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Playing Cards and Popular Culture in Sixteenth-Century Nuremberg

Laura A. Smoller
The Sixteenth Century Journal
Vol. 17, No. 2 (Summer, 1986), pp. 183-214
DOI: 10.2307/2540255
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2540255
Page Count: 32
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Playing Cards and Popular Culture in Sixteenth-Century Nuremberg
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Abstract

Playing-cards produced in Nuremberg throughout the sixteenth century bear bawdy images from the realm of popular culture. These illustrations appears not only on the cheapest decks, but also on expensive editions, indicating that folk humor appealed to poor and wealthy alike. The Nuremberg fathers do not legislate against the bawdy pictures, even after the introduction of Lutheranism. Nor do city councillors or reformers attempt to outlaw gambling with cards. Thus, in Nuremberg, the Reformation is not linked to a suppression of popular culture or to its separation from the culture of the elite.

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