New Pratesi note on Cary-Yale


More Pratesi on tarot origins

Recently Franco has gotten back into the question of the origin of the tarot.

The place to start is his excellent summary of the state of current research, posted by him in Italian Oct. 4, 2016, as "Primi trionfi, proposte contrastanti e prospettive"
(, translated by me as "Earliest triumphs: contrasting proposals and outlooks", This rather long note is commendable for its lack of bias toward any one theory, instead merely exploring alternative hypotheses.

He also has now examined all of the court records, at least those in the main registry, called the "book of the lily", of people sentenced for card playing in the period 1401-1450 in Florence. His final search, of the period 1425-1440 is in English at This particular search came up with nothing about triumphs, but in his view that doesn't show anything. All told, for the entire period 1401-1450, he only came up with 2 people sentenced for playing triumphs, probably in the same incident, in 1444.

Also of interest for clues to the as yet unknown origins of the tarot, I think, is his recent research on birth trays, marriage chests, manuscripts of Petrarch's poem I trionfi, and civic processions, for the period ending around 1450 but going back, sometimes speculatively, to the beginning of the century, and mainly focusing on Florence.

I have established a blog with all my translations of Pratesi's notes that otherwise would be in Italian only--around 25 of them so far--including in the same blog entry my comments on his notes, and links to discussions by others. Most are of recent work, although the earliest go back a couple of years. Along with a short introduction by me, they are at, so far in order of his posting them in Italian.

This general area is wide open for researchers of amateur status, including those with facility in languages other than English. For me, I know, Franco's notes have opened up whole new areas for investigation that I had not been aware of before. If anyone has something to say on the topics that Franco has been covering, this is as good a place as any to communicate it. I will be checking this thread periodically. If I miss seeing a post, don't hesitate to send me a pm. And if you are not comfortable posting, send me a pm, too, even if it is not in English, I am getting pretty good deciphering Google Translate, at least in the Latin and Germanic based languages, and I have friends who know the Slavic langauges.