I can understand why there might be differences in opinion re. location - more difficult to get to grips with are the discrepancies between your post (#9 on this thread) and Girolamo Zorli's essay re. dates for the earliest woodcuts and the cost and usage of the cards.
hm ... I don't understand you. I wrote something about woodcut history in this thread, but not in post Nr. 9.
Girolamo in his text speaks of a conjecture ...
A second less documented conjecture moves from the assumption that the idea of ruff arrived immediately to intellectual and gambling Bologna – say 1410 or so. Local printers pioneered a local deck with a fifth order of trumps. Trump icons were taken from the iconographic and moral Bolognese trend of that time. Popularization pushed to standardization. Milanese students and conquerors took to Milan the idea of a deck structured for the ruff wit an added fifth order of trumps. Marziano da Tortona, the Milanese duke’s learned preceptor, made his court decks, often dedicated to celebrations and spiritual edification more than to the game. In other words, Marziano da Tortona might have worked on a popular accepted pack.
As already said: The assumptions about the distribution of woodcut technology in Europe vary between 1370 - 1430. That's a discussion with very different opinions ... So some researchers seem to have no problem to assume, that the playing card revolution in the 1370's was based on the use of woodcut. So - also - the unknown person, which made the conjecture, about which Girolamo speaks, has no problem to say "say 1410 or so", assuming further "local printers".
The first noted Nurremberg card producer in 1414 is a "Kartenmaler"... no indication, that he was a printer. Nurremberg had cards 1380, and the Hübsch article of 1850 (still not really accepted) has a Jonathan Kraysel from Nurremberg, who produces playing cards in Prague in 1354. Nurremberg was likely the biggest city for early playing card production (38 card producers mentioned during 15th century according Schreiber's list of 1938), with the "official earliest German paper mill in 1390" nearby. http://trionfi.com/0/p/20/
The second Nurremberg playing card producer "1422 Michel Wyener (- 1447)" is suspected to have printed (... well, when precisely ?). Definitely we have a woodcut from Buxheim, 1423, already found by Heinecken in 18th century.
Well, generally considered, if Nurremberg (likely one of the most modern cities in Germany with a definite relation to early paper industry and early playing card production) didn't know woodcuts till c. 1420, who then?
Spain had paper mills long before any other country, likely thanks to the advantage, that it naturally had Muslims, Jews and Christians living close together. Persia definitely produced block books in 13th century, but - it's said so - with a little different technology than it was used later in Germany and Netherlands. It took very long till the paper production technology spread, though it's also discussed, that paper mills (for instance in Germany) had been far earlier than the "officially version" of 1390.http://trionfi.com/0/p/21/
Perhaps the business strategy, to keep technology mysteries hidden, played a larger role in the question, why it took so long, that paper production spread across Europe. A second factor might have been the plague of 1348-1350, which might have finished some early technology developments at various places. But it's well imaginable, that Spain had a longer time a technology advance in woodcut (and used it, possibly only at a smaller scale) around 1400 (as claimed recently by Spanish playing card research), which reached Venice, who kept it as a mystery, as indicated in the document of 1441 ...
In 1415 then we have a big, great event, the council of Constance. Persons of many countries meet for a longer time - the number of attending persons is occasionally given with 100.000 persons (surely not all the time, but possibly occasionally). Technological differences in the different countries naturally showed up. For the development of European music it's said, that the council changed a lot and formed a new creative impulse.
If music found a new direction, then also other things. The explosion of woodcut technology after the council might be another example of the importance of the council. Generally one has to suspect, that the one big plague of 1348-1350 and its various reappearances had reduced traffic and trade considerably ...
Well, take 100% population and reduce it to 2/3 of it (by the plague). Then everybody has more possession and there's enough property at every location, which demands local activity ... and not activity at "foreign ground" (as natural for traffic and trade in high populated regions). If traffic and trade were dangerous after the plague, there's further reason, why traffic and trade simply didn't take place. Traffic and trade might have broken down from 100% to something like 10-20% ... that's just my private rough calculation "of the not observable follow-up", not officially, just by counting the 10 fingers of my hand, naturally. I've no official numbers ... it's just an observation, that in historic research the plague and its consequences is often "not a really calculated topic".
In the moment of the council 1415 suddenly "traffic and trade" reached dimensions, which wasn't experienced long before, perhaps never since the plague of 1348-50.
So we have to calculate explosive effects - after the council, not before. Well, and woodcut developed.
As Ross before noted, we have a sure woodcut / playing cards document in Palermo August 1422. It follows the Italian engagement of Alfonso of Aragon in Italy, who was made heir of Naples in 1420 and ...
Alfonso entered Naples in July 1421
Early Spanish playing card documents mostly appear in Aragon, not in Castile. Playing card printing in Palermo seems to refer to technology import from Spain.
Actually it would be nice, if these woodcut playing cards in Spain c. 1400 would be better documented.
Generally it's said, that Northern Italy after the break down of Milan after 1402 (death of Giangaleazzo) regained splendid economical conditions till 1425, as long Milan and Venice stayed in productive cooperation with each other. But then they decided to have war and the wars kept going on till 1454 (with some peace periods between the wars). This perhaps explains, why the woodcut revolution (inclusive copperplate engraving and letter type printing) didn't take place in Italy, but in Germany and the Netherlands (mainly part of Burgundy at this time).
Ferrara / Florence had Imperatori cards in 1423 (VIII cards), in Germany the game of Karnöffel (= Keyserspiel and Keyserspiel is German name of Imperatori) is first noted in 1426 in Nördlingen, later described with some detail c. 1450 by Mysner (somehow with 7-8 special cards, described as Pope, Devil, Emperor, Karnöffel and with an unclear number of "holy teachers" (likely 4) ... with some differences to later descriptions of the game. viewtopic.php?f=12&t=416&p=5182&hilit=mysner#p5182
A game with "somehow 8 trumps" at Ober and Unter position is noted by Master Ingold in 1432. http://trionfi.com/0/mi/00/
The Michelino deck (produced till 1425) uses in a similar way court cards (16 gods) as trumps beside the 4 kings (which are not trumps), following in its structure a deck, which was already described by Johannes of Rheinfelden 1377 with 60 cards totally. A still living German card game (Schafkopf, first known with this name in c. 1700) uses the Ober and Unter position still as "predefined trumps". It's versions are mainly played in Bavaria and the Riesengebirge (borders of the older Bohemia).
Bohemia was central for the German Empire below Charles IV. (1348-1378) ... in the time, when the playing card revolution of the 1370's was prepared. Hübsch (overlooked and not accepted) reported in 1850 about playing cards in Bohemia since 1340. http://trionfi.com/0/p/95
From the context it seems relatively plausible, that the 60 cards deck described by Johannes of Rheinfelden 1377 ...http://trionfi.com/0/p/10/
... with presented professions at each number card had been a court deck for exclusive players from Bohemia, especially as another game with professions ...
... was made at the Bohemian court in c. 1455 later.
Giangaleazzo Visconti (Milan) in 1395 bought the duke title from German/Roman King Wenzel in Prague (Bohemia) ... a complex diplomatic mission with big Milanese delegations in Prague and very bad consequences for Wenzel on highest political level, cause Wenzel lost his throne about it (abdicated 1400). From Filippo Maria Visconti (* 1392), later the commissioner of the Michelino deck, it is known, that he had a favor for playing cards in his childhood .. likely he got, 3 years old in 1395, a version of the Bohemian court deck with 60 cards.
The double appearance of Imperatori and Keyserspiel/Karnöffel in Italy and Germany is likely best explained, that Karnöffel as card playing idea appeared during the council 1415 and was played then.
The first 7 cards of the Tarot row have some strong similarity to the 7-8 Karnöffel-trumps, however, one has to understand, that the German Karnöffel devil is presented in the Italian card Love. This somehow astonishing phenomenon is best understood, if one reads the text of Master Ingold and how he presents his card playing devils.
Surely some German card makers might have brought some German playing ideas to Bologna ... Karnoffel or games similar to Karnöffel. But Ferrara bought their Imperatori cards in Florence, not in Bologna.
The creativity with Karnöffel versions might have stimulated Trionfi card versions ... just as an "expanded" Imperatori or Karnöffel game. But we have no document, which attests the presence of 22 special cards. Instead the numbers "14" or "16" show up in the early time, not "22".
The earliest known court deck (for the "expensive" market) uses "professions" and professions show up in chess iconography with the work of Jacob de Cessolis (c. 1300). The 8 pawns were then interpreted as "individual professions", likely inpired by Persian/Mongolic chess versions, which used specified pawns.
The Bohemian court game observed by Johannes of Rheinfelden in 1377 is just an adaptation of this idea. The Michelino deck is just an adaption of the Bohemian court deck. The later Trionfi versions were an adaptation of the Michelino deck (and also of Karnöffel/Imperatori versions, which were expanded). The later Tarot and Minchiate versions were adaptations, collecting their content from earlier Trionfi card experiments and possibly some lot book input.
Greek/Roman Gods ...
... well, this are not a German idea. Evrart da Conty wrote... likely a long time, somehow finished 1398 ... a monster work with much text, nearly an encyclopedia, in which he interpreted an anonymous chess poem. As material he used 16 Roman/Greek gods and 32 allegorical figures, from which 16 presented the male soul and the 16 other the female soul. Finally the hero plays with his 16 pieces against a female player with her 16 figures, and rather easily loses the game. Well, this model alone uses 48 figures, the 32 mostly taken from the then rather popular Roman de la rose. In 1402 a scandal happened, when Christine de Pizan protested enduring against the male dominance in the Roman de la rose .. partly these protests were also directed against the "Echecs amoureux".
Christine de Pizan was sponsored by Valentina Visconti, sister of Filippo Maria Visconti, commissioner of the Michelino deck. Surely Filippo Maria knew about this work later, though in 1402 he was only 10 years old.
So the Michelino deck is a mix of German / French / Bohemian influences ... and a few other influences, which Filippo Maria collected here and there. He focused Daphne ... likely he took this from Petrarca. He used the scheme of the 12 Olympian gods ... likely he was aware of the Manilius manuscript, which was found by Poggio during the council of Constance. And he used birds as suits ... likely with intentions of his personal family heraldic.
Well, a nice game. ...
... But surely one can state, that none of the later Trionfi or Tarot cards versions or even Minchiate versions reached the complexity of Evrart da Conty's attempt about chess ...