Linking your favorite traveling artists across the globe
I've recently been boning-up on the history of playing cards since we came out with three new reproduction 16th century decks. It seems the early playing card industry in Germany may have had a little boost in help from the church. When Pope Boniface IX (1389-1404) extended the grant of indulgences for pilgrimages to locations in addition to Rome, Cologne and Munich, the number of pilgrims increased since they had more options and shorter distances for a pilgrimage to gain remission for their sins. So the demand for printed religious tracts and indulgences also increased. The practice of stenciling the colors on to wood block printed images even gave rise to a German saying: Alle zwolf Apostle auf einen streich machen -To paint all the apostles in one stroke.
Thus, the same printing presses that were supplying sinners with playing cards were often also printing biblical scenes that were marketed to pilgrims, thus giving a boost to the German printing trade overall, and probably helping it become one of the major producers of playing cards in Europe during the 1400's. It also seems that Germany's the first paper mills were built in the 1390's. So availability of less expensive paper to replace parchment was growing just as cards were spreading across Europe and probably helped make playing cards more affordable to the general public.