Got the book yesterday (only 6 days from Oxford to California) and dropped everything to read it and the reviews by Enriquez and Hurst. What a treasure! I'm so grateful for the hard work and dedication of the three authors. I'm also a bit in love with "Anonymous" whose identity, alas, will probably always remain just beyond my reach. Here are some random thoughts:
The Tower as the first card in the celestial/heavenly series:
This reminds me of Paul Huson's association of this card with the Harrowing of Hell. He says the Tower depicts release from the evils and limitations of the previous mundane series of cards ruled over by the Devil. I see the Tower as a transition card, a hole in the veil between the mundane and heavenly worlds, giving a glimpse of the Star of hope beyond.
In Robert Place's Ferrarese deck, parallels between the Tower and Devil are highlighted. Both are red figures flanked by two trees. This pair of trees also appears in the Star, Moon and Judgment cards. But it may be a stretch to read anything meaningful into it.
The Bagatto as Innkeeper:
I've been puzzled by the Soprafino deck's image of the Bagatto as a cobbler hoisting a wine glass with a pitcher of wine on his work table. I recall reading somewhere that Bagatto means "cobbler" in the Milanese dialect, but why the wine glass and pitcher? My personal, somewhat whimsical interpretation was that this depicts the lowest of the working class - an artisan who drinks on the job, doing shoddy work and missing his deadlines. It's interesting that Alciato, who makes the Bagatto-Innkeeper association, is from Milan. Perhaps Della Rocca, the designer of the Soprafino deck, was conflating two Milanese traditions, the cobbler at this work table and the innkeeper offering his guests a drink.
Both authors discuss the number four as the perfect number and describe various four-fold divisions of the world. Yet neither of them mentions the significance of four court cards in each suit. I wonder if they would see this as a complete set of nobles or aristocrats, or if they would read some other meaning into it if we asked them?
I spread out the cards from Robert Place's Ferrarese deck to get a feel for the sequence. The first thing that struck me is the Fool differing from most other decks because he's not glancing backward while being distracted by a dog biting his butt. In the Ferrarese deck he's striding forward rather purposely carrying two clubs with bells attached which seem to be parodying symbols of worldly power. Rather than bringing up the rear, he seems to be leading the parade of worldly fools.
I experimented with putting the Fool further up in the sequence of trumps and settled on putting him between the Hermit and the Hanged Man. The Fool seems to be the anti-Hermit. Instead of the light of wisdom, he's holding up a symbol of the foolishness of pursuing worldly status and power. Once you allow Folly to triumph over everything, even the wisdom the Hermit offers, there's nowhere to go but down into the realm of death (Hanged Man, Death and Devil) until your release, by God's grace and a well-placed blast of fire, enabling your ascent to Heaven.
Something that stood out when I looked at Place's Ferrarese deck is the series of six cards with trees, from the Devil through Judgment. Most have a pair of trees flanking the main figure. The Fool and Hermit have single trees, and if you put the two together, they're flanked by a pair of trees. Like I said, it may not mean anything, but it's very striking when you lay the cards out in a row, especially with Place's bright colors.
Thank you Ross, Thierry and Marco for deepening our understanding of these allegories.