Informations extracted from Hyacinthe Chobaut, "Les maîtres-cartiers d'Avignon" (Provence Historique, t. VI (1955), pp. 5-84)
(Ross Gregory Caldwell)
- Earliest mention of cards is 15 January, 1431.
- Bernard de Guillermont, papermaker, agrees to sell all of his paper for the upcoming year at a fixed price to two Italians established at Avignon (Nicolas de Ambrosiis and Odet Bouscarle), all kinds of paper including paper for making playing cards - "pro qualibet rayma papiri ad faciendum cartas pro ludendo, viginti unius grossorum" - for any ream of paper for making playing cards, twenty-one gross.
- 14 October, 1437. A certain Jaco Sextorii, papermaker, sells his production of paper for one year to the Italian Odet Bouscarle - all types of paper including paper "pro rayma papiri dupli pro cartis, viginti grossorum" - for a ream of double paper for cards, twenty gross. (the name is shorter (cartis) and the price is going down!)
- Chobaut notes that paper-making in the Comtat-Venaissin (Avignon region) begins in the second half of the 14th century. He says that while some of this paper might have been made for export to towns like Lyon, it is highly probable that there were already card-makers in Avignon.
- 1441 - card playing prohibited in the Statutes of Avignon for religious and clerics. - "... statuimus et ordinamus, quod si quis clericus vel ecclesiastica persona ad ludos taxillorum, alearum vel cartarum publice vel occulte ... ludere praesumbit".
- 1441, 8 May. Etienne Mouret or Moret, named "factor cardarum (=cartarum)" - cardmaker. He is the earliest known cardmaker in Avignon. He is known to have lived in Avignon since 12 March, 1419 to around 1435, when he had moved 24km from the town (from 1419-1437, he is called "mercier" (haberdasher) in various documents; he is called "painter" in a document of 1437, and then in 1439 he moved to Avignon again, where he is called "mercier" in two documents of 1439 and 1440. In 1441 he is called "cardmaker" for the first time).
- 1442, 30 April. Mouret again named "factor cartarum".
- 1443, 15 June. Mouret again named "factor cartarum".
- 1443, 4 December. Mouret called "factor cartarum et pictor" (cardmaker and painter). This is the last time he is named in Avignon. Chobaut writes that "I believe that Mouret was a mercier, painter and cardmaker at the same time. These three professions were related in the 15th century (...). It must not be forgotten that at this time merciers sold playing cards, and that they were often painted by hand." (Marchione Burdochio (Bolognese) in Ferrara at the same time was a mercier (merzaro), and sold triumph cards to the Este family). Chobaut continues - "Even though we do not find him called specifically a cardmaker until 1441-1442, nothing prevents thinking he exercised this profession beforehand."
- 1444-1448. Mouret lives in Montpellier. In 1447 a certain Pierre Mouret, perhaps Etienne's son, is described as "fazedor de cartas, alias de ybys, que demora sota 'Sant Nicolau'" - cardmaker, also called 'ybys' (=naybes?), who lives under 'Saint Nicholas'". In 1448 Etienne Mouret is described as someone "que fa las cartas ho lo ybes per joguar" - who makes cards or 'ybes' for playing.
- 1441-1448. Gillet Curier is the second known cardmaker in Avignon. He is alternately called mercier and cardmaker in the documents; the earliest time he is called "factor cartarum" is 5 January, 1445. He also made images of Saint Peter of Luxemburg for the Celestine monastery of Avignon, perhaps for sale to pilgrims.
- 1448. Jean Benoît (from Bourges) is called "mercier".
- 1450. Jean Benoît is called "factor cartarum" (third known cardmaker in Avignon).
- 1451. Jean Benoît is called "factor cartularum".
- 1451. Jacques Monteil (from du Puy) "factor cartarum".
- 1456-1480. Raynaud Silvi (from Orpierre in diocese of Gap), named "factor cartarum" in various documents (fourth known cardmaker in Avignon).
- 1459-1472. Antoine Biolet, (originally from Lyon), named "carterius", "factor cartarum", or "factor quartarum" in various documents (fifth known cardmaker in Avignon).
- 1463. A certain "Labe" and Richard Rétif, named "factores cartarum" (sixth and seventh known cardmakers in Avignon).
- 1464-1487. Guillaume Veron (from Poitiers), named "factor cartarum" (eighth known cardmaker in Avignon).
- 1469. Guillaume Trentesous, named painter and "faciens cartas ad ludendum" (ninth known cardmaker in Avignon).
- Chobaut continues - "Around 1475-1480... the number of master cardmakers multiplies in Avignon. Some learned their craft here, while others came from all over: Jean Barat, from the diocese of Ivrea (1473-1481); Guillaume Bal or Bar, from the diocese of Tarantaise (1485-1502); Jean Janin, from the diocese of Besançon (1477-1485); Antoine Deleuze (de Illiceto), painter and cardmaker, from Fontarèche in the diocese of Uzès (1473-1520), and even a woman, Catherine Auribeau, 'carteria', widow of the master Raynaud Silvi (1480-1510), etc...
- "The most important producers of this epoch are : Pierre Perouset, painter decorator, cardmaker and merchant furrier, from Vienne (1481-1506), and Jean Fort or Le Fort (1488-1510), originally from the diocese of Paris, or perhaps earlier from Bernay in the diocese of Lisieux, who each had numerous apprentices. One finds beside them Jean Chaudet, from the diocese of Vienne (1483-1497); Jean Brunet, merchant mercier and cardmaker, from the diocese of Geneva (1481-1498), then his son Jean (1517-1521); Charles Charvin, from the same diocese (1497-1517); Antoine Filhat, originally from the diocese of Belley (1497-1520); Léonard Nicolay, from the diocese of Limoges (1500-1515), etc...
- "Many of these specialists probably came from the Lyonnais center, very important for the fabrication of cards in the 15th century. The documents will show us that the production of cards was very abundant in Avignon between 1480 and 1515, even if, - to my knowledge at least, - no playing card preserved today in either public or private collections today is witness of it."
- 1505. December. The first known reference anywhere to cards called "taraux" (a little earlier in the year, in Ferrara, "tarocchi" are mentioned for the first time). Cardmaker Jean Fort (mentioned above), in Avignon, agrees to send various items to Pinerolo (in Savoy/Piedmont, near Turin), including 48 packs of cards "commonly called taraux".
- Chobaut - "This period of prosperity (for the Avignonnais cardmakers) ceased between 1510 and 1520. Already in 1506, Pierre Perouset had gone bankrupt, his possessions were sold; beginning in 1510 Jean Fort abandonned the profession of cardmaker to devote himself entirely to haberdashery; some masters equally gave themselves over to other activities; many left Avignon, which they abandonned no doubt to find their fortune in other towns."
This abrupt decline was no doubt due to the massive production in Lyon.