Is there any merit in considering that this Cary-Yale sheet came from somewhere other than Italy or France?
The reason I ask is this....
They were probably Italian, as the subjects correspond closely to those of the surviving Italian woodcuts in Ravenna. In 1441, however, the woodcutters and playing-card makers asked the Venetian Council for protection from foreign imports, which were ruining their trade.
They were speaking about Holy pictures- not the Cary-Yale sheet. 1430-1450.
Now on the Cary Yale sheet the Devil looks Swiss and the Females look Flemish and the Magician looks Venetian.
These cards appear no longer to be available in general. I mean they are not the standard images.
They stopped this production it would appear. They are particularly good woodcuts for playing cards and I would imagine like German cards, they would have had appeal. They appear not to have been given this opportunity- so why?
Well, that's the question isn't it?
I suspect one of the reasons that Ross started this question is because we are always trying to figure out the Cary Sheet's place in tarot history. It has some very interesting iconography which may help us discover its origin.
You have to take it in context too. What IS the Cary Sheet? There can be little doubt of its direct relationship with the Tarot de Marseille, too many of the cards have direct correspondences. But if it is "based" on a Tarot de Marseille, then why doesn't it have titles or numbers? This is part of my pet theory that the Tarot de Marseille didn't have titles or numbers to begin with, otherwise, you'd have to say that whoever created the Cary Sheet removed them, which, in my opinion, seems unlikely; if they were for foreign import, it would have been easier to translate the titles. Does this mean that the sheet is older than the Tarot de Marseille? Perhaps. There are a LOT of people out there that treat the Tarot de Marseille like a religious text, and base their theories on it being the "ur-tarot", so there is a lot of resistance to the idea that it might actually not be the oldest, and may not even be of French origin! Add to this the cards Sforza Castle World card, and you have to consider that the titles were a later addition.
So if this is true, when were the titles added to the Tarot de Marseille? To me, it makes sense that it would happen when the Tarot de Marseille was imported into France. So, we have to ask, if the Tarot de Marseille isn't French, and the Cary Sheet isn't French, then where did they come from?
We've been trying to figure this out for years. I think one of the biggest clues is the Devil, which seems to me to be connected to the iconography of the Krampus famous from the Alps area. However, I was able to find a similar devil with the basket on his back from a 15th century French manuscript, so France can't be ruled out after all. I've not found a similar devil in Italian art, so maybe that lessens Italy's claim.
I think we need an authority on costumes of the period, they might be able to give us some help. We've discussed shoes, and the slited sleeves, and I don't think we are any further along. It would be great to find something that can help us date the time and location of origin, but as far as I know, it's still a huge, REAL tarot mystery!