Lucca Tarocchi

The given picture likely

These two pictures (both from the same source) were on the web, an older address stopped to worked, but I'd saved it. Thy likely belong to a catalog of an exhibition in Schaffhausen in 1988. Then only 1 complete Lucca Tarocchi existed (according Sylvia Mann), but already others incomplete with less trumps.



About 1990 Sylvia Mann reported about the Lucca Tarocchi ("All cards on the table", exhibition catalog in 1990/91):


In the 2000s I found an auction report:


The text declared: "Orfeo Tarot Pack (Tarot Lucchhese or Tarot di Lucca). Lucca, Italy, ca. 1730. 57/69 [?]. The total number of cards in a complete pack is unknown, as is the date of publication. Missing: 2 & 5 of Cups, 5 & 7 of Batons, 7 of Swords and all seven trumps IX to XV. Only two packs thought to be complete are known."

So the auctioneer declared, that there were two complete decks then. I've no confirmation for that.

The 6 pictures were given in a larger version:



Recently a discussion about the Lucca Tarocchi started ...
(last post at the page)
I describe the discussion ...
At this info was given ...

"10. An extraordinary type of Tarot pack, using Minchiate designs for many but not all of the cards, with 56 suit cards, the Matto and only twelve trumps (missing all those below the IX, including of course the Bagatto) appears to have been peculiar to Lucca. For what game was this used?
[March 2012: An incomplete Orfeo pack in Mr. Stuart Kaplan's collection, that was offered at auction in 2006 (auction catalogue, no. 128), yielded some of the missing trumps, namely: IIII-VI, VIII, XIII, XV, XXII, XXIIII-XXVIII, XXX, XXXIIII. Therefore, it is possible that all Orfeo packs were in fact regular Minchiate packs.]"

This was interpreted as evidence, that the Lucca-Tarocchi with 69 cards didn't exist, but that it just was just a Minchiate deck with with a loss of cards. I gave this comment.

"The problem "10" spoke about a 69-cards-Tarocchi-game ... the note of March 2012 includes cards, which belong to Minchiate and so not to Tarocchi and also not to the specific Lucca Tarocchi. So somehow both text belong to different fields, "10" to the Lucca Tarocchi and the other to a game with name Minchiate or Gallerini or Ganellini ...
The producer "Orfeo" (or the man behind this advertisement) might have produced just different decks."


Now I got the info, that two full 69 Lucca Tarocchi existed, not only one.

The opposite hypothesis must now be, that two full Minchiate decks (97 cards) lost the same 28 cards. The probability for such a curious accident is extremely low, I just state "less than 1 / 1.000.000", but it should be much less (I'm too lazy to calculate it ... maybe somebody else is interested).

For 21 trumps alone the same card combination of "13 of 21" cards should have a probability of c. "1 / 200.000" ... but for a Minchiate "13 of 41" the same combination should have again "less than 1 / 1.000.000" and again it should be in reality much less.

"The Lucca Tarocchi existed" ... with a very, very, very, very little insecurity in this statement. Naturally only, if indeed really two full 69-cards-Lucca-Tarocchi exist and nobody cheated to get the second (by reducing a 97-cards-Minchiate deck to 69 cards in younger time).

Maybe indeed just only a Minchiate deck production existed, and the 69-cards-accident appeared as a consequence of a game rule, which reduced the 97 cards to 69 ... as it might have happened comparable in the Stubai-valley, which played Tarock or "Troggn" in a version with 66 cards (in younger time at least they bought 78 card decks from Piatnik in Vienna and reduced it to 66 cards ... described at This naturally might have resulted in many remaining 66 card-decks, which had always the same 12 cards missing ... without any very mysterious accident. And something similar we can't exclude also in the case of the Lucca Tarocchi.


I have both Mann and Depaulis' books so I was puzzled until you brought up the mysterious second "complete" deck. Were any inquiries made before the auction about the second deck? I know Potter&Potter consult outside experts when identifying and producing their catalogues. In last summer's auction, they consulted signor Monzali of Milan for help with Italian decks.

As Pratesi pointed out, it is possible that players could have bought a full 97-card deck but used only a portion of it more often than the full deck. This is true in Hungary where locals here buy the 54-tarokk deck from Piatnik but use only 42 or even 40. If this was true in Lucca's case, then Lucca tarocchi exists and not-exists.


I don't know about this second mysterious Lucca Tarocchi deck, I just read the advertising.

My special focus on cards is 15th century, not so much later times. I guess, you've possibly the better material for the younger periods of card development.


Well, Sola-Busca Tarocchi .... recently there had been an exhibition in Italy and new opinions appeared. I take it here in the Lucca Tarocchi thread, cause there is - in my opinion - a relation between Lucca Tarocchi and Sola-Busca.

The connected authors of the catalog seem to have overlooked (I don't have the catalog) a specific feature of the Sola-Busca:

Figure 1 looks at figure 2
Figure 2 looks at figure 1
Figure 3 looks at figure 4
Figure 4 looks at figure 3

... with minor cases of doubt that's true. It looks, as if the figures are thought to appear in a book, where they communicate with each other from opposing pages.

A similar feature appears in the Boiardo Tarocchi poem, where the tercets 1-3-5-7-9-11-13-15-17-19 are dominated by men, and the opposing 2-4-6-8-10-12-14-16-18-20 are dominated by women. The ideas of the tercets seem to be 10 virtues and 10 vices, and the men have the vices and women the virtues.
1-2, 3-4 etc seem to have complementary virtues and vices, so the virtues and vices look as if they are intended to be complementary paired.

That's an interesting feature and it is especially interesting, that the authors of Sola-Busca and Boiardo poem seem to have had a similar idea, a humble form of mathematical idea, which operated with pairs. 1-2, 3-4 etc., that's simple and not very mysterious.


One of the authors of the catalog of the Sola Busca, Laura Paola Gnaccolini, suggested, that all 22 cards would refer to the 22 motifs of the normal standard Tarot.
Her results look (my humble opinion) partly hair-drawn, but I couldn't contradict, that a good part of the motifs of the Sola-Busca have a clear relation, some other a doubtful but possible, occasionally various motifs could be meant as one card ... a not so small part stayed "hair-drawn".
I had to fight through personal errors and wrong concepts, it wasn't easy.

This was a stage in the evaluations (the cell numbers belong to the Sola-Busca:




Well, that's, what is yellow, was more or less "somehow possible to identify", and that what is blue, more or less (with one exception "Chariot") belonging to the category "hair-drawn".

The Lucca Tarocchi has the following trumps:

not numbered Fool
9 Wheel
10 Chariot
11 Hermit
12 Hanging Man
13 Death
14 Devil
15 Tower
not numbered Star
not numbered Moon
not numbered Sun
not numbered World
not numbered Fame

Those motifs, which are clear or at least suspicious, belong (more or less) to the Lucca Tarocchi.

The motifs, which are not clear, belong more or less to the Sola Busca numbers 2-3 .. 6-7 .. 10-11 .. 14-15 .. 18-19. Again: these are number pairs as in the first very humble sort of pairing: 1-2, 3-4 etc.

The other group (common trumps) naturally are also pairs: 0-1 .. 4-5 .. 8-9 .. 12-13 .. 16-17 .. 20-21

Well, a solution with some contradictions. Why these contradictions?

1. The blue group has one exception: Chariot, the triumphator. Otherwise there are just 9 heroes. Well, Chariot, the triumphator, might be the exception, cause he is the winner of the fight.
Naturally the two groups of pairs have 10 (blue) and 12 (yellow) numbers or 5 and 6 pairs. The Lucca Tarocchi has 13 trumps (for unknown reason), so naturally one number of the blue group had to wander to the yellow group. This one is the Chariot.

2. The Wheel is missing and it belongs to the Lucca Tarocchi.


I Panfilio has the largest shield of all the warriors, and it is round like a wheel. This argumentation alone is rather "hair-drawn" and somehow Panfilio is a good Magician or Bagatello. But Wheel of Fortune is the lowest trump in the Lucca Tarocchi, and the Magician is the lowest trump in the common Tarot game and the lowest trump has an important function in the usual game. So somehow one might argue for a Panfilio, who was raised by Fortune (=Wheel) to a higher rank (Fortune = IX), right under the other raised card "Chariot" (Chariot = X), who got this position by the virtue of good fight.

3. The Falco problem ...


One cannot really argue, that the picture points to a specific Tarot card, neither one can argue, that the name Falco points to a specific Roman hero. Perhaps one can say, that "the guy is named "Falco" and sits in a manner, that one could call it "imitating a falcon".
In the Sforza Tarocchi motifs a devil doesn't appear, but the motif "Falconer" is known.


(that's a modern extended version, but I hope you recognize it)

The early Tarocchi devils had often bird's feet.


This were the most heavy points, where one could go wrong.

0 Matto is the 0 Fool (that should be clear)

1 Panfilio mutated to IX Fortune (in Lucca Tarocchi) ... explained above

4 Stars ...


... Stars appear in the upper left corner. A "stars" picture called Cristallina in the lot book of Lorenzo Spirito ..


... and variously stars of this kind in the Mantegna Tarocchi.


5. Father Time is unusual young, but has a specific time measuring tool ...





7 Chariot is explained above ...



8 Hanging Man: The child is hanging upside down ...



9 Falco, already explained above ... in the Lucca Tarocchi the devil


12 Moon, in the upper left corner ...



13 Death ... number 13 and the only dead body-part in the deck



16 Sun ... in the upper right corner



17 Angel ... the only man with wings



20 Tower ... the only man with a tower



21 World ...


The presentation of the star circle gives reason to think about it:

9 stars in the left upper quarter
9 stars in the right upper quarter
2 lines making the quarters
1 dragon
1 circle
22 ..... (cards ?)

As already shown we have two recognized groups, one with 13 and the other with 9 elements.
Generally we have usually in the game 3 selected special cards, the highest trump (World), the lowest trump (Panfilio - Wheel) and the Matto, in some cases there are 4 (with Angel).
If we assume, that in this case we have 4 special cards, we would have 9 heroes and 9 normal trumps.


Voila: Lucca Tarocchi game structure, somehow hidden in the Sola-Busca Tarocchi 1491.

I don't know, if you know about the so-called 5x14-theory. The theory assumes, that one of the major lines of the Tarot development took its route first to a 5x14-deck, using just a fifth suit with the same number of cards as trumps-sequence. As evidence is seen:

A note in Ferrara, that Bianca Maria Visconti got 14 pictures. The note doesn't state, that the 14v pictures were playing cards, but the first of January was generally dominated by gambling activities.

not dated:
Cary-Yale Tarocchi (this has 16 cards for each suit, and it is suggested, that it had 16 trumps; 5x16-deck with 80 cards

End of 1449:
A note of Iacopo Antonio Marcello, who regarded the curious Michelino deck (60 cards including 16 trumps from before 1425) a ludus triumporum, so giving indirectly the statement, that Trionfi cards not generally had the game structure 4x14 + 22.

Possibly 1452:
The Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo deck was made by artist (the second artist added or replaced 6 cards). If these were added (and not replaced), then the original deck should have had 5x14-structure.

July 1457 Ferrara:
A Ferrarese document speaks of 2 Trionfi decks, from which each had 70 cards. The number "70" is in accordance with the 5x14-theory (5x14 = 70).

Bologna 1477:
A contract about the production of a greater series of playing cards contains prices of decks. Card decks with trumps are calculated with 5/4 of the value for normal cards. If the prices are calculated according the number of cards, then the contract gives (likely) evidence to existence of 5x14-decks.

Master P.W c. 1500, Germany:
... made a German 5x14 deck, after he had contact to the Empress Bianca Maria Sforza.


Documents, which really give information to the structure of decks, are very rare. No document (either extant cards or written documents) confirms the normal Tarot structure 4x14+22 till the Boiardo Tarocchi poem, which should be the first, and the Sola-Busca should be the second. There are some good reasons to assume, that Boiardo made his poem "around January 1487".


Back to Lucca Tarocchi:

The structure of the Lucca Tarocchi "4x14+13" is very close to the "5x14"-structure. If the 5x14-theory is true, the game of the Lucca Tarocchi wouldn't be a surprise for 15th century, just a local variant of the 5x14-development with a humble change.

Lucca, once a successful city, was rather isolated later with some ressentiments against Florence and Tuscany, which was dangerous to the Lucca people. It might have been a state, which kept older traditions alive, for national pride.
Just around the time, when we assume the origin of the decks, which were called "Trionfi" (1440 or little earlier), Lucca had had a longer period of wars with Florence.
Florence took the battle of Anghiari (June 1440) as a great date of their history, just for reasons of political opposition Lucca might have had a date, which remembered their successful resistance against Florence short before.

So - my humble opinion - the question, if the Lucca Tarocchi got their 69-cards-decks by a game rule or by real production, is of minor importance. 1700, that seems to be a period, when the game already died in Lucca ... the earlier period looks more interesting.