Lot books were clearly made for divination interests
.... early Trionfi cards not
Lot books are difficult to study ... they didn't found too much attention as literary works. So one is rather lucky, if one finds a library description about a work. If one is very lucky, one finds an online edition.
Lot books are often "very confusing", and it often is impossible to understand their system ... which not in each case is a deep loss, as some of these systems are obviously accidental corrupt or have just "stupid ideas" and often are just made with misunderstandings by the producers.
Lot books mostly are productions "in one version", so one cannot hope to suggest, that this were far spread versions and of some importance for the researched period.
In this case we were very lucky to find 4 "related versions" of one lot book, 3 of them more or less similar to each other, one to 3/4 similar. More lucky we are, that one version is really online, a second a little bit online and two other versions have library descriptions.
Very lucky we are, that just this lot book has a 22-22-22-22-scheme with 22 questions, 22 Kings, 22 Prophets and 22 symbolic animals (from these 12 well known zodiac signs).
The well known (I hope so) problem exists, that one cannot prove, that the early Tarot cards had really 22 trumps. Indeed there is reason to assume, that the earliest versions had only 14 or 16 trumps ... I've talked about this very often.
So it is especially of worth to know about a lot book, which definitely used the number 22 as a system-number, and which can be dated around the time, when the first Trionfi cards were produced. And if it can be stated, that it was relatively far spread, one actually could work with the idea, that it possibly influenced the process, which did lead to the condition, that Tarot cards got finally 22 trumps.
Unluckily for the most readers here, the evidence for all these versions exits only in German language. Well, it's a German Losbuch. But you might have fun with the pictures.
1. Fränkisches Losbuch (dated 2nd quarter of 15th century, so between 1426-1450; a second researcher estimated third quarter); the manuscript is fragmented and in a rather bad state.
Pictures are at:
Note: Not all pictures belong to the lot book. The lot book starts in the 5th row with the right picture and contains totally 13 pictures (last picture is the pope, the first is the lion)
The lot book is collected inside a MS with other texts.
Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Inventar-Nr. Ms. germ. fol. 642
Example picture: the Pope, which is the highest element of 22 (or last in a row from 1-22).
The Pope has as animal a donkey and as prophet Jacob
2. Inside the Bollstatter collection of lot books in cgm 312 (the first of c. 12-15 lot books inside the codex). The collection was produced between 1450-1473 and this edition definitely in the year 1450.
The library description is here:
SCHNEIDER, Karin: Die deutschen Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München: Cgm 201-350. - Editio altera. - Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1970
3. A printed version from c. 1520, printed in c. 1520 in Landshut by Johann Weissburger. This version is luckily online and you can see the full text (perhaps the impressum and some start text is missing) and the full pictures.
An example picture: Pope with donkey and prophet Jacob
From that, what could be controlled by the momentary available information, all these 3 different versions use the same mathematical scheme, the same symbols (kings, prophets, questions, animals) and have the same or rather identical text ... the danger is given, that the row of symbols has slight variants (mistakes), but this is not sure.
4. The following 4th text variates the (international) Kings row and uses instead a local German hierarchy (also from 1-22) probably indicating, that this text was made around Mainz-Trier. The text is nowadays in Trier.
"Losbuch Moselfranken", begin 16th century
1st figure: wild man (similar to Fool)
2nd figure: noble man
3rd figure: knight
4-11: German lower nobility
12-18: 7 Kurfürsten (Electors), the highest (18) is the archbishop of Mainz
19: "Konnig" (= king)
21: Keyser (= emperor; same figure as in the other 3 texts)
22: Babest (= pope; same figure as in the other 3 texts)
A library description is here:
The "wild man" (first figure in this system) is a topic for some p15th century playing cards, for intance this one ...
Additionally to this 4 lot books a fifth text exists, much more famous than these others, not often mentioned works: the "Splendor Solis", made c. 1530 in Augsburg (that's more or less the same region, where the four other books had their production). Adam McLean describes the content, which shows - as the 4 lot books - 22 pictures in 22 chapters:
1. The Arms of the art
2. Philosopher with flask
3. The Knight on the double fountain
4. Solar King and Lunar Queen meet
The Seven Parables:
5. Miners excavating hill
6. Philosophers beside tree
7. Drowning King
8. Resurrection out of the swamp
9. Hermaphrodite with egg
10. Severing the head of the King
11. Boiling the body in the vessel
The Seven Flasks:
[color="red"]12. Saturn - Dragon and child
13. Jupiter - Three birds
14. Mars - Triple-headed bird
15. Sun - Triple-headed dragon
16. Venus - Peacock's Tail
17. Mercury - The White Queen
18. Moon - The Red King[/color="red"]
19. The dark sun
20. Children at play
21. Women washing clothes
22. Sun rising over the city
One detects, that the "Splendor Solis" uses a similar scheme as the "Losbuch Moselfranken", which used "7 Kurfürsten" for the positions 12-18. The "Splendor Solis" uses "7 Planets" at the same positions.
Picture example: Mercury
The content of the earlier lot book (before Splendor Solis and the lot book variant "Losbuch Moselfranken"):
22 elements, each with a number, each with a prophet, each with a king, each with an "animal" (which are occasionally zodiac signs) and each with a theme (which is given by the question). I give the original question, and I translate it, then I give the prophet, then the king and then the animal:
1. Ob ains an Wirdigkeit mag komen (question)
If one gets honors (translation of question)
Prophet David (Prophet)
King Franckreich (France) (King)
Animal: Wag - Zodiac: Libra (Animal ... in this case a zodiac sign)
2. Ob ains gedancken vollend mugen werden
If one's ideas reach their goal
King Engelland (England)
Animal: Wider - Zodiac: Aries
3. Ob es gut sey wider feynd kriegen
If it is good to fight against an enemy
King Schottenland (Scotland)
Animal: Ochs - Zodiac: Taurus
4. Von frawen haymlichkeit
About "Hamlichkeit" of the woman
King Ungern (Hungary)
Animal: Krebs - Zodiac: Cancer
5. Von gottes huld und gnaden
About god's grace
King Marroch (Marocco)
Animal: Leb - Zodiac: Leo
6. Von manne haymlickeit
About "Haymlichkeit" of the man
King Cecilien (Sicilia ?)
Animal: Rab - Crow
7. Von gtrewn Lewten
About loyal persons
King Römischer König (Rome)
Animal Jungfraw - Zodiac: Virgo
8. Von vil frawen
About many women
King Morenland (land of the Moors)
Animal Fisch - Zodiac: Pisces
9. Von reichtum
King Armenien (Armenia)
Animal Wassertrager - Zodiac: Aquarius
10. Von langem leben
About long life
King Schweden (Sweden)
Animal Zwyling - Zodiac: Gemini
11. Von deinem frewnde
About a male friend
King Turcken (Turkey)
Animal Schutz - Zodiac: Sagitarius
12. Von deiner Frewndin
About a female friend
King Spangen (Spain)
Animal: Scorpion Zodiac: Scorpio
13. Ob es gut sej wallen
If it good to "wallen" (? to wander or to make a pilgrim's journey ?)
King Indian (India)
Animal Einhorn - Zodiac: unicorn/capricorn
14. Ob es gut sey zu Ee greffen
If it good to marry
King Capodocia (central Turkey, Anatolia)
Animal: Kranch (crane)
15. Ob eins sein schuld vergelten mag
If something is paid back
King Tartern (land of the Tartars ? Mongolia ?)
Animal: Arr (eagle)
16. Von weisheit und thorheit
About wisdom and stupidity
King Lilio (?)
Animal: Nachtigall (nightingale)
17. Von herren lone
About salary of a master
King Nobie (Nubia)
Animal: Kamelthyer (camel)
18. Von sorgen
King Cypern (Cyprus)
Animal Syttich (parrot)
19. Ob eins verloren ding wider finde
If a lost object is found again
King Arragon (Aragon)
Animal: Hyrs (stag)
20. Von hoffnung
King Babylonien (Babylon)
Animal: Hundt (dog)
21. Ob ein gefangener erlöst mug werden
If a prisoner will be released
King - Emperor
Animal: Has (hare)
22. Von der libe
King - Pope
Animal: Esel (donkey)
The system was meanwhile analyzed and partly deciphered. It seems probable, that at least in parts the elements are much older than "1450" ...
... it seems obvious, that (as far the group of the animals are observed) that it (at least partly) goes back to an old astrology, which was already used before Christ and which considered a 13th sign of the zodiac, which was used for an additional month (in a lunisolar system).
A report to a Babylonian lot book system made in 177/178 BCE was discovered (written at a cuneiform table), which uses 17 (of the 22) elements.
So we have here a Tarot-similar object, which - naturally - wasn't printed a as a card deck ... at least there is no evidence.
... .-) ... nonetheless it fulfills a lot of dreams about Tarot. Very old, an important system based on 22, with astrological content.