The first woodcuts appeared in Europe at the end of the 14th century but were relatively rare until the early 15th century. By the 1430s thousands of woodcuts were available with simple, crude designs and were used as playing cards or as devotional images. Inexpensive, they were readily purchased at fairs, markets, and pilgrimage sites. Following the tradition of manuscript illumination, woodcuts were often hand-colored with watercolor, a quicker and cheaper process than printing with color.
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