Huck  Huck is offline
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A further new article by Franco Pratesi with rather important new results about very early documents of playing cards documents ...

The documents are here: ... Library impressions

... and they include a dense analysis of playing card notes between September 1447 - 1449 in Florence, all from the merchant family "Puri", which then traded with playing cards (more or less low priced).
One major name of the connected card producer is the Florentin artist Giovanni da San Giovanni nicknamed "Lo Scheggia", a brother of the better known artist Masaccio.

One of Masaccio's famous paintings is this ... Adam and Eve are driven from paradise

Left the forged version, at the right the reconstructed version.

The picture ...
is located as a fresco in the Brancacci chapel ...
... and the Brancacci chapel is part of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence ...
... so there's some guarantee, that many persons of Florence have seen it often

The Minchiate cards of 18th and 19th century showed then these motifs:

Naturally we can't be sure, that "Lo Scheggia" as brother of Masaccio was active in the motif transfer from church fresco to Minchiate, but it's at least a possibility. "La Scheggia" is a new name in the league of early Italian playing card producers and it's the time near to "Michelino da Besozzo" and "Sagramoro".

One of the better known works of Lo Scheggia is this ...

... Trionfi della Fama, made for the birth of Lorenzo di Medici 1449
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Huck  Huck is offline
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This is a sort of "new research", as far I see it, running since 6th December 2011. So it's not really "very old".


This is about various Chaos-topics, which in the recent past dominated the discussions and which somehow relate to the Tarot topic. Mainly there are three developments, but I just take them as TRIPERUNO, which just means "Three-for-one" and for this I have my personal smiling reasons.

************************************************** ******************

Chaos of Minchiate Francesi

A focus had been recently at the deck of Francois Poilly: "Minchiate Francesi". This deck is dated usually c. 1730, but I contradict and assume for some good reasons a dating of c. 1660. This is - in my opinion - a very interesting topic, specifically cause of the "Chaos at begin".

Involved in this theme are Stefano della Bella, who made a Greek mythology deck in usual 52-cards structure 1644 for the young French king Louis XIV. and engravings collector Marolles, who once wrote the first French Tarot rules (1637/1655) and a playing card ballett with participation of Tarot cards (1657).
Further the cartomancy developer Etteilla, who also had as first card the Chaos.

From the Poilly Minchiate exist 3 versions, though the pictures seem to have been always the same. One version had 42 special cards, another 41 and a third had 22, all added with usual 56 cards, which had as suits 4 continents.

Discussion at ...

Chaos in Poilly decks:


Indirectly related to the Poilly discussion is the Petit Oracle des Dames (c. 1800), which is a mix of Etteilla Tarot cards motifs and influences from common Cartomancy decks (under suspicion is a 66 cards deck of c. 1790, which we only know by short description).

Etteilla's Chaos looked this way:

... and it also (as in the Poilly version II and in Ovid presentation by Marolles) was connected to card 1 or "begin". Etteilla connected it to the "Questionnaire".

In a similar form it reappeared in the Petit Oracle des Dames, then parted in Consultant and Consultante as card Nr. 22:

Well, it lost the Nr. 1, but the Etteilla Tarot had turned to a good part the numbers of the Tarot, so that begin (more or less) had become the end, and the end had become the begin. So actually this No. 22 actually means No. 1 before.

"Chaos" appeared first time in a few lines of Hesiod's god genealogies:
(ll. 116-138) Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundations of all (4) the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth, and Eros (Love), fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all gods and all men within them. From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether (5) and Day, whom she conceived and bare from union in love with Erebus. And Earth first bare starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods. And she brought forth long Hills, graceful haunts of the goddess-Nymphs who dwell amongst the glens of the hills. She bare also the fruitless deep with his raging swell, Pontus, without sweet union of love. But afterwards she lay with Heaven and bare deep-swirling Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire.
(later ... ll. 211-225) And Night bare hateful Doom and black Fate and Death, and she bare Sleep and the tribe of Dreams. And again the goddess murky Night, though she lay with none, bare Blame [= Momus] and painful Woe, and the Hesperides who guard the rich, golden apples and the trees bearing fruit beyond glorious Ocean. Also she bare the Destinies and ruthless avenging Fates, Clotho and Lachesis and Atropos (10), who give men at their birth both evil and good to have, and they pursue the transgressions of men and of gods: and these goddesses never cease from their dread anger until they punish the sinner with a sore penalty. Also deadly Night bare Nemesis (Indignation) to afflict mortal men, and after her, Deceit and Friendship and hateful Age and hard-hearted Strife.
This picture (I don't know, how old it is) shows Chaos, Nyx = Night and Erebos, brother and husband of Night.


I followed with the last assumption the given web page, but Ross corrected me in this statement:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell View Post
Point of correction:
There is no "Chaos" nor "Erebos" in this Christian icon. It shows "Esaias" (ΗϹΑΙΑϹ, the biblical prophet Isaiah) between Nyx, night (correct) and Orthros, dawn (liturgical).

"This magnificent miniature showing the prophet Isaiah at prayer, between Nyx, the night and Orthros, the young day, belongs to the world-famous book of psalms known as the Paris Psalter. It is a tenth century manuscript from Byzantium, from the metropolis Constantinople and was brought to Paris only in 1557/9 by the ambassador Jean Hurault de Boistaillé."
I agree with Ross in this point. A representation shows originally Nyx, but NOT Chaos and Erebos.
Finish of "LATER ADDED"

Here we have Temperance (Petit Oracle des Dames) mixed with Nuit (= Night = Nyx)

Here we have night and day in Etteilla versions:

Erebos is given at the picture with a torch.

Erebos is in myths NOT identical with Hymenaios, but Hymenaios also was signified with a torch

Festival book 1475 for the marriage between Camilla Aragon and Costanzo Sforza.

And Hymenaios, who was a rather important mythological figures for weddings, often accompanied triumphal processions at the opportunities of weddings. For such opportunities occasionally were "trionfi decks" were produced, the forerunners of the Tarot cards.

And a Hymenaios appears in the Petit Oracle des Dames:

Another figure of Chaos-group in Hesiod's text, is the son of Nyx, Momus. He appears in the Poilly Minchiate in all 3 versions. Twice he has an "unnumbered state" and once he has the number "29".

and in the 42 card version he gets the 29:

Momus had been already part of the early discussions in 15th century, when Trionfi cards were invented. Leon Battista Alberti wrote a Momus version in 1443-150, possibly reacting on the happy life in Ferrara, where h had oce before, where he became acquainted with the text of the satiric writer Lucian, and Lucian also wrote about Momus. Momus became part of a sort of triumhal celebration by Renee d'Anjou 1462 in Provence and then influenced forms of early French carnival. Momus is likely also the background for this early beggar ...

.. and this late beggar called Miseria:

.. both Tarocchi cards (Mantegna Tarocchi and Taracco Sicilano.

More to this at ...


Well, the third CHAOS

A third Chaos took place between me and mainly MikeH, when we started to discuss the CAOS DEL TRIPERUNO (1527) of Teofilo Folengo in the days of the foolish boy bishop before Christmas 2011 and after Christmas.
This is a brainstorm and by far not ready. We smashed 3 threads full of ideas and not much will understand the procedere. And, as said, we're not finished ...

It's about Teofilo Folengo

Basically there are 5 Tarocchi Sonnets in the heart of that, what we (or at least me) call "chapter 12" of the Triperuno. Actually this chapter 12 is a dialog between Limerno (pseudonym of Teofilo Folengo; this pseudonym wrote the Orlandino, which is a work about the youth of the hero Orlando), and Triperuno (the major figure; another pseudonym of Folengo, and in the course of the Triperuno the figure of Tiperuno has a lot of poems), and into this discussion comes Fulica, well, a third component and again a pseudonym of Theofilo Folengo. Fulica gets not so much text, but stands for the religious perspective (Folengo was a Benedectine monk). Fulica appears, when the Tarocchi sonnets are just finished.
[Last sonnet by Limerno just finished]
Limerno: But what miracle is this that I now see, my [dear] Triperuno?
Triperuno: Where?
Limerno: That solemn fool of a Fulica I see coming toward us.
So it's clear, Fulica is the personified Fool (at least in Limerno's opinion), and he naturally appears, when Limerno is ready with his Tarocchi.

Well, another pseudonym of Folengo had been before active, Merlinus Coccai, and Merlinus had his show before Fuilica, and Fulica replaces Merlinus. Merlnus Coccai had written the Baldo, which was a very successful adventure story around a hero called Baldo, and this text was already famous for his satiric attitude. Something like Don Quichotte, or Pulci's Morgante, or Boiardo's Orlando or Ariost's Orlando, but just a little more satiric and a little more complicated as likely all of them. Baldo is called the forerunner of Rabelais "Gargantua", if you understand, what I mean. Folengo is a sort of James Joyce of early 16th century, and - as James Joyce isn't understood, similar Folengo isn't understood and especially the Triperuno has the glamour to be not understood.

All this you might explore, if you follow one these links and all lead into the Caos del Triperuno,

The Baldo has also pictures, here's one ...

... anyway, I think, the mystery of the Triperuno-Tarocchi-sonnets is, that they are of greater importance, as the innocent reader might discover at first moment. And if you don't discover the riddle of the Tarocchi sonnets, you've no real chance to understand the Triperuno work.


And the greater context between Chaos I and Chaos II and Chaos III ...

Folengo wrote the Triperuno 1527, when the Tarocchi game hadn't a big presence in France. Then Rabelais detected the text and published his first Gargantua text 1534. Naturally it took some time till the Gargantua text had arrived a successful state.
Around 1580 the Tarocchi game reached a successful state in France with a height likely c. 1620-1625, in a time, when the Italian king's mother Maria de Medici had still a greater part of her influence. Then the French king and his mother got trouble between each other and the Italian influence went down in France. However, some Tarot interest we can still perceive till around 1660. Then it seems, as if the game became less interesting for some time.

With Copernicus and Galileo we see raising doubts about the geocentric model of the world . Galileo died 1442 as a prisoner. One year later the French king died and the 5 years old Louis became king of France and already in young years he was styled as "Sun-king" or "le Roi-Soleil", which somehow indictes, that at least some persons adapted the heliocentric model. The medieval times were gone and a new time appeared and the phase of the Age of Enlightenment started. Tarot was medieval and beside of this it was in French eyes a game of the Germans and had Empress and Emperor, and this didn't really fit with a world, in which the most mighty person in Europe had been the French king. It's not really a wonder, that Tarot interests in France went down - just then.
The Poilly deck - likely arranged c. 1660 - drops at the begin of this development, when Louis XIV. just started to reign actively. It also appears, when just the current most influential man in France died, cardinal Mazarin.

Mazarin loved playing cards since his youth (he had a relative humble origin). As a part of his well running career he had organized gambling activities, and by this he gained some of his political influence. In 1443, when the French king and cardinal Richelieu died, Mazarin became very mighty. Mazarin arranged, that the young 5-year-old king got educative playing cards .. and so the 17th century became full of educative playing cards. The commissioned artist Stefano della Bella made also one mythology deck and this project definitely influenced later Poilly.

Mazarin by Nicolas Poilly, brother of Francois Poilly, the Minchiate engraver

Young Louis XIV with Mazarin picture by Francois Poilly himself
both pictures at ...

Mazarin had a further favor and this was his love to Merlinus Coccai alias Teofilo Folengo. He, well known for his excellent memory, is said to have quoted longer passages of Folengo by heart. If the Caos of Triperuno belonged to his repertoire and favor, I don't know, but we have the feature, that the Chaos idea entered the Poilly deck and that this idea wasn't dead, when Etteilla took up his new development with new Tarot cards.
There are doubts, if the Poilly decks immediately became very important for the French playing card development c. 1660, but this form survived at least about 100 years. And Francois Poilly the elder got a high-ranked engraver position at the French court in the time of Louis XIV, and his family (between them a series of other engravers) profited from this a very long time.

The usual Tarot wasn't seen as a Tarot deck for cartomancy likely till c. 1850. Etteilla's version was, but if one should decide, if Etteilla's version between 1800-1850 had been more successful than the Petit Oracle des Dames (which also included Tarot cards in Etteilla style), I wouldn't be sure. And the Petit Oracle des Dames had 42 cards, similar to one of the Michiate versions of Poilly.
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Ross G Caldwell  Ross G Caldwell is offline
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Ross G Caldwell 

Point of correction:

Originally Posted by Huck View Post
This picture (I don't know, how old it is) shows Chaos, Nyx = Night and Erebos, brother and husband of Night.
There is no "Chaos" nor "Erebos" in this Christian icon. It shows "Esaias" (ΗϹΑΙΑϹ, the biblical prophet Isaiah) between Nyx, night (correct) and Orthros, dawn (liturgical).

"This magnificent miniature showing the prophet Isaiah at prayer, between Nyx, the night and Orthros, the young day, belongs to the world-famous book of psalms known as the Paris Psalter. It is a tenth century manuscript from Byzantium, from the metropolis Constantinople and was brought to Paris only in 1557/9 by the ambassador Jean Hurault de Boistaillé."
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Huck  Huck is offline
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Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell View Post
Point of correction:
There is no "Chaos" nor "Erebos" in this Christian icon. It shows "Esaias" (ΗϹΑΙΑϹ, the biblical prophet Isaiah) between Nyx, night (correct) and Orthros, dawn (liturgical).

"This magnificent miniature showing the prophet Isaiah at prayer, between Nyx, the night and Orthros, the young day, belongs to the world-famous book of psalms known as the Paris Psalter. It is a tenth century manuscript from Byzantium, from the metropolis Constantinople and was brought to Paris only in 1557/9 by the ambassador Jean Hurault de Boistaillé."
You're right, I agree.
I added your point to the original article.
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Huck  Huck is offline
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I've already variously pointed to the work of Andrea Vitali, who in the last 2-3 years had build up a remarkable website in Italian and to a great part also in English language.
English version

Of special interest is the Essay or Saggi page (see in the upper menu at the page).

This contains meanwhile 30 articles in English and 55 Italian articles, alone in the category "Essays of Andrea Vitali" ... often these articles are rather long and contain a lot of material.

22 articles (English/Italian) are in the Iconography section, also by Andrea Vitali. This is an already earlier, however, it is occasionally updated. Each article (one for each trump card) is usually accompanied by 10-15 pictures, which show the major old variants.

Further there are 19 articles in the category "Host Essays", though only 5 of them are presented in English language.

So together 96 article, often very complex, and from these 57 translated. This is lkely more as a rather big book.

The translations have occasionally weaknesses (still - we're working on this problem, but, as this is a lot of text, this takes time; the major helper in the moment is MikeH alias Michael Howard).

Another weakness is the menu, the articles (in the Andre Vitali essays) are sorted mainly according the time, when they were written, so starting at top and finishing at the bottom. The titles are shortened and it is not easy to decipher, what's the topic. Some articles have a large distance to the major topic Tarot and so might be disappointing.

Observing this problem I made a second order of the texts by capturing the essentials (only for the Andrea Vitali Essays). And I created a second sorting in different groups according the theme and inside the groups sorted in time, if it was possible. Further I connected it with links to web material, for instance web discussions.
For the moment that's still far from perfect, but I consider it a worthwhilel help [at least for myself], if somebody is interested to know, what could be found on this page ... and to have an orientation, what's interesting for himself and what's not.

Well, it's here:
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Silk dealers traded Trionfi Cards

Franco Pratesi has added a further article to his collection at

It's a detailed research about some account books of Florentine dealers of silk, who in a smaller part of their business also traded with playing cards, mainly delivering them to other silk dealers, mainly in other regions of Italy as export article from Florence.
In 16 years (1439 - 1454) 23 sending activities are recorded, in which it is apparent, that playing cards had been part of the deal, which would make c. 1.5 records in a year ... not really much. However, other sales records in the business books only contain total prizes and don't list the delivered items, so there might have been actually some more deals with playing cards and POSSIBLY MUCH MORE.
Between the playing cards are some Trionfi decks (totally 11) and one of them is from the year 1445, which means, that this is now the ...

...4th oldest Trionfi record, that we have

Here's the list, but it's only enjoyable with the abbreviations, which you find in the article. I made a little calculation, and if I didn't make an error, a plausible reduction gives this values ... first the number of the consignments, second the number of the related decks.

1439: 1/35
1440: 8/113
1442: 2/25
1444: 1/10
1445: 3/19 / inclusive 1 Trionfi deck
1446: 1/7
1447: 1/18
1450: 1/2 / 2 Trionfi decks
1451: 3/28 / inclusive 2 Trionfi decks
1454: 1/30 / inclusive 6 Tionfi decks

If I didn't miscount, 287 decks totally, from these 11 Trionfi decks.


Well, some records about the last months of Tarot History research (from the page)

Research Revolutions

Some time ago (2003) Ross Caldwell and myself started to collect early Trionfi documents.
A major research progress had been done then by the publications of Franceschini/Ortalli in 1993/96 ...
.. and Franco Pratesi a short time before, ..
.. articles, which more or less stayed unknown in other publications. In the following years very seldom entries were added for the early time of Trionfi card development till 1463/64 .... till October 2011. Ross Caldwell noted then a new work of Arnold Esch (2007), who had researched custom registers in Rome and detected there lots of playing card notes of 15th century, between them also some Trionfi cards and at least two of them relating to the years 1463 and 1464. Esch wasn't really interested in playing cards, and the real source (the archive in Rom should contain much more material. In the internal discussions ..
.. it became quickly clear, that a more precise research of this material would mean a revolution for Italian playing card research. So we asked Franco Pratesi for some help.

The old list (October 2011) contained 34 entries, from which 2 were insecure. As some of them related to more than one context, the following rough overview has some more entries than 34:

1 Malatesta (1452)
1 Siena (1452)
1 Ancona (?1460)
1-2 Bologna (?1442 + 1459)
1-3 Padova (1455 + ?1449 + ?1461)
2 Florence (1450 + 1463)
2-4 Milan/Cremona (?1441 + 1450 + 1452 + 1457)
3 Iacopo Antonio Marcello (1449 + 1461)
23 Ferrara (1442-1463)


Now it's 8 March 2012

Counting through all these new reports for the list, I find, that there are (at least) 22 new entries between 1440-1464, roughly 60 % more as there had been in October 2011. That's indeed a remarkable progress for a few months, considering that the earlier 34 had 200 years and more to find to our attention.

First there was Ross, who with the base of Arnold Esch's book found a few notes, from which at least two reach the range of 1463 and 1464. One of these notes speaks of "316 Triunfi" decks, a number, which isn't reached by other earlier documents, and this surely indicates, that at least in this time we have a mass production factor. Both "counted notes" likely refer to an import to Rome from Florence, but this isn't sure.

Franco went then through the complete Esch book and found another note from 1453.
8 Triunfi decks were imported to Rome by Giovanni da Pistoia, who possibly worked in Florence. This was in begin of November 2011, Franco added a further research later.
However, Franco, himself living in Florence, considered the work with the Roman archive as problematic, and found more interest to research Florentine material. His first report about this study didn't give reason to much optimism. It seemed to be a case of finding the "needle in a hay-stack".

Anyway, nonetheless Franco detected a series of Trionfi production notes around a not well known card producer Filippo di Marco (Florence naturally) between 1453-58, ...
... in context of the business of an art dealer Bartolomeo Serragli. The success was based on a study done in the 1950s and 1960s by Gino Corti and Frederick Hartt, who failed then to realize, that the mentioned objects were playing cards. 11 Trionfi notes, this was a big fish and the hidden Filippo di Marco proved as man of great Trionfi card dimensions similar to Sagramoro in Ferrara.

A single further note arrived around Christmas from Ferrara from the work of Veber Gulinelli, "Delle carte da Gioco Italiane Storia e diletto". It seems, that it was earlier overlooked by Franceschini (from "14 Lug. 1460").

Thierry Depaulis surprised at begin of February 2012 with a new "oldest Trionfi note" from September 1440, ..
.. reported by Nerida Newbigin about the work of an Anghiara notary and public official Giusto Giusti in "Il Giornali di ser Giusto Giusti d'Anghiari (1437-1482)" in Letteratura Italiana Antica, III, 2002. The deck was produced in Florence and was brought to Sigismondo Malatesta by Giusto Giusti himself. The price was in the dimension of the highest paid prices in Ferrara.

Franco adds with this article 4 further Trionfi notes (early March 2012) from 1445 (Ancona), 1450 (unknown), 1451 (Venice) and 1454 (unknown) from the byway business of two silk traders, both (again) naturally from Florence. They are part of 23 recorded deals with playing cards within 15 years. The note of 1445 is - for the moment - the 4th-oldest of all Trionfi notes.

Franco has two other new entries, which are more or less "unpublished" in the moment (1450/51), both Trionfi allowances in smaller towns in the Florentine region.

From the 22 new documents possibly 21 (or a little less) refer to Florence, so the earlier dominance of the Tarot city Ferrara is broken. Totally there are now 56 documents, from which 24 belong to Ferrara, and possibly 23 (or less) to Florence.

3-4 documents between 1440-1442
Only 1 to 1443-1448
12 documents between 1449-1452

Still the statistic gives the impression, as if there had been a blocking condition (prohibition ?), which hindered the quick distribution of the game in the years 1443-1448.
We have to admit, that Franco's strategy to hunt for the dealers of playing cards have led to a big success. Actually the document of the silk dealers and also the article to the Puri family ..
... which didn't include material about Trionfi cards are both very rich sources with the chance to detect by them more dealers of playing cards and so possibly more documents.

And for the material of Esch ... there is still a lot of material, which is - for the moment - still untouched.
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Wonderful news!

I greatly appreciate the painstaking research which has brought this to light. Many thanks for posting. I'm off to check out the links now.

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Originally Posted by Bernice View Post
Wonderful news!

I greatly appreciate the painstaking research which has brought this to light. Many thanks for posting. I'm off to check out the links now.

Thank you, Bee.


As a recent publication we have an older article of Franco Pratesi in the year 1989 (in the IPCS Journal). This is about some (then new) findings in Bologna, which included also an 18th century document about Cartomancy, later in some reaction's called "Pratesi's Cartomancer", which became a sort of common expression.
Actually the article was about a few things more than the cartomancy text. You find it near the end of the article.
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Huck  Huck is offline
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Germini and Ganellini are assumed to be other names for the Minchiate game.
As I recently made some extended studies to the Minchiate Francesi (also called Poilly decks) it became of interest to know a little more about the development of these other names.
With some luck I found the oldest known use of the Germini name ... for the current moment.

Germini 1517/18

The author is Giovanni Cambi (1459-1535).
The used text is from 1785.


Germini in 1517

The mentioned Filippo Strozzi is the grandfather of Filippo di Piero Strozzi, from whom I assume, that he participated in the production of the Tarot de Paris in the year 1559.


Germini in 1518


Ganellini 1613

The author Bonifacio Vannozzo (1540-1621) worked as a cardinal's secretary, at least in the 1590's. The cardinal had been then from the Caetani family, actually a great-uncle from Francesco Caetani, duke of Sermoneta, who is said to have introduced the Sicilian Tarocco to Sicily in 1662.


For both texts I've my difficulties to understand fully the circumstances. The passages of Germini might demand, that one studies the original editions to get the context.

About the Germini passages I assume, that they are the oldest momentary known (not counting Minchiate and Sminchiate). Franco Pratesi knew an earlier oldest passage from 1529.

About the Ganellini passage: it's just the oldest, that I found. I've no information about the currently oldest notes.


Added later:
I found this note:

The version of Minchiate played in Genoa presumably continued to be played there until the very early 1930s, when the last packs were manufactured by Solesio. It was probably imported there from Sicily; if so, it was probably known as ‘Gallerini’. Is it possible to find out the rules under which it was played? Can the function of the additional unnumbered trump to be found in some Genoese packs be determined?
[February 2012: Thierry Depaulis comments that Ganellini was played in Genoa as early as 1600 before the game became known in Sicily. Also, tarot cards were made in Palermo as early as 1630, much earlier than Villabianca assumed.]

So my passage isn't the oldest - for Ganellini.
Top   #210
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