The Number 21 and the Tarot Trumps


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Ross G Caldwell  Ross G Caldwell is offline
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Ross G Caldwell 

Hi Huck, et al.,

In the light of this discussion about the number of trumps, here's an unfinished paper discussing the three readings of the "70 cards" 1457 reference, starting with autobis' theory and moving on to Hurst and my own.

(the part that is most unfinished is that dealing with Michael Hurst, but I think that the captions are clear enough to give the idea of what I meant).

"Big Triumph Cards, 70 per pack"

The earliest mention of a pack of Triumph cards (February 10, 1442) says it is composed of 4 suits and figures, without describing which figures and how many. But the earliest mention of the _number_ of cards in a Triumph pack (July 21, 1457) immediately poses a problem of interpretation.

The document is an account of payment to the d'Este court artist specializing in Triumph cards, Gerardo de Andrea da Vincenza, for two packs of "big triumph cards, which have 70 cards per pack." (para due de carte grande da trionfi, che sono carte 70 per zogo)

First noted by Campori in 1874, then confirmed and republished by Franceschini in 1996, this reference in the d'Este accounts was first considered troubling by Gherardo Ortalli in 1996 (neither Campori nor Dummett commented on the number when mentioning it previously). Although he noted the problem, Ortalli proposed no solution.

Four solutions have since been offered:

1. The trumps are fewer in number;
2. It is a reduced pack;
3. It is a scribal error.
4. It is another kind of "Triumph cards".

Succinctly -

1. In 2003, autorbis suggested that the reference refers to a Triumph card pack with 14 trump cards, which combined with a pack of 4 suits of 14 cards would make 70.

2. A critic of autobis, Michael J. Hurst, proposed another solution in 2003, that it refers to a reduced pack, in which two pip cards of each suit are not present.

3 & 4. I myself suggested the third and fourth interpretations.

Follows the evidence adduced by the authors of the solutions to the "70 cards" problem, in the order given above (Autorbis, Hurst, Caldwell A, Caldwell B).

1. Autorbis.

Autorbis' primary evidence consists of two things:

A. The 14 Trumps painted by Bonifacio Bembo remaining in the Visconti-Sforza or Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo (PMB - named for the museums among which the full set of cards is currently divided) pack;

B. The Ferrara 1457 mention of 70 cards.

Additionally he refers to:

C. 14 pictures painted on card-stock in 1441;

D. A German playing card pack from the late 15th century containing 5 suits of 14 cards.

Discussion of the evidence.

A. The PMB is considered to have been painted by Bonifacio Bembo for a member of the Sforza household between 1450 and 1453. The surviving pack contains 68 cards painted by Bembo, and 6 Trumps painted approximately two decades later by another artist.

The question is which suggests itself is: were the latter six cards newly introduced to the pack, or did they replace lost or damaged cards originally painted by Bembo?

To answer this question, appeal must be made to the earlier packs painted for the Visconti, at least one of which is by Bembo, and to theories of the original design and development of the standard model of 22 trumps.

The Visconti di Modrone or Cary-Yale (CY) pack, also painted by Bonifacio Bembo, contains 11 trumps. Of these trumps, 6 are common to the PMB and CY, 2 are present in the 22 standard trump sequence, and 3 are not present in the standard sequence but do appear in the Minchiate pack of Florence, attested a century later. Additionally, this pack contains 6 court cards per suit, a unique feature. These qualities have given rise to various interpretations.

Several early commentators believed that the CY was an early Minchiate pack, and that the standard model was formed from it. However, because Minchiate packs are not known in the 15th century, and because Minchiate also does not possess 6 court cards, as far as I know this theory has no adherents today.

In 1974 Ronald Decker proposed that the CY lacked a Fool, and had only 14 trumps. In exchanges with Michael Dummett in the _Journal of the Playing Card Society_ in 1974-1975, this theory was debated, and it seems that Decker no longer believes it. Dummett's account of the issues and summary of the exchange, in 1980, deserves to repeated in full, because it also contains a theory of the evolution of the number and subjects of the trumps:

"The Visconti di Modrone pack is the only Tarot pack, of any kind, in which the suits include court cards other than the usual King, Queen, Cavalier and either Jack or Maid. There must have been sixty-four suit cards originally, and whether a Fool was included, it is impossible to say. Ronald Decker has suggested that there may originally have been only fourteen triumphs, and no Fool, so as to make up the usual total of 78 cards (footnote, cited after); but the total number of cards in the pack is unlikely to have been seen as a significant feature. Since four of the stock set of seven Virtues were included among the triumphs, it seems probable that the other three were also: Temperance and Justice, which belong to the standard list of triumph subjects, and Prudence, which does not. It is just possible, on the other hand, that what was held constant was the ratio between the number of triumphs and the number of cards in each suit, which, in the 78-card Tarot pack, is 3:2; if this was also so in the Visconti di Modrone pack, it would have had twenty-four triumph cards, in which case it could have contained all save one of the usual subjects, making, if the Fool was included, a pack of 89 cards, altogether; indeed, if we do not suppose that it included Prudence, it could have had all of the usual subjects.

(footnote discussion of Decker-Dummett debate: ) Mr Decker presumes that the Visconti di Modrone pack had only 78 cards, like other Tarot packs; since it must have had 64 suit cards, that leaves only 14 triumph cards and no Fool. There can, on this reasoning, have been no Fool, since Mr Decker accepts my view that the three missing Virtues must originally have been present, and, if we add these to the eleven surviving triumphs, we already obtain 14, and there is no room for the Fool. Mr Decker then takes the illogical step of arguing that, since there are only 13 (surviving) triumph cards in the Visconti-Sforza pack that were painted by Bembo, perhaps these, together with the Fool, were all that the pack originally contained. This is illogical because in this pack there are only the usual 56 suit cards, so that he is suggesting an original pack of only 70 cards, whereas the original premiss (Decker's) was that all Tarot packs had 78 cards. He attempts to rescue his hypothesis by conjecturing that the Visconti-Sforza pack had originally six court cards in each suit; but this is obviously very special pleading. On his hypothesis, there would, besides the suit cards, have been been seven cards in common between the two packs: the Empress, the Emperor, Love, Justice, the Chariot, Death and the Judgment. Seven of the triumphs present in the Visconti di Modrone pack would then have been removed, namely the World and the six Virtues other than Justices, when the Visconti-Sforza pack was painted, to make room for the Fool, the Bagatto, the Popess, the Pope, the Wheel of Fortune, the Hermit (which originally represented Time), and the Hanged Man. Later, when the number of triumphs was increased by eight, this was done by restoring from the original set of subjects, the World and two of the Virtues, Temperance and Fortitude, but not the other four, and adding the Devil, the Tower, the Star, the Moon and the Sun. All this makes so little sense, and is so grossly implausible, that the hypothesis that demands it is not to be entertained. What is impressive about the fifteenth-century Tarot packs that have come down to us is not the variation in subjects, but, on the contrary, their invariance, given the fact that no pack has survived complete. Certainly we must allow that, after the Visconti di Modrone pack was made, four of the seven Virtues were removed: the advantage of the hypothesis that that pack contained twenty-four triumph cards (not including the Fool as a triumph) is that it gives a reason for the removal of at least three of them when the number was reduced to twenty-one."
(Game of Tarot, pp. 77-78, and note 34).

Autorbis' theory bears little relation to Decker's, so that the latter cannot really be considered a precursor. Autorbis' theory posits that Triumph packs were made to order with whatever subjects were demanded by those who commissioned them, so that notions such as "standard subjects" and "standard number" or ratio of trumps to suit cards do not apply until some time after 1457.

(An interesting point from Dummett's account is the final sentence, and the implications of the whole passage: that the CY represents a previous standard of sorts, and bears some kind of direct relationship with the PMB, so that by removing the three theological Virtues and rejecting Prudence from ever having been part of pack, the "reduced" standard pack results. Instead of taking the CY as an unusual experiment, inspired *by* the standard model, it is regarded as a former standard model, before the emergence of the standard trump series. This gives some context to statements throughout his 1980 work, and the assertion in 1996, that the "number and subjects of the trump series were fixed by about 1450", which is the earliest date for the PMB. That is, why would would anything have to be removed from the CY, if the standard trump sequence already existed, and the PMB faithfully represents it? I don't know if Dummett still holds that the Visconti court was the place where the tarot was invented and was its "testing ground", so to speak, until the PMB was painted. I tend to think not.)

Thus most authorities assume some kind of evolution of the pack before a certain date. The question is which date, and what forms did the pack have before then? In their 1996 work "A Wicked Pack of Cards", Decker, Depaulis and Dummett argued for 1450. This date appears to have been chosen because of the discussion of the relationship of the CY to the PMB already quoted, as well as then-newly discovered references to Triumph cards which showed that they were known generically in Milan (Marcello's letter (1449)) and Sforza's letters (1450) and that the game was known in Florence (1450). The implication is that a standard kind of Triumph game, including a standard kind of Triumph cards, was known in diverse places such as Ferrara, Milan, and Florence, by 1450. If this standard pack changed its form in Milan, it is difficult to believe it would also change form in Ferrara and Florence to match. In other words, the game was *popular* by 1450, which precludes luxury models influencing the standard popular type of pack. Therefore, the standard pack of 21 sequential trumps and a Fool existed by 1450 at the latest. Moreover, it appears to have been known in Siena in 1452, and is referred to in Bologna in 1459. Thus at least five cities knew the card game of Triumphs during the 1450s. It seems to me highly implausible that a standard model of 14 trumps in circa 1452 Milan would also be the standard model in all of those places, assuming that a simultaneous change happened to all of them and more at some later date, when the game was already established.

In addition, the consensus is changing on the dating and provenance of the so-called Charles VI pack, and its sister pack in Catania. Comparisons of the designs with the Rosenwald sheets, from Florence (or nearby in Tuscany), as well as the numbering later placed on them, indicate a Florentine provenance (Done by Caldwell and Depaulis, 2005). Independently, Cristina Fiorini concluded from an art historical perspective that the cards are Florentine, and date to around 1450. Taken together, this information changes radically our notions of the origin of these cards, and also indirectly affects Teikemeier's 5x14 hypothesis. This is because the Charles VI cards contain the standard three Virtues, the Fuoco (Tower or House of God), Moon and Sun cards, as well as *both* of the Angel (or Judgment) and World cards. Even if their numbering is late enough to accomodate autorbis' theory comfortably, their composition at this early date is not.

So, what does the foregoing have to say about autorbis' use of the 1457 Ferrara reference in support of the 5x14 theory? In my judgment, it makes the reference less explicable as a reference to a 14 trump pack, and makes its interpretation more difficult.

B. In the light of the weight of evidence for a widespread standard game by 1450, it seems that the best interpretation of the PMB pack's 14 trumps from 1450-53 is that they are fragmentary of a once-complete standard pack. Otherwise, that the pack is an unusual experiment. But it does not seem that it can be used as evidence for a widespread standard 14-trump tarot pack.

C. The 14 images on card stock painted by Jacomo Sagramoro for Bianca Maria Visconti, for which he was paid 2 lire on January 1st 1441, remain obscure. They were made to have fun or play with, it is true. They pre-exist the earliest triumph card reference, in the same records, also true. They also concern key players in early tarot history, both in places where tarot might have been invented, or even by whom it was not inconceivably invented.

But autorbis' theory suggests that they were the prototypes of the PMB images. This goes very far beyond the evidence, and demands improbably narrow conditions for tarot's early development and distribution.

In the first place, if CY were a gift to Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria on their wedding of October, 1441 (a widespread opinion), the CY model must have been conceived sometime before that, and it bears little resemblance to the PMB.

Secondly, if Sagramoro and Bianca Maria worked together to produce the first tarot pack, with 70 cards, but was already sufficiently altered to produce the CY within a few months, how likely is it that the original structure or model would survive until the 1450s as it is represented in the PMB? And how could it become mass-produced enough to make it into common parlance by 1449, and be as widespread as to be in Milan and Florence by 1450?

That is, why and how was it relatively mass-produced? Sforza and Bianca Maria lived a fairly unsettled life between the time of their marriage and late 1447. There would be little time to develop and commission dozens of decks and send them places, let alone to have them take root and develop a following large enough to gain the notice of lawmakers.

Note also that Marcello in 1449 calls Filippo Maria's invention a "new kind of Triumphs", implying that it was apparent to him that the others were an old kind (that Filippo Maria's pack was probably not new is beside the point). That is, that before 1447, he thought Filippo Maria had already designed a "new kind" of triumphs. Since he is a good witness and no doubt inquired a little into the game (he sought out the artisans of triumph cards), this narrows our window of time for Bianca Maria to propagate her new invention, to between 1441 and 1447. Did she really have the resources or opportunity for this?

To me, the 1441 notice remains as obscure as ever, and despite the circumstances and numbering, is not a proof of the 5x14 theory.

D. Master PW's Cologne pack has five suits with 14 cards. It illustrates that someone could conceive of a pack of cards with 5 suits and 14 cards in each suit. But the suits have an identical structure, with 10 pips and 4 court cards, and it is not apparent that any suit is a permanent trump suit. It doesn't resemble a pack of Triumph cards, in which the permanent trump suit contained an allegorical series of cards.

Therefore, this pack doesn't seem to support the idea that the original structure of the Triumph pack was 5x14. It appears to be a coincidental number on an unrelated pack, and raises more questions than it answers.

These considerations are hardly definitive, and are merely my opinion.

Autorbis' theory is widely discussed on internet groups, and appears to be gaining adherents. It appeared in print, unattributed, in Giordano Berti's "Storia di tarocchi" (Mondovi, 2007). However, it has not been critically assessed by recognized authorities on early tarots such as Michael Dummett or Thierry Depaulis.

2. Hurst.

For support of a shortened pack Hurst adduces the later attested practices of either removing pip cards from a full pack or manufacturing shortened (or augmented) packs for various kinds of Tarot games, i.e.

97-card Minchiate (Florence, early 16th century)
66-card Rules of Tarot (France, 1637/1585?)
64-card Sicilian Tarot (Sicily, 17th century)
62-card Tarocchino (Bologna, 17th century)
54-card Italian-suited German decks (mid 18th century)
54-card French-suited modern decks (mid 18th century)
42-card Hungarian decks (late 18th century)

(from Hurst's webpage "Collected Fragments of Tarot History," page 2, "1440-1479: Decembrio to Boiardo" at
http://www.geocities.com/cartedatrio...1440-1479.html )

At the head of this list, Hurst puts "70-card _carte grande da trionfi_ (Ferrara, 1457)", to indicate conformity with a pattern.

In my opinion, this presentation is potentially misleading.

1. Distance in time.

2. Lack of attestation of any shortened packs in the 15th century.

3. My principal and final objection is the improbability of making two very luxurious, custom designed packs, with two pips from each suit missing. If there were a popular Triumph game which demanded a reduced pack, wouldn't it be easier to simply lay aside these two cards from each suit, as demanded in some later games?

Also, if the original game were desired, the whole pack would still be there; and if a regular game without trumps were desired, that would be possible as well. One of the advantages of a Triumph pack was that a regular card pack was included.

Caldwell A.

Since both Campori and Franceschini independently transcribed the number in the manuscript as the Arabic number "70", it is unlikely that they both misread it; any error would therefore have to be in the autograph.

This is admittedly the weakest hypothesis a priori; since the autograph is not published, it is impossible to discuss it further on the basis of direct evidence.

However, scribes often make mistakes, and with a hapax legomenon like this, it is not to be ruled out. (refer to habit of rounding off numbers - Berni says that the tarocchi player has "hundreds" of cards; Orioli says that Bolognese packs have sixty cards, etc.)

Caldwell B.

This possibility is, that the "big Triumph cards" refers to another kind of Triumph cards than the presumed standard model, perhaps with different subjects and a different number of subjects. This might be the case if it were an isolated experiment, like the Visconti di Modrone (Cary-Yale Visconti) seems to be.

I consider this unlikely because Triumph cards appears to be a generic type of product, even if modifications were sometimes made in the subjects and number of the trumps, or the size of the cards. The game would have to be intelligible, and to be so it has to match or only vary slightly from some kind of standard.

Two kinds of variations in the number of the trumps are known, an augmentation and a diminution. The Minchiate (or Germini) of Florence, augmented the complete trump series with 20 cards. The Lucca variation (Dummett and McLeod 2004, pp. 353-354), in the 17th century used only 12 trumps: those numbered VIIII (Wheel) to XV (Tower) and the five arie, unnumbered, and the Matto. Thus 69 cards.

Both of these packs are clearly modifications of the standard series, not prototypes of it, so they cannot be used as evidence that a 14-trump pack once existed.


Ross Caldwell
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mjhurst  mjhurst is offline
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Hi, Ross,

Excellent, as usual. Thanks especially for the extended quote, as well as the detailed analysis.

Re my shortened deck idea, your points about "distance in time" and "lack of attestation of any shortened packs in the 15th century" seem to be variations of the same point. The idea behind the disparate examples is that the game itself induced different people, playing different versions of the game, at widely different times and places, to alter the trump/suit-card ratio in increasingly dramatic fashion. More than a few people felt this need. That, of course, is an inherently weak argument, intended only to make the possibility more plausible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
3. My principal and final objection is the improbability of making two very luxurious, custom designed packs, with two pips from each suit missing. If there were a popular Triumph game which demanded a reduced pack, wouldn't it be easier to simply lay aside these two cards from each suit, as demanded in some later games?
If this were a common enough game, and if we were talking about a mass-produced deck, yes. And in my hypothesis, that is precisely what the patron of these two decks would have done, when using regular decks. But these were costly one-off decks.

They were (presumably, if the "70" is correct) being specifically commissioned for a particular person. In the earliest rules one is advised to shorten a mass-produced deck before play, which makes sense. Only if that shortened deck becomes a universal norm would card makers even consider producing a (new) stripped deck instead of the (traditional) complete one. Such things did, however, happen repeatedly many times in many places over the centuries, with regular and with Tarot decks. But before those stripped decks were produced, regular decks were stripped by the players for their favored game.

Let's assume that you and your high-born friends had adopted a practice in your own games of leaving out a few of the least interesting game pieces, that you found that this practice livened up the game a bit. Let's assume that you were commissioning a couple special, "grande" decks for your personal use. Why not 1) save a little money and 2) customize the deck according to your personal tastes and game play? It is clear from the varied orderings of the trumps (more than a dozen being documented) and varied iconographies (many dozens of variations being known) that everyone who had the chance added their own "creative contribution" to the deck, devising a custom pattern.

However, I actually like your "weakest hypothesis" best.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
Since both Campori and Franceschini independently transcribed the number in the manuscript as the Arabic number "70", it is unlikely that they both misread it; any error would therefore have to be in the autograph.

This is admittedly the weakest hypothesis a priori; since the autograph is not published, it is impossible to discuss it further on the basis of direct evidence.

However, scribes often make mistakes, and with a hapax legomenon like this, it is not to be ruled out. (refer to habit of rounding off numbers - Berni says that the tarocchi player has "hundreds" of cards; Orioli says that Bolognese packs have sixty cards, etc.)
Yeah, hate to say it but, given our extremely limited information, I like that one the best. That is partly because it most strongly emphasizes the fragmentary and uncertain nature of the account. Whatever our conclusion might be, it is highly speculative and therefore has little value as a basis for subsequent theorizing.

Best regards,
Michael
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le pendu  le pendu is offline
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le pendu 

Thanks for that Ross!

Doesn't it seem that there was a lot of experimentation early on in tarot history? We have the deck with the 16 gods, and we have the Cary-Yale Visconti as examples.

I don't find it at all surprising that a deck of 14 could have existed. Even the remarks about the 14 images for Bianca doesn't strike me as odd.

Where I have trouble with Teikemeier (5x14, Trionfi.com) is the attempt to prove that the Visconti-Sforza deck (Bembo 14, Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo) is an example of a 14 deck. It just doesn't work for me. I can easily imagine a 14 card deck made of vices and virtues, or some such theme with an internal, easy to recognize system; but I don't believe the Visconti-Sforza is an example of that.

I'm glad to see the dating and provenance suggested for the Charles VI. I personally have always believed the Tower and Devil were part of early tarot form, and not something added after the Visconti decks. Since there is a visual relationship between the Charles VI and the decks of Bologna, do you have thoughts on which may have influenced the other?

It seems to me that there was some early experimentation with themes and numbers, and at some point the "Standard 22" became the popular deck.

Frankly, what still bothers me, (and I think I'm in the minority), is that I don't believe the "structure" of the standard 22 is all that "recognizable", (that someone could look at the cards and understand which trumped which). I still think we are missing something that explains why these images were chosen and why their internal order would have made sense to their audience. I also wonder if the images in the standard 22 are culled from a larger group? Why a Popess? Why an Empress? Why a Hanged Man? Why a Bateleur? Surely better images (like the Mantegna) could have been chosen to illustrate the "estates of man" leading up to salvation?

Enough rambling. Thanks again.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by le pendu
Frankly, what still bothers me, (and I think I'm in the minority), is that I don't believe the "structure" of the standard 22 is all that "recognizable", (that someone could look at the cards and understand which trumped which). I still think we are missing something that explains why these images were chosen and why their internal order would have made sense to their audience. I also wonder if the images in the standard 22 are culled from a larger group? Why a Popess? Why an Empress? Why a Hanged Man? Why a Bateleur? Surely better images (like the Mantegna) could have been chosen to illustrate the "estates of man" leading up to salvation
For me, the interested amateur, Roberts last sentence (illustrating estates of man) is of good common sense, and is one of the reasons I believe the Tarot was culled from a larger group and we still have not realised why these images were chosen for the game. A salvation story would have been more direct. The 'Know your place' stations/class would also have been clearer.
Thank you Ross for your post on the unfinished paper- it was a great read! So was MJHurst's counter post. I have wondered if the Visconti that appears to be short of Devils and Towers had the 6 cards painted to bring it up to a generally or usual expected deck not a personal Visconti deck one. One their Visitors would have been able to play with.
~Rosanne
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Hi Ross,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell

In the light of this discussion about the number of trumps, here's an unfinished paper discussing the three readings of the "70 cards" 1457 reference, starting with autobis' theory and moving on to Hurst and my own.

(the part that is most unfinished is that dealing with Michael Hurst, but I think that the captions are clear enough to give the idea of what I meant).

"Big Triumph Cards, 70 per pack"

The earliest mention of a pack of Triumph cards (February 10, 1442) says it is composed of 4 suits and figures, without describing which figures and how many. But the earliest mention of the _number_ of cards in a Triumph pack (July 21, 1457) immediately poses a problem of interpretation. [
The document of 1457 is not the first, which gives information about "trumps". The first was translated by you and the number of the trumps in the Michelino deck was 16.

Quote:

The document is an account of payment to the d'Este court artist specializing in Triumph cards, Gerardo de Andrea da Vincenza, for two packs of "big triumph cards, which have 70 cards per pack." (para due de carte grande da trionfi, che sono carte 70 per zogo)

First noted by Campori in 1874, then confirmed and republished by Franceschini in 1996, this reference in the d'Este accounts was first considered troubling by Gherardo Ortalli in 1996 (neither Campori nor Dummett commented on the number when mentioning it previously). Although he noted the problem, Ortalli proposed no solution.

Four solutions have since been offered:

1. The trumps are fewer in number;
2. It is a reduced pack;
3. It is a scribal error.
4. It is another kind of "Triumph cards".

Succinctly -

1. In 2003, autorbis suggested that the reference refers to a Triumph card pack with 14 trump cards, which combined with a pack of 4 suits of 14 cards would make 70.
Well, perhaps better to tell the complete story ... The opinion, that the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-pack had in its origin a 5x14-structure, existed already, before the news about the 70-cards-note arrived. The note had "only" a confirming value, it was not the cause of the idea.

Autorbis regarded his statement already as almost sure before this confirmation.


Quote:
2. A critic of autobis, Michael J. Hurst, proposed another solution in 2003, that it refers to a reduced pack, in which two pip cards of each suit are not present.

3 & 4. I myself suggested the third and fourth interpretations.


Follows the evidence adduced by the authors of the solutions to the "70 cards" problem, in the order given above (Autorbis, Hurst, Caldwell A, Caldwell B).

1. Autorbis.

Autorbis' primary evidence consists of two things:

A. The 14 Trumps painted by Bonifacio Bembo remaining in the Visconti-Sforza or Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo (PMB - named for the museums among which the full set of cards is currently divided) pack;

B. The Ferrara 1457 mention of 70 cards.

Additionally he refers to:

C. 14 pictures painted on card-stock in 1441;

D. A German playing card pack from the late 15th century containing 5 suits of 14 cards.
Hm ... actually there are much more arguments, a lot of them alone on the point, "which" cards were inside the Bembo group (14 cards) ... and this is the really deciding point, however, it's complex and difficult to argue about it.
.
But also others, for instance, that there is not a single piece of evidence for the existence of the number "22" in all Trionfi documents before the relevant date. And the point, that Marcello called innocently the rather strange Michelino-composition a Trionfi-deck, in this way indicating, that it really didn't bother him, that it had totally different trumps, very curious suits and totally the wrong number of trumps.

Actually it's easy to refer to the old article:
http://trionfi.com/0/f/
and http://trionfi.com/0/f/07/

... it's a little overcome, as meanwhile other arguments have developed, but should be still good enough for the moment.

Quote:
A. The PMB is considered to have been painted by Bonifacio Bembo for a member of the Sforza household between 1450 and 1453. The surviving pack contains 68 cards painted by Bembo, and 6 Trumps painted approximately two decades later by another artist.

The question is which suggests itself is: were the latter six cards newly introduced to the pack, or did they replace lost or damaged cards originally painted by Bembo?

To answer this question, appeal must be made to the earlier packs painted for the Visconti, at least one of which is by Bembo, and to theories of the original design and development of the standard model of 22 trumps.

The Visconti di Modrone or Cary-Yale (CY) pack, also painted by Bonifacio Bembo, contains 11 trumps. Of these trumps, 6 are common to the PMB and CY, 2 are present in the 22 standard trump sequence, and 3 are not present in the standard sequence but do appear in the Minchiate pack of Florence, attested a century later. Additionally, this pack contains 6 court cards per suit, a unique feature. These qualities have given rise to various interpretations.

Several early commentators believed that the CY was an early Minchiate pack, and that the standard model was formed from it. However, because Minchiate packs are not known in the 15th century, and because Minchiate also does not possess 6 court cards, as far as I know this theory has no adherents today.

In 1974 Ronald Decker proposed that the CY lacked a Fool, and had only 14 trumps. ....


...shortened for brevity


Autorbis' theory bears little relation to Decker's, so that the latter cannot really be considered a precursor. Autorbis' theory posits that Triumph packs were made to order with whatever subjects were demanded by those who commissioned them, so that notions such as "standard subjects" and "standard number" or ratio of trumps to suit cards do not apply until some time after 1457.

(An interesting point from Dummett's account is the final sentence, and the implications of the whole passage: that the CY represents a previous standard of sorts, and bears some kind of direct relationship with the PMB, so that by removing the three theological Virtues and rejecting Prudence from ever having been part of pack, the "reduced" standard pack results. Instead of taking the CY as an unusual experiment, inspired *by* the standard model, it is regarded as a former standard model, before the emergence of the standard trump series. This gives some context to statements throughout his 1980 work, and the assertion in 1996, that the "number and subjects of the trump series were fixed by about 1450", which is the earliest date for the PMB. That is, why would would anything have to be removed from the CY, if the standard trump sequence already existed, and the PMB faithfully represents it? I don't know if Dummett still holds that the Visconti court was the place where the tarot was invented and was its "testing ground", so to speak, until the PMB was painted. I tend to think not.)
Well, I'm not so sure, what Decker earlier had in mind and what Dummett tried to suggest. As far autorbis opinion's is concerned, he never believed the Cary-Yale to have had 14 trumps only ... he suggested in a rather old article ...

http://trionfi.com/0/c/2209/

... that it probably had a 5x16-structure, so following the usual matrix-idea of common decks as the proposed 5x14-deck. He also had a detailed opinion about the reconstructable content (however, with own doubts).

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Thus most authorities assume some kind of evolution of the pack before a certain date. The question is which date, and what forms did the pack have before then? In their 1996 work "A Wicked Pack of Cards", Decker, Depaulis and Dummett argued for 1450. This date appears to have been chosen because of the discussion of the relationship of the CY to the PMB already quoted, as well as then-newly discovered references to Triumph cards which showed that they were known generically in Milan (Marcello's letter (1449)) and Sforza's letters (1450) and that the game was known in Florence (1450). The implication is that a standard kind of Triumph game, including a standard kind of Triumph cards, was known in diverse places such as Ferrara, Milan, and Florence, by 1450. If this standard pack changed its form in Milan, it is difficult to believe it would also change form in Ferrara and Florence to match. In other words, the game was *popular* by 1450, which precludes luxury models influencing the standard popular type of pack. Therefore, the standard pack of 21 sequential trumps and a Fool existed by 1450 at the latest. Moreover, it appears to have been known in Siena in 1452, and is referred to in Bologna in 1459. Thus at least five cities knew the card game of Triumphs during the 1450s. It seems to me highly implausible that a standard model of 14 trumps in circa 1452 Milan would also be the standard model in all of those places, assuming that a simultaneous change happened to all of them and more at some later date, when the game was already established.
Well, there is no agreement about the use of the word standard in this context as you offer with
"The implication is that a standard kind of Triumph game, including a standard kind of Triumph cards, was known in diverse places such as Ferrara, Milan, and Florence, by 1450."
The documents indicate that there were objects called "Trionfi cards" at different locations. The documents don't tell us, if these were "standard decks", which all used the same number of trumps and always used the same "general motifs" and also it is not told, that everywhere was played with the same rules. The remaining cards of the early time all show differences. We can see, that there remained more than one deck of the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-type ... that's perhaps all, what we're told from the few informations, that we have, which points towards standard.

I really don't know, how the magician gets the rabbit "standard" out of his hat for the time till 1460/70. Well, perhaps there was a standard 5x14-deck, but actually we've no evidence for it, and when we've no evidence or chance to get better information, we've to say, that we can't give a judgment.

We have different cards in Florence, Milan, Ferrara, Bologna, we've different number rows, we've totally different Trionfi examples (Michelino, Cary-Yale, Boiardo, Sola Busca, Minchiate, Mantegna Tarocchi, totally other Trionfi elements as the frescoes in Palazzo Schifanoia), we've the anology of a very creative German playing card culture in 15th century, but all this counts nothing, as all this is the exception, and the only rule is: There was a standard. That seems the character of this argumentation.

Well, some standard was there, and it's called best "Matrix-decks". This is a repeating feature between more or less all 15th century decks (of course with a lot of variation) , with only one great exeption and that's the Tarot-form.

... and generally playing-cards-theory states: The Tarot-form developed from the normal Matrix-form. With this general statement we're in the question "when did this happen".

Now we have lots of production recorded from high standing families, from which we know, that in all their artistic forms (let it be frescoes in their Palazzi, book-painting in their books to read, in the form of the architecture of their buildings etc.) were keen to develop their own taste and style.

Now all this differences count nothing, in the deciding matter, which is Tarot, they all were lucky and happy to follow the one and only formulated standard to satisfy the Tarot-theories of the researchers of 20th and 21th century ... so it seems, that the fixation on the 22 cards, once born in 19th century (when Tarot-Tarock was played with decks of the Marseille type, with Bavarian animal Tarocks, with decks, which showed many persons, decks for soldiers, satirical decks, decks with Italian suits, French suits and beside that, the divination Tarots became very curious) with enthusiasm, demands: "that this MUST have been the original".

No. Let's keep to the documents. The documents don't give any information about an early "22". In the 50's of 15th century the game wasn't so much popularized, and we've no confirmation about the existence of really cheap Trionfi decks (and we've confirmation, that still in mid of 16th century Trionfi decks were considered as upper class cards - this must have been not the rule everwhere, of course).

Quote:
In addition, the consensus is changing on the dating and provenance of the so-called Charles VI pack, and its sister pack in Catania. Comparisons of the designs with the Rosenwald sheets, from Florence (or nearby in Tuscany), as well as the numbering later placed on them, indicate a Florentine provenance (Done by Caldwell and Depaulis, 2005). Independently, Cristina Fiorini concluded from an art historical perspective that the cards are Florentine, and date to around 1450. Taken together, this information changes radically our notions of the origin of these cards, and also indirectly affects the 5x14 hypothesis. This is because the Charles VI cards contain the standard three Virtues, the Fuoco (Tower or House of God), Moon and Sun cards, as well as *both* of the Angel (or Judgment) and World cards. Even if their numbering is late enough to accomodate autorbis' theory comfortably, their composition at this early date is not.
Well ... this is given without detailed argument for the moment at this place here. The idea, that this cards might be of Florence origin ... that's okay. These are cards, which went to France finally. Florence had good and early connections to France. That you seem to be secure about it ... nice, but why?
The name Christina Fionni is new ... what makes her argument so of importance?

Quote:
So, what does the foregoing have to say about autorbis' use of the 1457 Ferrara reference in support of the 5x14 theory? In my judgment, it makes the reference less explicable as a reference to a 14 trump pack, and makes its interpretation more difficult.

B. In the light of the weight of evidence for a widespread standard game by 1450, it seems that the best interpretation of the PMB pack's 14 trumps from 1450-53 is that they are fragmentary of a once-complete standard pack. Otherwise, that the pack is an unusual experiment. But it does not seem that it can be used as evidence for a widespread standard 14-trump tarot pack.
The argument, that Trionfi deck's were in the 50's very popular, is not our idea. Our idea is, that it was an upper-class game, still rather exclusive.

Quote:

C. The 14 images on card stock painted by Jacomo Sagramoro for Bianca Maria Visconti, for which he was paid 2 lire on January 1st 1441, remain obscure. They were made to have fun or play with, it is true. They pre-exist the earliest triumph card reference, in the same records, also true. They also concern key players in early tarot history, both in places where tarot might have been invented, or even by whom it was not inconceivably invented.

But autorbis' theory suggests that they were the prototypes of the PMB images.
... ???? ... Where? When? It's somehow said, that one cannot be sure about the content. The argument is about the structure of the deck, not the content of the motifs. A "14" is a "14", nothing else (as a 70 is a 70 btw.). An information about the motifs is not given.

There are funny things around the situation of Ferrara and the time 1441 (Alberti's Momo), which perhaps indicate, that the "Fool"-idea entered the iconography. Lucian was popular in Ferrara around the time. Ferrara had a famous court fool then, Gonella. But we've nothing in the hands to say, that the 14 motifs of 1.1.1441 were the same motifs as in the 14 Bembo cards.

Quote:
This goes very far beyond the evidence, and demands improbably narrow conditions for tarot's early development and distribution.
Well, I see, that you've no really evidence, that this was really suggested.

Actually we more speak from the direction, "that standard didn't really exist".

The conditions between 1.1.1441 and 14 Bembo cards are NATURALLY very close, as both situations have the same focussed person, Bianca Maria Visconti. As nearly all documents, that we have, have "narrow conditions" as they usually relate to those few persons, which made the highest upper class of Italy.
NATURALLY one cannot exclude, that the 14 objects of 1.1.1441 were similar to those 14 trumps of Bembo. But how should somebody know that? By which document? There are a handful of words in the related document, you yourself found it.

Quote:
In the first place, if CY were a gift to Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria on their wedding of October, 1441 (a widespread opinion), the CY model must have been conceived sometime before that, and it bears little resemblance to the PMB.

Secondly, if Sagramoro and Bianca Maria worked together to produce the first tarot pack, with 70 cards, but was already sufficiently altered to produce the CY within a few months, how likely is it that the original structure or model would survive until the 1450s as it is represented in the PMB?
Sagramoro made 14 pictures, not 70. So states the document.

It's interpreted, that it was a suggestion for a marriage deck (cause marriages were often connected to decks and Bianca was on her way to marry.) It's suggested, that it possibly was made for a marriage Bianca Maria - Leonello, which was one of the options in this time (1.1.1441). It was not suggested, that this deck was the Cary-Yale (which according autorbis' opinion had 16 trumps), also it was not suggested, that it was taken as a marriage deck for Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria, which would have been a little bit "without taste", I would say.

... :-) actually it might have caused, that Francesco Sforza got angry on Leonello, and nobody wished that.

Quote:
And how could it become mass-produced enough to make it into common parlance by 1449, and be as widespread as to be in Milan and Florence by 1450?
That is, why and how was it relatively mass-produced?
I don't know, what you're talking about. You think, that the deck, which was made as Cary-Yale, was the same, that Marcello got by accident in the soldier camp 1449?

Leonello made an own deck in February 1442 (document), it was likely neither that, what he made for Bianca Maria (would have been a tasteless action) and of course it was not the Cary-Yale. This deck has of all the three above mentioned decks the best chances to have had a small mass production (perhaps one of the massproduced decks found to the two boys for an 1/8th of the price), from which one deck arrived in the soldier camp. All three decks should have had greater differences. Different people, different triumphal occasions ... ergo different decks. Perhaps some of the basic motifs were identical, but there is no guarantee.

Observable is only, that the motifs of Cary-Yale and Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo (and Brera-Brambilla) partly overlap. But the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo doesn't belong to these 3 older decks.

Quote:
Sforza and Bianca Maria lived a fairly unsettled life between the time of their marriage and late 1447. There would be little time to develop and commission dozens of decks and send them places, let alone to have them take root and develop a following large enough to gain the notice of lawmakers.
It's not assumed, that this Trionfi card business became a great success from beginning on (1441/1442). We've a production stop of nearly 8 years in Ferrara. The politic (Pope Eugen, friendly to Franciscans) was against playing cards. The students in Ferrara had prohibitions to play cards. Alfonso of Aragon, father of Leonello's wife, was against playing cards. The number of prohibition documents in Florence was raised. There is no reason to assume Trionfi productions in this time till 1450. Soldiers in the camp in the Milanese region 1449 naturally played cards - all men outside of law and order. So it's not too remarkable, that we find there also an unusual Trionfi deck.

Quote:
Note also that Marcello in 1449 calls Filippo Maria's invention a "new kind of Triumphs", implying that it was apparent to him that the others were an old kind (that Filippo Maria's pack was probably not new is beside the point). That is, that before 1447, he thought Filippo Maria had already designed a "new kind" of triumphs. Since he is a good witness and no doubt inquired a little into the game (he sought out the artisans of triumph cards), this narrows our window of time for Bianca Maria to propagate her new invention, to between 1441 and 1447. Did she really have the resources or opportunity for this?
I don't understand. Milan made their own Trionfi cards for the wedding of Bianca Maria (Cary-Yale). And that was it. That was the triumphal opportunity. Why should have Bianca Maria had a very great interest in these cards? Have we any indication before 1450? She was a practical woman - she got children and also was competent in reigning and organizing. Her husband had difficulties in the following time and in 1447 - 1450 "he was in war".
The cards had their social function for the romance in the wedding time. The marriage is not the wedding.

Quote:
To me, the 1441 notice remains as obscure as ever, and despite the circumstances and numbering, is not a proof of the 5x14 theory.
The date (1st of January, a day for playing activities) and the surrounding conditions (a "wedding preparation", a "romantic situation"), the Trionfi card producing commissioner (Leonello, commissioned Trionfi cards at other opportunities), the painter (Sagramoro, painted Trionfi cards at other opportunities), all these factors make it plausible, that the described object are playing cards, specific playing cards, later called Trionfi cards. The number is "right", as it is reasonably suspected without this entry, that the early number of Trionfi cards were 14.
So it's a relevant document (with small insecurities) ... what do you want? If you dislike a document or its implications, what does it change? You've to respect, that it's a factor, that might help to decipher the situation.

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D. Master PW's Cologne pack has five suits with 14 cards. It illustrates that someone could conceive of a pack of cards with 5 suits and 14 cards in each suit. But the suits have an identical structure, with 10 pips and 4 court cards, and it is not apparent that any suit is a permanent trump suit. It doesn't resemble a pack of Triumph cards, in which the permanent trump suit contained an allegorical series of cards.

Therefore, this pack doesn't seem to support the idea that the original structure of the Triumph pack was 5x14. It appears to be a coincidental number on an unrelated pack, and raises more questions than it answers.
This is of a later time, ca. 1500, and naturally it can't have influenced the situation of 1440 or 1450. But it testifies, that 5x14 decks were not totally uncommon, so it meets simply this specific argument, that "5x14-decks were totally unknown and unusual". They were not totally uncommon or unknown.

How much informations do we have till ca. 1500, which tell us something about the deck structure of the played games? A lot of the decks are incomplete and they carry no definite informations.

So let's assume, that with that we perhaps know, that 5-10 % of all known "decks with structural information" before 1500 had a 5x14 structure? Too much?
And when we add the 70 cards note (1457) and the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-deck and the 14-objects-note from 1.1.1441, how much percent would we have then?

How much sure notes we have from Tarot and about the Tarot structure in 15th century? There is the Boiardo poem and the Sola-Busca and ... then?
Sure, with some goodwill there are some more.
But the 70-cards-note, and the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-deck and the 14-objects-note ALSO need only a little goodwill to be acceptable representations of the 5x14-structure.

Quote:
These considerations are hardly definitive, and are merely my opinion.

Autorbis' theory is widely discussed on internet groups, and appears to be gaining adherents. It appeared in print, unattributed, in Giordano Berti's "Storia di tarocchi" (Mondovi, 2007). However, it has not been critically assessed by recognized authorities on early tarots such as Michael Dummett or Thierry Depaulis.
Who, as it seems, avoid the nearer discussion.

Thanks for your statements.
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Hi Robert!

Quote:
Originally Posted by le pendu
Doesn't it seem that there was a lot of experimentation early on in tarot history? We have the deck with the 16 gods, and we have the Cary-Yale Visconti as examples.
Sure. I think the best assumption is that a trumping game existed, and someone thought, "Why not have a *permanent* trump suit?" Then the only question left was "What subjects should the trumps be?". So besides Marziano and Filippo's Gods and Heroes deck, there may have been others... and obviously were, since we have Tarot.

The Cary-Yale is obviously very close to regular tarot; so close that Dummett could make the argument he did back in 1980, that the standard tarot developed from it. That scenario requires that tarot was fairly limited in the 1440s, limited perhaps to the wealthy courts in Milan and Ferrara. I'm pretty sure he doesn't think this any more, at least since the early 1990s (although there is a hint of it WPC, I'll have to find the passage that made me think of it).

Whether there were more than a couple of experiments is tough to say, since Tarot (Triumphs) won. Boiardo and Sola Busca show different subjects, but are obviously mirroring the structure of regular tarot.

Quote:
I don't find it at all surprising that a deck of 14 could have existed. Even the remarks about the 14 images for Bianca doesn't strike me as odd.

Where I have trouble with Teikemeier (5x14, Trionfi.com) is the attempt to prove that the Visconti-Sforza deck (Bembo 14, Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo) is an example of a 14 deck. It just doesn't work for me. I can easily imagine a 14 card deck made of vices and virtues, or some such theme with an internal, easy to recognize system; but I don't believe the Visconti-Sforza is an example of that.
My guess, if I had to make one, would be that the figures were Virtues and Vices. But I don't know enough (anything) about traditions for January 1 in Ferrara at the time, or among the Este. Maybe there was a "Feast of Fools" of sorts... maybe the pictures were funny, not serious. Who knows?

It's an intriguing document, enough that Berti mentions it in his new book (he could have credited Autorbis and myself...). But the main thing at the time for me after I found it in Franceschini (early 2003), was that it was the first time I learned anything about the closeness of the two courts of Milan and Ferrara at the time. I remember thinking "why would Sagramoro be making cards for Bianca Maria? Did he send them to her or something?" Then I looked up Bianca's biography (Pizzagalli), and found out she was actually *there* in Ferrara, in the middle of a six-month stay (1440-1441)! After that, the ruler of Ferrara, Nicolo III d'Este, accompanied the young woman back to her father, and stayed the rest of his life in Milan, assisting in the government of the Duchy (the rest of his life was short - he died in the early hours of December 26, 1441).

Nobody in the literature, even Kaplan in his patched-together biographies of the Visconti in vol. II, mentioned any of this, or other important details. Not that it's their fault... but they have been taken up since coming to light, and excited a lot of imaginings.

Quote:
I'm glad to see the dating and provenance suggested for the Charles VI. I personally have always believed the Tower and Devil were part of early tarot form, and not something added after the Visconti decks. Since there is a visual relationship between the Charles VI and the decks of Bologna, do you have thoughts on which may have influenced the other?
I think that the Charles VI and Catania tarots were painted in Florence, because they have the Florentine numbering and resemble the Rosenwald (and similar) sheets, which are from that region. So, if the sheets represent the look of the traditional or standard Florentine printed pattern of about 1480, then the Charles VI etc. represents an earlier luxury model either influenced BY the popular standard, or were the prototypes of what would BECOME the popular standard. Since there was already a law permitting Triumph to be played in Florence in 1450, my guess would be that the popular model already existed, could have been very much like the Rosenwald, and that the luxury cards designs were based on the popular printed standard.

I first worked out the comparison in this thread of Aeclectic, post number 16 -
http://tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=59935
(I have to correct my paper below, since I note that the date was February 12, 2006, not "2005" as I wrote).

A little later, I passed these ideas on to Thierry Depaulis, who added that the thought the Valet of Swords also looked more Florentine, citing the Rosenwald Page of Swords in Dummett's plate 7. So, he agreed, and told me about an art history scholar (Cristina Fiorini) who had reached a similar conclusion about the provenance of the Charles VI by a different route (he also took notice of the "X" argument on the Charles VI Chariot, and has published a correction of this error that has been perpetuated since 1980).

Fiorini, Depaulis and myself have now published on this topic, mentioning the idea of a Florentine origin for these cards. Dummett has alluded to it in print, so that among the small number of people researching this question, the consensus has indeed changed.

Quote:
It seems to me that there was some early experimentation with themes and numbers, and at some point the "Standard 22" became the popular deck.

Frankly, what still bothers me, (and I think I'm in the minority), is that I don't believe the "structure" of the standard 22 is all that "recognizable", (that someone could look at the cards and understand which trumped which). I still think we are missing something that explains why these images were chosen and why their internal order would have made sense to their audience. I also wonder if the images in the standard 22 are culled from a larger group? Why a Popess? Why an Empress? Why a Hanged Man? Why a Bateleur? Surely better images (like the Mantegna) could have been chosen to illustrate the "estates of man" leading up to salvation?

Enough rambling. Thanks again.
I'll have to get to those excellent considerations later.

Thanks for giving ME the opportunity to ramble! LOL

Ross
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck

The document of 1457 is not the first, which gives information about "trumps". The first was translated by you and the number of the trumps in the Michelino deck was 16.
1457 is the first time "carte da trionfi" are given a number. "Trionfi" was a generic name, and in the Este records they never describe the pack's composition, except for the very first time in 1442 and in 1457, once - and this has to be because the scribe and anybody checking the record knew what it was.

We have to be careful with terms, in assuming what they refer to. Marziano does not call his game "Triumphs." The role the cards played was what we could call "trumps", and it seems that Marcello saw a distinction between the God cards and the suited cards, so that he thought it was similar in a way to the Triumph game he already had, so he made a comparison between the two. But Marziano's game is only *anachronistically* considerable as "carte da trionfi." That Marcello and Polismagna made the comparison already in the 15th century doesn't make any less an anachronism.

It'd be no different than if I called the internal telephone system of a big company in the 1950s an "internet". Because it's an internal or self-contained network. But the term would be anachronistic, however accurate it might be.

The main value of Marcello's use of the term is that it implies he saw something in the composition of the Michelino pack that brought to mind the triumph pack he already had. Since the two packs have no common visual subjects, the only conclusion I can draw is that the two packs had a similar composition, that is four suits with pips and a court (or courts), and another suit with completely different subjects. A five-part pack. So the value of his use of the term is that it gives us some indication of what the Michelino pack looked like.

Quote:
Well, perhaps better to tell the complete story ... The opinion, that the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-pack had in its origin a 5x14-structure, existed already, before the news about the 70-cards-note arrived. The note had "only" a confirming value, it was not the cause of the idea.

Autorbis regarded his statement already as almost sure before this confirmation.
Yes, I didn't mean to imply otherwise. The subject of the article isn't the 5x14 theory per se, but the interpretation of the 70 cards passage, which necessarily brings up the 5x14 theory.

Quote:
But also others, for instance, that there is not a single piece of evidence for the existence of the number "22" in all Trionfi documents before the relevant date. And the point, that Marcello called innocently the rather strange Michelino-composition a Trionfi-deck, in this way indicating, that it really didn't bother him, that it had totally different trumps, very curious suits and totally the wrong number of trumps.
I don't think he was concerned with the subjects or their number, and I don't think he was offering a definition of "triumphs cards". I think he was making a comparison between two pack of cards that, on looking at them, each had four pip suits and a fifth one of extravagant subjects.

Quote:
Well, there is no agreement about the use of the word standard in this context as you offer with
"The implication is that a standard kind of Triumph game, including a standard kind of Triumph cards, was known in diverse places such as Ferrara, Milan, and Florence, by 1450."
The documents indicate that there were objects called "Trionfi cards" at different locations. The documents don't tell us, if these were "standard decks", which all used the same number of trumps and always used the same "general motifs" and also it is not told, that everywhere was played with the same rules. The remaining cards of the early time all show differences. We can see, that there remained more than one deck of the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-type ... that's perhaps all, what we're told from the few informations, that we have, which points towards standard.
The use of a generic term, "triumphs" or "triumph cards", should indicate a generic object behind the name; otherwise, it might be described in more detail. Obviously there were regional differences, and perhaps even in the same city; but when Sigismondo Malatesta writes Bianca Maria in 1452 for the triumph cards painted in Cremona, he knows what he is talking about, and so does she. There is no further detail. It is a generic, standard product. When Francesco orders packs of triumph cards in 1450, he doesn't specify the designs; he wants a standard product, but of the highest quality. By 1450, "carte da trionfi" was something that brought to mind a specific thing - a standard product.

Quote:
I really don't know, how the magician gets the rabbit "standard" out of his hat for the time till 1460/70. Well, perhaps there was a standard 5x14-deck, but actually we've no evidence for it, and when we've no evidence or chance to get better information, we've to say, that we can't give a judgment.
Looking at the examples above (Francesco and Sigismondo), they simply ask for "carte da trionfi". They want something they already know about. It is not a unique composition, it is a well-defined item, with artisans making it and a market buying it. When Marcello calls Michelino's pack "a new kind of triumphs", he implies that the other pack he had was "an old kind of triumphs". "Old kind" means well-established, well known.

Quote:
We have different cards in Florence, Milan, Ferrara, Bologna, we've different number rows, we've totally different Trionfi examples (Michelino, Cary-Yale, Boiardo, Sola Busca, Minchiate, Mantegna Tarocchi,
The four cities you mention have different styles of the same composition. All of them had 78 card tarots. The differences of design are *not* differences of subject and differences in ordering are cosmetic from the point of view of taxonomy. It would be remarkable if all of these places developed such distinct variations of the exact same composition if they had not a common ancestor.

Michelino is a precursor, not a direct relative, of tarot.
Cary-Yale's position is unclear - earlier and ancestral, or later and derivative.
Boiardo, Sola Busca, Minchiate are all derivative of the already existing standard structure of the tarot. Looking at the evidence from 1448-1452, it seems that structure had to already exist.

Mantegna Tarocchi is neither by Mantegna nor a tarocchi, you know that. At least, there is no evidence it ever was, and there is plenty of evidence it was something else.

Quote:
totally other Trionfi elements as the frescoes in Palazzo Schifanoia),
Those frescoes are not triumph cards! What are you talking about here? The word "triumph" had and has a wide semantic range. The term "triumph" in terms of the card pack no doubt derives from one or some of the possible meanings of the term, but you can't just throw around references to everything under the sun that had some relationship with "triumphs" in the widest sense and think it proves something about triumph cards.

Quote:
we've the anology of a very creative German playing card culture in 15th century, but all this counts nothing, as all this is the exception, and the only rule is: There was a standard. That seems the character of this argumentation.
My feeling that there was a standard is inferred from the evidence, such as presented above. There was a generic term, and it is used without qualification in the vast majority of cases. The lack of qualification implies that something implicitly clear was being referred to. This clarity would only be possible in the case of a generic referent for the term, i.e. a "standard."

Quote:
Well, some standard was there, and it's called best "Matrix-decks". This is a repeating feature between more or less all 15th century decks (of course with a lot of variation) , with only one great exeption and that's the Tarot-form.
I will take it that by "matrix" you mean a form where all the suits have the same number. Thus tarot is an exception (you think that Michelino had 80 cards then? 5x16)

I don't see why it would have to be like this. Already Queens and extra Pages disturbed the number of picture cards. There seems no reason to think that the idea of a Trump suit (like Marziano or Tarot) would be constrained by the number of pips and court cards in a pack, since there is no example of a triumph pack that has this "matrix" structure.

Quote:
No. Let's keep to the documents. The documents don't give any information about an early "22". In the 50's of 15th century the game wasn't so much popularized, and we've no confirmation about the existence of really cheap Trionfi decks (and we've confirmation, that still in mid of 16th century Trionfi decks were considered as upper class cards - this must have been not the rule everwhere, of course).
I think there's ample indication that it was popularized. In addition to what I've mentioned, don't forget that Marcello also says that, because the first cards he received didn't seem good enough to present to Queen Isabelle, he actually went looking for "artisans of these things," to make him a better version. This suggests that there were, in fact, tarot card makers. Presumably there was demand, even if we didn't already know it from a year later (Francesco) and three years later (Sigismondo) (It seems to be from one of these artisans that he heard about Michelino's pack, and decides to go looking for it (that's my reading of it, anyway)).


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Well ... this is given without detailed argument for the moment at this place here. The idea, that this cards might be of Florence origin ... that's okay. These are cards, which went to France finally. Florence had good and early connections to France. That you seem to be secure about it ... nice, but why?
See my response to Robert earlier today on this thread. Also, I'm sure it was discussed on LTarot a few times. Maybe I still published on TarotL as well... but the original idea is here at Aeclectic, in the post I gave Robert, number 16.

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The name Christina Fionni is new ... what makes her argument so of importance?
("Cristina Fiorini" - in case you want to look up the name on the web) She finished a thesis under the direction of Ortalli, and won a prize for it. It developed Bellosi's theory that the Rothschild cards (in the Louvre) are from Florence and were painted by Giovanni dal Ponte. She studied the cards personally, and had help while in Paris from Thierry Depaulis. The most important thing they noticed (or the most convincing for me) was the Emperor's coin, which can only be the Florentine gold florin.

She published an article in The Playing Card, in Italian, in 2006, with a summary of her findings. Because of my interest in the subject and my independent view of the Florentine origin of the Charles VI (I also accept the Rothschild's being from Florence), Thierry insisted I write a response, which I did. Although supportive of some of her conclusions, I didn't agree with either the attribution to Giovanni, nor to very early dating she suggested (1420), based on that attribution (and other, vaguer, considerations).

Until later...

Happy New Year!

Ross
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Hi Huck,

I should also point out, that triumph cards were premade by artisans and sold "off the shelf" so to speak. This is proven by Francesco Sforza's letter to his treasurer Antonio Trecho which can be seen in facsimile, transcription and translation in Kaplan II, pp. 4-5. He says that as *soon* as he receives this letter, he is to find (trovare, "find", not "commission") and send the finest carte da trionfi or the finest playing cards he can. These cards were retail items, not custom made. Therefore the artist pre-made them, and had them ready to sell. Therefore, they were a commodity, and *must* have conformed to a pattern to be recognizable, usable, and valuable as what they were supposed to be. Therefore, there was a standard thing called "carte da trionfi".

This only confirms what Marcello said when he went looking for artisans of triumph cards, and what Sigismondo asked for. Just the best triumph cards around, not a unique commission.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Huck
... ???? ... Where? When? It's somehow said, that one cannot be sure about the content. The argument is about the structure of the deck, not the content of the motifs. A "14" is a "14", nothing else (as a 70 is a 70 btw.). An information about the motifs is not given.
You couldn't play the game if you didn't recognize the hierarchy of trumps. Nobody wants to memorize a new hierarchy every single time they play. People like to play games they know, and get good at them. We can't assume that it's *possible* that every time the Este records say "carte da trionfi" (about 30 times), they *could* have been referring each time to an entirely different series of images.

Of course 70 is 70. I said that I believed it, because it was "established in the mouth of two witnesses" - Campori and Franceschini. I believe that "70" is there. But because of the weight of the circumstantial evidence, that by 1457 there was a standard item called "carte da trionfi", and because it was so widespread, I have to believe it is an error on the part of the writer. If not, it is something like what Michael posits. But I can't believe that by this time, people (like young Galeazzo Maria Sforza) who are used to playing with the standard deck of his father, would accept to have a series of only 14 trumps.

Look at it this way too - let's presume the normal and popular game was what Trotti describes only a year before, in the same place - 4 players, 2 against 2. 4 divides into 14 only 3 times, which means that there is a good chance in every hand that one player won't get any trumps at all on a full deal. But 4 divides into 22, 5 times, which means that on average, with four players, every player should get some trumps, and even a player with only one or two can get help with his partner, who statistically should have a much better selection. So there is a practical reason for not having such a low number of trumps to begin with. The game is *about* trumps. Useless hands are no fun at all, and with 14 trumps between four people, you'd get a lot of them.


Quote:

The conditions between 1.1.1441 and 14 Bembo cards are NATURALLY very close, as both situations have the same focussed person, Bianca Maria Visconti. As nearly all documents, that we have, have "narrow conditions" as they usually relate to those few persons, which made the highest upper class of Italy.
NATURALLY one cannot exclude, that the 14 objects of 1.1.1441 were similar to those 14 trumps of Bembo. But how should somebody know that? By which document? There are a handful of words in the related document, you yourself found it.
Of course, thank you, I know (tell that to Giordano Berti - now it will enter Italian popular tarot history folklore (have you checked the Italian tarot blogs? (I haven't, but there are some), without all the credit due to me... boo hoo)

Those 14 "cards" would be very interesting to see... maybe they still exist - other trinkets, like the tarots, do. I don't know what they could be. I await learning about what to expect from that time and place in Ferrara. They weren't "carte da gioco", they were just images on card... maybe they were paintings of scenes, of people, larger than card size. You could speculate endlessly, and still get nowhere.

Quote:
It's interpreted, that it was a suggestion for a marriage deck (cause marriages were often
..."often"?

Quote:
connected to decks and Bianca was on her way to marry.) It's suggested, that it possibly was made for a marriage Bianca Maria - Leonello, which was one of the options in this time (1.1.1441). It was not suggested, that this deck was the Cary-Yale (which according autorbis' opinion had 16 trumps), also it was not suggested, that it was taken as a marriage deck for Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria, which would have been a little bit "without taste", I would say.

... :-) actually it might have caused, that Francesco Sforza got angry on Leonello, and nobody wished that.
There is no direct evidence that the CY was made for the wedding of 1441. The indirect evidence seems to be merely the Love card, and that that card has similarities to the wedding portrait (illustrated for example in Kaplan II 96 and in color at various places on the web). But why exactly the *wedding*? Why not just for them sometime after? This seems to be the position of Bandera, who, based on Bembo's chronology, puts it around 1443.

Ross
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I have created a new thread to discuss specifically the Visconti and Sforza Love cards (since we were going off-topic for the subject of the original thread the Number 21 and the Tarot Trumps)
http://tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=90878

The first four posts on that topic, by Huck, Rosanne and myself, will now be found there.

Ross

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I wrote,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
Around 1445, the Dominican Archbishop of Florence, Antonino, explicitly systematized this correspondence, actually giving the list of sins in alphabetical order (Thiers quotes it in French, my Latin equivalents are based on Antonino's disciple Gabriel Bareletta's):

"As many points as there are on a die, so many are the evils that proceed from them" (Quot in taxillis sunt puncta, tot scelera ex eo procedunt)".
His list was (reconstructed):

1. Amissio temporis (Wasting time)
2. Blasphemia (Blasphemy)
3. Convitium (Clamour, noisy and idle chatter)
4. Dissipatio (Squandering of money, goods)
5. Ecclesiastici contemptus (Contempt for the Church)
6. Furtum (theft)
7. Gula (gluttony)
8. Homicidium (murder)
9. Invidia (envy)
10. (K? - Thiers describes it as "The trouble they cause in their families which they leave to lack, of even necessary things, in order to have what they need for their game - I can't extract what the Latin keyword would be)
11. Laudatio falsa (false praise)
12. Mendax (lying)
13. Negligio (neglect of their duties to God and the Church)
14. Odium (hatred)
15. Participatio peccatis (participation in sins)
16. Querelae (quarrels)
17. Rapina or Roberia (robbery, plundering)
18. Scandalum (scandal)
19. Tormentum, Torpor (misery and torment (at losing money), despair)
20. Usura (usury)
21. Violatio (violation, profanation)

Antonino's method for aligning the sins alphabetically with the number of points on a die was followed by his student Gabriel Bareletta (c. 1410-1480).

"No sin is so abominable to God, as the sin of games, and there is almost no activity in which so many evils come together as from gaming: and just as God invented the 21 letters of the alphabet, but of different kinds which afterwards were put together to compose the Bible, where all wisdom is revealed, so the Devil invented a bible, dice of course, where he put 21 points like black letters, where, in his use of them, he found out the wickedness of all sin; and as many as are the points on a die, so many are the evils which proceed from it. The first letter is A, as it were the first point which is the first sin, i. Waste of time (Amissio temporis)..."

(Non est peccatum ita Deo abominabile, ut peccatum ludi, et vix est
dare actum in quo concurrant tot mala sicut ex ludo : et sicut Deus
invenit 21 literas alphabeti, aliae autem postea sunt superadditae
ad componendam Bibliam, ubi est omnis sapientia revelata, ita
Diabolus invenit bibliam scilicet dados, ubi posuit 21 puncta
tanquam literas nigras, ubi, in usu suo, reperitur omnis malitia
peccati, et quot sunt puncta in datis (sic) tot ab eo scelera
procedunt. Ideo videamus per ordinem peccata quae ab ipso procedunt.
Prima litera est A, quasi primus punctus quod est primum peccatum,
i. Amissio temporis... (Feria 2, 4 hebdomadis quadragesimae.
Venetiis, 1571, pet. in-8, p. 148, verso))

Gabriele Barletta's debt to Antonino is clear, as is the Dominican mnemonic preaching method used during this time. Furthermore, we can assume that many thousands of people heard this connection made.
I finally got ahold of the rest of Bareletta's alphabet (from Google Books), and my retro-translation of Antonino to Latin wasn't so bad - the main errors are actually because Antonino and Bareletta "broke the rules" so to speak, by using Greek letters! (K is for "caristia" (karistia), and X is for Xpianitatis/Christianity)

Here is Bareletta's alphabet, and it is clear he takes it straight from his teacher in the Dominican order, Antonino of Florence (my mistakes are bolded):

"The first letter is A, i.e. Amissio temporis (loss or waste of time);
second is B, i.e. Blasphemia (...);
3rd C, i.e. Contumelia, because they insult each other, saying "glutton", "stupid ass" (...);
4th D, i.e. Dissipation of physical needs/worldy substance (...);
5th E, i.e. Ecclesie contemptus (contempt for the Church) (...);
6th F, i.e. Furtum (theft) (...);
7th G, i.e. Gula (gluttony) (...);
8th H, i.e. Homicidium (murder) (...);
9th I, i.e. Invidia (envy) (...);
10th K, i.e. Caristia (dearth) of things that suppport the household.
11th L, i.e. Laudatio mala (bad praise), because the he praises himself for being a good player (...);
12th M, i.e. Mendacium (...);
13th N, i.e; Negligentia (...);
14th O, i.e. Odium (...);
15th P, i.e. Participatio sceleris (participation in wickedness) (...);
16th Q, i.e. Questio litigiosa (litigious complaining) (...);
17th R, i.e. Rapina;
18th S, i.e. Scandalum (...);
19th T, i.e. Tristicia (sadness) (...);
20th U, i.e. Usura (...);
21st X, i.e. Xpianitatis vituperatio (criticism of Christianity)."

http://books.google.fr/books?id=cA8J...&lr=#PPA425,M1

(From David Clement, "Bibliothèque curieuse historique et critique ou catalogue raisonné de livres dificiles à trouver" (Göttingen, 1751), vol. II, p. 425; Clement is describing the edition of Bareletta's sermons from 1515, "Sermones fratris Gabrielis Barelete sacrae paginae professoris divi ordinis fratrum Praedicatorum", sermon XXXIIII, Feria II quarte hebdomade quadragesime de ludis fortune, on folio LXXIX. b. col. 2., i.e. the same sermon as the 1571 edition Merlin quoted)

The (...) indicates omissions in Clement's text; I assume Bareletta has followed Antonino's fuller descriptions of the sins, which I have only in French translation.

Ross
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