Play Your Cards Right

The Cloisters in Fort Tryon park, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is displaying a lovely set of fifty-two Medieval playing cards that constitute the only known complete deck of illuminated ordinary playing cards (as opposed to tarot cards) from the fifteenth century. The face cards are especially fun.

The Met says that their “exaggerated and sometimes anachronistic costumes suggest a lampoon of extravagant Burgundian court fashions.” Perhaps, but I think they look charming. The real question is: how did they survive this long?

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