounted to 3 sheets of 19th century paper with upper margins.

This set was made as a proof to test different types of paper for the illustrations in the publication A Collection of One Hundred and Twenty-Nine Facsimiles of Scarce and Curious Prints by the Early Masters of the Italian, German and Flemish Schools by William Young Ottley (1771-1836). 

William Young Ottley (1771 – 1836) was an English collector, amateur artist, and Keeper of the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum. He was a specialist for 14th- and 15th-century old masters, mostly Italian. In the early 19th century he published numerous books of art, which also included high quality illustrations, printed from copper plates, prepared by Ottley personally.

This is a series of 13 etchings, Ottley copied after a set of playing cards, made by a “South German Engraver” (Oberdeutscher Stecher) around 1496 and kept in the British Museum. This set of 52 cards was made in a South German area probably to commemorate the marriage of Felipe I of Spain and Doña Juana, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1496, by an anonymous German engraver, also caller “Schongauer’s follower”. 

These proof states are not identical to the ones in the book A Collection of One Hundred and Twenty-Nine Facsimiles: The plates are the same, but have been corrected with some additional lines after the first test prints. In the book the etchings are printed directly on a thick paper, covered with a thin layer of thin luminous paper, probably the same one as here used for the card no. I.

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