Saturday, February 4, 2017

Jan. 5, 2017: 1501-1521: Cards from Perugia and nearby cities

Here is my translation of "1501-1521: Carte da Perugia e città vicine",, dated Jan. 5, 2017. (Franco originally put, "1510", but he tells me that he meant 1501.) Comments in brackets are mine, including my attempt to translate one passage in Latin, not a language I have studied. Page numbers on the top left correspond to Franco's pdf Italian version..The quoted comments by Depaulis (here translated into English) are in French in Franco's original; that by Teikemeier appeared originally as it does here, in English.

After Franco's note is a separate note by me commenting on Franco's note. I first discuss the difficulties that are incurred if one assumes that the Leinfelden (Franco's topic of section 1) or the 3rd Rosenwald sheet, either of them, constitutes one-fourth of a minchiate deck of 96 cards. Then I discuss whether from Notturno's play (which Franco addresses in section 3) an unusual order of triumphs can be inferred. To address this point I refer to Notturno's text via a rough translation into English.

1501-1521: Cards from Perugia and nearby cities

by Franco Pratesi


At various times I have had the opportunity to study documents of interest to the history of games of cards coming from Perugia or nearby locations. The last item I examined is the pack from Assisi preserved in the Crippa collection (1), but the findings that I could report from that same area, and the same time, the beginning the sixteenth century, are now fairly numerous, considering not only the pages of the printed book in Perugia in 1501-1502 associated with the Leinfelden sheet (2), but also the book printed in Perugia in 1521 with the publication of the comedy by Notturno Napolitano that itself had tarot cards as its subject (3).

Not having found now any other object or document, it seems opportune to try to connect better among them those I have so far studied independently of one another, adding a little new information and some comments. In the background are often also the three Rosenwald sheets (4); for those in fact no evidence has not been found for a provenance from the territory of Perugia, but they are very similar to two objects already mentioned, the Leinfelden sheet, which was glued to the pages of a book printed in Perugia, and the Crippa deck, discovered in Assisi. I will also consider Sansepolcro, where in fact the comedy recalled above was performed.

To make me decide to re-examine the studies related to Perugia and nearby towns, there was the fact that my previous notes have been recently translated and variously commented in the Tarot History Forum. Even more challenging, however, has been a private email (5), sent by Thierry Depaulis with more comments to my note on the Leinfelden sheet. His ideas, as at other times, and also in the rather remote
1. [translated at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1105&start=20#p18369]
2. [translated at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1105#p17007]
3. F. Pratesi, The Playing-Card, Vol. 17 No. 1 (1988) 23-33. [in English at]
5. Th. Depaulis, email 05.07.2016.

past, have been useful for the continuation of this research; relevant passages of that e-mail will be cited in French in the following, when recalling it is useful.

I am aware of the risk that closely connected objects and episodes actually could be quite independent of each other and that we are now linking them together only because they are the only witnesses we now know for those places and those times. As for the time period concerned, it may be considered in first approximation the twenty years 1501-1521, limiting it, that is, between the two extreme dates that are documented with safety in the findings involved.

As for the location, it should be noted that at that time distant cities could be closely connected by extensive commercial exchanges and solid military alliances, while cities very close could long remain in strong hostility and even open warfare. Thus Assisi, depending on the time, could remain independent from nearby Perugia but also be its ally or, conversely, a bitter enemy (to the extreme reached in 1442 when Perugia was willing to reward Niccolo Piccinino with fifteen thousand florins for its complete destruction). Sansepolcro in turn had entered the orbit of Florence, for which it was about to become a border fortress, and precisely in 1520 was recognized by Pope Leo X, Giovanni de' Medici, as a city and a bishopric.

1. Perugia 1501 - the Leinfelden sheet

The study of the Leinfelden sheet was carried out in parallel with that of the Rosenwald sheets. A common starting point for the discussion is the reversed appearance of the third Rosenwald sheet, alternatively interpreted either as an inversion in the process of photographing the object, or as an error in cutting the original mold. The experts are not unanimous in this regard, nor on the determination of which is the older sheet between that of Leinfelden and the third Rosenwald. I propose in this regard the views of Teikemeier and Depaulis, who know better than me this particular problem. [The first quote, on this page and continuing to th enext, is by Teikemeier, originally in English; Depaulis's follows.]
There is no remarkable difference with respect to the Washington sheet, if one takes into account that some sheets have been “printed the wrong way
around”, as already indicated by Dummett. (6) Different from the Rosenwald sheet in Washington, which has wrong Roman numbers (for instance IV instead of VI, IIX instead of XII), the Leinfelden sheet should have correct numbers (which can however be confirmed only in very vague way). If two different woodblocks are involved (and the difference is not due to mistakes in the presentation of the images), since the Leinfelden sheet has the right orientation of the numbers, it should have been the older sheet, made from the older block. (7)

[The next quotation is by Depaulis, originally in French]
The Leinfelden-Echterdingen sheet is in the "right" direction: not only do the Roman numerals read in the sense reviewed but the figures are turned left-right. It is necessarily derived from another block, etched in reverse, as it must be. It may be that the Washington sheet is a "misfire" that would be repaired by the Leinfelden sheet, engraved and printed afterwards. Or it may be that the Leinfelden sheet was copied afterwards, but backwards, by an idiotic engraver ...

This phenomenon is not isolated to Ferrara. The "Dick" or "Budapest" tarot cards also have a "backwards" copy (coll. S. Berardi, Bologna: cf. Berti, Marsilli, Vitali, Tarocchi, Faenza, n.d., p. 28; Dummett & McLeod 2004, Plate XXIa), where the figures for the Hermit (XI) and the Hanged Man (XII) are backwards. Other similar cases are encountered among the "ordinary" packs of the same style, such as the "Donson Pack" (Budapest "group 5"), where the numbers of the baton cards are also printed backwards. This strange fact remains to be explained.

Obviously, it should be ensured that the Leinfelden sheet is not the product of a smear, that is to say the transfer of the fresh ink of a sheet like the Rosenwald sheet, carried onto a virgin sheet. Given the state, this seems difficult to verify, but it remains a possible explanation.
For the Leinfelden, along with the sheet of playing cards I could also study the book pages that were glued together with it, which were found to belong to the first book of the Consiliorum by Pier Filippo Corneo printed in its first edition in Perugia by Francesco Cartolari in the years 1501-1502. Discussing the use of the definite date of the book to connect to the probable date of the playing cards I was given a certain level of uncertainty, which Depaulis would be inclined to reduce, in practice thus making the limits coincide precisely with the two dates.
The fact that the Leinfelden-Echterdingen sheet was with two other sheets, which turn out to be book pages, in two copies, is important. This assemblage of sheets (2 sheets of the Consiliorum, sive responsorum D. Petri Philippi Cornei + 1 sheet of cards) has all the appearance
 6. M. Dummett, The Game of Tarot, London 1980, p. 76.
7. L. Teikemeier, email 24.06.2016.

of being used as reinforcement for a binding (in folio). Even so, the printed pages have little traces of glue. Apparently, these two duplicate pages form the end of Consilium CCXXXVII and the beginning of Consilium CCXXXVIII (without the summary). The printed sheets have necessarily been cut: as they are clearly in folio format, each "folio" (or fascicle) should have 4 pages (or 2 sheets). Here, in both cases, we have only two pages, instead of four that follow each other. These are indeed printer defects, but recut (by the bookbinder?).

I agree with your conclusion, and I would even go so far as to accept the "extreme"! In other words, since these pages are taken from Book I of the Consiliorum, sive responsorum D. Petri Philippi Cornei patricii perusini, pontificii, caesareique iuris consultissimi, by Pier Filippo Corneo, in the printed edition of Perugia 1501-1502, it is logical to think that the sheet of cards was also produced in Perugia, at about the same time. That unexpectedly gives us a (small) range of dates!
I saw another possible association between the pages of the book and the sheet of playing cards, in the same workshop of the Cartolari family, parchment manufacturers become book dealers [librai, who typically both printed and sold books, Franco tells me]. I knew that more details were contained in an old book (8) that was the main source of the most recent studies that I knew, but did not find it in the Florentine libraries. In the aforementioned email, Depaulis showed me the link to read the book online, but on the possible trade of playing cards by Cartolari there is no trace. Depaulis’s conclusion is that one or more card makers must have existed in Perugie at the time, considering also that there had been in the past.
I do not think the sheet of cards is attributable to Francesco Cartolari (despite his name ...). Nor to his father. As you have understood, in Perugia a cartolaio or cartolaro is a ... parchment maker. Baldassare di Francesco cartolaio was a parchment maker, perhaps also a paper merchant; In fact, at the time of his request of business people in Perugia (Rossi, doc. No. 38), he said that "at present he exercises the art of making paper [carte] and leather goods". (Admittedly, it is tempting here to translate carte - in the plural - by the French "cards'" i.e. "playing cards", but I think it is too venturesome.)

See Adamo Rossi, L'arte tipografica in Perugia durante il secolo XV and the prima meta del XVI: nuove ricerche, Perugia, 1868, XII: FRANCESCO CARTOLARI 1500-1510, p. 42-60 and the numerous archive documents in appendices. You will find this book here: If the sheet of cards has some chance of coming from Perugia, it comes more certainly from a ... card maker.
8. A. Rossi, L’arte tipografica in Perugia durante il secolo 15. e la prima metà del 16.: nuove ricerche. Perugia 1868.
There were card makers in Perugia already in about 1485! In 1486, after Bernardino da Feltre had passed through, the municipal authorities decided to prohibit the production of cards and dice, demanding that all the instruments intended for their manufacture be handed over to them - "forme de fare carte et omni altro instrumento de Far li carti " [forms for making cards and any other instrument for making cards]. It is unknown whether there were several card makers, but there was at least one. And he was Jewish. (See Ariel Toaff, Gli Ebrei a Perugia, 1975, p. 81). Did this ban last? I do not know.
We will see later some other information for the period of our interest.

2. Assisi - deck of 48 cards in relation to minchiate

The pack of Assisi found recently is devoid of triumphal cards and thus can be compared especially with the first two Rosenwald sheets and can contribute little to the main question of triumphs, but that does not mean it's useless: even the fact that the cards of the four suits have interesting similarities with the corresponding ones of minchiate and that the deck comes from Assisi, are useful findings.

The fact that the deck was found while demolishing an ancient house gives us an indication of the place where it was used; but also the location of its production could not be far away. But one cannot conclude that the deck had been produced precisely in Assisi. Possible clues are found Florence based on similarity of a later period cards, but also with Bologna (especially the dog and the hare in the Ace of Coins, known from many products of Bolognese card makers). Another indication can be gained from the Ace of Coins: inside the center circle I had glimpsed a rampant lion and SteveM the griffon of Perugia. (9) Giving free rein to the imagination, one can even catch a glimpse of three of the four coats of arms present in the figures of kings and jacks, color aside, the emblem of the most important family of Perugia, the Baglioni.

Unfortunately, even the date of the pack is rather tentative and the same Giuliano Crippa reports that the Gothic arches that frame the figures of kings would favor even a fifteenth century dating, while the backs with the "moor" would suggest quite an advanced sixteenth century,
9. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1105&start=30#p18371

1510 or so, I have indicated in this respect, there appears to be no further evidence and should be considered, at least for now, as purely an indication.

What interests me most is the possible connection with minchiate. I would begin by examining the hypothesis, extremely unstable, that the cards of Assisi belonged really to a pack of minchiate. It is impossible in this case to support a random survival of all and only those cards, so we should consider the result of a deliberate reduction of the original deck, so as to practice the most common games. The hypothesis is not credible, but would be consistent with the way in which we are often accustomed (in playing Scopa, Briscola or Tressette) removing the 8, 9 and 10 from a standard deck of cards 52-54 instead of using a regional pattern of 40, the traditional but less and less widespread one; you can even find 40-card decks where the other 12-14 originally present have been removed forever.

Turning to more plausible reasoning, one must admit that the minchiate was not born as a complete novelty, using figures quite different from the traditional ones for the "normal" cards. This could happen in the following centuries and in other places, for example when minchiate became fashionable in France or Austria, where that type of cards was not known even to the cards of the four suits. In Florence, however they added other cards to the deck, but to those already present, so that between ordinary decks and those of minchiate, that there were strong similarities in the cards present in both is hardly surprising. (In the limit, the oldest decks of minchiate could offer us the oldest information also for common packs, in the case that only the most recent examples of the latter are preserved.)

The problem of the relation to Florence was also put to Thierry Depaulis, who advanced some comments also on this issue.
If we assume that the card sheet was produced in Perugia, this raises the question of the allocation of Rosenwald sheets to Florence, which has been held by several authors (Mandrovski 1972, Dummett 1980, Depaulis 1984, Hoffmann & Dietrich 1988). But I note that the catalog Ferrara 1987, No. 17, hesitates between Ferrara (for trumps) and Florence (for the rest) - which Dummett criticized, recalling that the order of the trumps is indeed type A. Dummett 1993, pp. 242-245 is less clear than Dummett 1980 and holds henceforth these sheets to be ... Bolognese! Dummett did not understand that the 3rd Rosenwald sheet was printed in reverse: he always thought it was due to the inversion of a photo "printed the wrong way round"!

That the Rosenwald sheets are of the Florentine type seems to me to be clear: the general style, the polylobed aureoles of the virtues so typical of Florence, the centauric cavaliers, the fantines [maids] of cups and coins. Yet I do not believe that any scraps of paper were brought from Florence to strengthen the binding of a book with sheets printed in Perugia. It must therefore be admitted that in Perugia there were also tarots of the Florentine type.

I note that in Perugia the term naibi was still used in 1462! It was therefore one of the last Italian cities, with Florence and Palermo, to use this old word. (Toaff, Gli Ebrei a Perugia, 1975, p. 81 reports that in 1462 a Jew was accused of holding a bisca [gambling den] in his house: " eius domo in qua habitat, retinuit ludum et passus est quod ludatur pluribus et pluribus vicibus tam ad ludum naiborum, qui dicitur la condempnata, quam etiam ad tabulas et taxillos" [ his house, where he lives, he kept the game several times and spread that playing more and more numerous times by turns so much at the game of Naib, which is declared condemned, as well as at tables and dice]) Florentine influence?
Let us limit ourselves for the moment to considering what we can derive about the Florentine decks not from Florence (because the oldest products of wood engraving in Florence are not known) but from Perugia and Assisi, It may be that the two types - say Assisi and minchiate - are derived from independent evolutions, with independent development in the Umbrian region, perhaps also involving neighboring regions toward the Adriatic, from Romagna to Marche. But perhaps the two types were instead connected and one preceded the other; then the problem that presents itself immediately would be to see if possibly from the type of the Assisi pack one could get to that of minchiate, or if a reconstruction in the opposite direction is preferable.

One point to which I have repeatedly called attention is the possible connection between decks of common cards and minchiate in the same production process, if we admit that the common deck of 48 cards had been, like the one in Assisi in fact, and that of minchiate, 96 instead of the 97 that were then fixed. (For the "missing card" you can easily think of the Fool, which is often considered to have been added at a later time.) So it would be enough to double the wooden molds for the production of the cards to switch from normal to minchiate.

One of the points of difference to be discussed is the presence in these packs of Assisi and Rosenwald of four centaurs instead of the two centaurs and two men-beasts of minchiate. Simply relying on logic, the solution is quickly found, because the traditional distinction of the four suits into two groups: round or long, female or male, today we would say red or black – is definitely older. On the other hand, we know that today the distinction between suits,

two strong and two weak, in bridge is derived from a kind of "revolution". from which the weakest suit, of spades, has inconsistently become the strongest. The four intermediate figures involved would be harmonized at a later time and the distinction in the deck of Assisi and Rosenwald sheets will only be kept for the pages and maids. The hypothesis is convincing for me, but sometimes it happens that applying our logic to developments that occurred in the distant past recreates situations that would have been really plausible, except ... that it did not happen.

There is also still another basic reason that makes me appreciate a hypothesis of this kind, on the link between naibi and minchiate: the daily habit of using dozens as the basis in trade of any product and in other very common cases. Then, with a dozen cards a suit is composed, with two dozen a wooden mold for the production of the cards is composed, with two molds is produced an ordinary deck, with four forms, that is with eight dozen cards, is produced a pack of minchiate. One could not reason better, in terms of dozens. In particular, that there was a mold used to manufacture only 10 is definitely confirmed by existing artifacts, but I do not think that form was often used.

3. Sansepolcro – Comedy by Notturno

The title of the book by Notturno Napolitano Gioco de trionfi che fanno quattro compagni ecc [Game of triumphs for four companions etc.] sounds very promising to our ears.(10) Unfortunately this title, reported at the middle of the eighteenth century in the Catalogo della libreria Capponi [Catalog of the Capponi library] (11), has long been the only information available about it, because none of the few authors who cited it had had the opportunity to see a single copy of this very rare book: even Zampieri in his comprehensive Catalogo delle edizioni [Catalog of editions], which indeed described 52 publications from Bianchino dal Leone [the book's publisher], concluded (p. 164) that "the only example reported by the British Catalogue (11715 n. 42) was untraceable". (12)
10. Notturno Napolitano, Gioco de trionfi che fanno quattro compagni detti Delio, Timbreo, Castalio, e Caballino, con due Sonetti in laude del Bembo. Perugia 1521.
11. Catalogo della libreria Capponi. Roma 1747.
12 A. Zampieri, La Bibliofilia, 78 (1976) 107-187.

When I received a microfilm copy of from the British Library I was very surprised by the fact that they seemed to consist of minchiate cards, several years before that special Florentine deck existed. Not also putting in doubt the reliability of the writers who had covered the topic of Florentine cards, I tried to find some other interpretation. Today I think that the comedy shows and comments on precisely a pack of minchiate; but it individually examined only a dozen particular cards, discussing the most reasonable hierarchical order, and then many of the next cards are presented only cumulatively. I reproduce part of what I wrote then, but using a recent version in Italian.
It seems that Emperor and Pope are the only two cards of their position; the corresponding "wives" are not mentioned anywhere. The Pope is said, and agreed after a brief discussion, to be higher. Speaking about the Fool, it is concluded that it is superior to any emperor, pope or cardinal. This may be a suggestion to a Cardinal card present in this deck, as indicated in other cases or shown directly in some ancient decks. However, it is possible that the phrase is here applied only to the social context, without direct reference to card symbols.

The following quartet of cards, played in order, consists of Fortitude, Temperance, Justice, and Chariot. Thus we find the three cardinal virtues together in a low position, i.e. without Justice promoted to a very high position connected to the final judgment, as occurred in Ferrarese triumphs, or Temperance shifted over Death, probably in order to keep the the latter figure at number 13, as happened in Milan. ...

The third quartet of cards then begins with Wheel and Old Man, but unfortunately the illustrations of the series here come to an end, more or less abruptly, immediately before considering the negative cards, like Death, Devil, and Tower; maybe those were considered unsuitable for the performance.

Whatever the reason, Notturno did not complete his description of the triumph pack, to which the title and preliminary introduction to the piece had been dedicated. Or, at least, not completed directly; ... It is well known that the zodiac signs are a significant and characteristic part of the Florentine tarot. It does not seem coincidence that their images are in a booklet that a nymph reads and explains during the performance, citing the number of stars in each constellation. Similarly, it does not appear owing to chance that in what follows in the play is inserted a description of the four elements and their importance to human nature. These elements - air, water, earth, fire - represent a specific group of minchiate cards. (13)
13. F. Pratesi, Giochi di carte nella repubblica fiorentina Ariccia 2016, pp. 421-422. [The English original, dated 09.05.1987, is at]

At the time, I observed that this order is different from the others, at least if we consider valid the order of the numbers that correspond to the relative power associated here with these cards. However, there is no reason to seek a presentation with the order most commonly known today by the Marseille tarot. The comparison must remain internal to the models of Dummett’s order A, with minchiate and the tarot of Bologna at the head; The following table lists the comparable parts of the triumphal series of interest. []
The two different orders of the Rosenwald sheets and the Notturno comedy correspond to very isolated cases, especially the latter. However, one can verify that both have more resemblance to the order of minchiate than to the Bolognese, if only for the lack of the Chariot in the position following Love, characteristic of Bolognese cards. The three cardinal virtues Justice, Fortitude and Temperance have a certain interest, in that in all these cases (unlike the Tarot of Marseilles) they are grouped together. The changes that are observed within the group do not appear to be associated with significant changes introduced to meet a different hierarchical order, followed in one place rather than another.

It would remain also to explain why, if he was already in the presence of the Florentine deck of 96 or 97 cards, he did not mention the cards of the four

suits. The explanation this time is easy and is shown explicitly by the author of the text when entitling the part of interest as Triompho dei tarocchi [Triumphs of the Tarot]: it should just be remembered that the name "tarocchi" [tarot] was originally reserved only for the triumphal cards, added to the pack of naibi.

4. Perugia 1521 – Bianchino dal Leone

Bianchino dal Leone, or del Lione, I had found only as the printer of the Notturno comedy, but we should also be be interested in him for other professions. The book cited by Aldo Rossi is not only useful for Cartolari; it also provides information on Bianchino, including the reproduction in the Appendices of interesting archival documents, of which some will be mentioned below. In the case of Bianchino, however, we can now also make use of a whole book dedicated to him by Andrea Capaccioni, who also has dedicated other works to publishing in Perugia; I can refer to this monograph those who want to know more details about the life and works of this craftsman of various activities. (14)

Already the name of this book dealer [libraio] has some curious aspects. To begin with, Bianchino was a nickname, because his real name was Cosimo Bernardo Varro (with the patronymic transformed by some authors into the name Bernardi) to which was usually added Veronese, in memory of his origin.

The addition of the appellation “dal Leone” was also in memory of something unusual: two real lion cubs that had been entrusted to him for safekeeping.
Towards the middle of February 1497 the town was given two lion cubs from the magnificent and generous condottiere of arms Giampaolo Baglioni; the Signoria solicits a few people to be entrusted with their custody, and the governor, believing Bianchino the man for this, gave him the job with a salary of 12 florins a year, and meals in the palace. The little house assigned for him to live, since he was married to the lady Pandolfina di Gaglietole and father of a growing progeny, had become cramped; the priors allowed him to build onto the rooms, and shortly afterwards granted it in the third generation. (15)
14. A. Capaccioni, Cosimo detto Bianchino dal Leone: un tipografo a Perugia nel Cinquecento. Perugia 1999.
15. A. Rossi, op. cit. pp. 61-62

At this point, his office of guardian of lions paid by the municipality remained until his death, and indeed, with the arrival of other lions, even passed to his heirs.
In 1532 he suddenly reappears as publisher and guardian of lions [The new lions were those of the Signoria in Florence, just then donated to Malatesta Baglioni, and by Monaldesca his widow to the city of Perugia]; and the annual payment orders for such custody begin to contain, in place of his name, that of 'children and heirs', in May of 1536. (16)
However, this unusual official task is not what interests us most. We have in fact made him as a printer, which appears to have been his second job.
From this house, coming in 1513, was seen hanging the sign of a lion, putting its right front leg armed with a sword above a mound of books. The guardian of the beast had become a typographer, and his printed volumes, including some in which certain literary curiosities take first place, on religious or erotic subjects, with said embossed at the lion. To the craft of printing books was mated another, of binding them, and because he sold well-painted cards, the art of the painters taxed him five soldi each semester. ... It is only around 1525 that the work fades until after 27 there is nothing. (17)
In those "painted cards" is seen yet another profession of our Bianchino, for us even more interesting than the others, that of the manufacturer of playing cards. That they were precisely playing cards one cannot deduce from here with certainty. In fact the same Capaccioni, who knows that environment better than most authors, hesitates about it in the aforementioned monograph (p.16), referring to one of his previous works in which he said that "they were probably playing cards or sheets used to beautify book bindings [legature] ... it may even have been colored 'figures', i.e. hand-painted woodcuts". He also adds (p. 18) that "He attended the fairs (surely at Foligno) during which not only books were bought, but also printed material, and he sold 'painted things'".

If those "painted things" had been sold during a great religious celebration at a church or a shrine, one would immediately think of some sort of holy cards that were even then produced in
16. A. Rossi, op. cit. p. 63.
17. A. Rossi, op. cit. p. 62

quantity, but at the fair in Foligno he plausibly sold his playing cards. That these really were the products is demonstrated from another source, reported to me by Depaulis in a comment recalled:
Again according to Toaff, but in his book Il vino e la carne: una comunità ebraica nel Medioevo [Wine and meat: a medieval Jewish community], Bologna, 1989, p. 108 and 259, in 1508 a Jewish tavern-keeper, Vitale di Mosè, formed a company for the manufacture of playing cards (fecerunt societatem simul ad artem cartarum ad ludendum) with a (Christian) card maker from Verona, Bianchino Bernardi. This could mean that there was not, at that time, card production in Perugia ...
Those references are contained in two similar but not identical notes. In both notes one and the same notorial act is talked about, in which a company to produce playing cards is started between Vitale, Jewish host of Perugia, and Cosimo Bernardi, craftsman from Verona. (18) From the second note it is understood furthermore that it would be the host of Perugia to gain for the occasion in Perugia the Verona craftsman, whereas for us he was already officially employed as a guardian of lions for a little over a decade. Probably we have extracted from the notarial act more than it contained.

With the new information of Bianchino as card maker, also his role in the episode seen earlier can be profoundly changed. When I studied the book with the comedy, I imagined that Notturno had been the real protagonist of the publication. Not finding locally an adequate solution for printing, Notturno turned to a printer of Perugia, and the occasion was created that the works of Bartolomeo Ugoni were printed along with it. The reconstruction presents itself in a linear and clear way. But a second reconstruction could see instead the same Bartholomew Ugoni as protagonist: it so happens that our Bianchino in fact, amazingly on the same day, November 22, 1521, printed a book that has become very rare as well, with that writer's poetic compositions (19).

Now we know that Bianchino also manufactured playing cards, and with this, his personal intervention in the matter becomes even more significant. It was not just any printer from Sansepolcro to whom one turned, one among many possible. Bianchino could become
18. Archivio di Stato di Perugia, Notarile, Benedetto di Mazzarello, 541, c. 140r.
19. Opere dil preclariss. poeta di lengua toscana meser Bartholomeo Vgoni dal Borgo. Chiamata Saturnia. Egloghe, Comedie, Tragedie, Canzoni, Sonetti. Stampata in Perogia [!]: per Cosomo da Verona: dicto il Bianchino dal Leone, 1521 a di XXII de Nouemb.

the true protagonist of the story: his professional interest in playing cards was such that printing that book could serve as an advertisement for his own production of those same cards. At the limit, instead of Notturno turning to Bianchino it could have been Bianchino himself asking Notturno to write a work [this meaning verified by Franco] that would prove advantageous for his business.

5. Conclusion

Different finds of testimonies of Umbrian origin useful for the history of card games have been presented together. Some information on particular cases has been added, like that of Bianchino dal Leone, who was professionally active as a playing card manufacturer, also as keeper of lions and printer of books. In comments on the cards in question, the possibility of a connection with Florentine production was taken into consideration, with the game of minchiate in particular. There remain a number of gaps and uncertainties; to obtain a fairer and more accurate view, other findings of cards and documents would be needed from the Perugia area, and also from Florence.

Franco Pratesi – 05.01.2017

Comments on Franco's "1502-1521: Cards from Perugia and nearby cities" 
by Michael S. Howard.

First, on the question of whether the woodblock for the 3rd Rosenwald sheet could be used as one of four blocks fora minchiate deck, there is the question of the 4th queen, as there is no room for her on the blocks as they now appear as long as the Empress remains with its Roman numeral III. If that III is something added after the printing from the block is done, then there is less of a problem, since a minchiate deck only has three crowned figures as "papi". This would have to apply to all the numbers, because minchiate numbers are necessarily (once one of the "papi" is made into a queen) all different from those we see in the Rosenwald except for number one and the unnumbered last five. That the numerals were not part of the woodblock has not been established, as far as I know.

Even if this problem can be resolved, there remains a problem, as the minchiate Queen of Batons, unlike the Rosenwald Empress, doesn't have a ball in her hand,  an important Imperial attribute. See e.g. ... 9&partId=1. This is surmountable. The player just learns to ignore the ball.

A similar issue is that of the papal attributes on two of the remaining Rosenwald "papi", which are not present in minchiate. See, besides the above link, compared to But perhaps in the early days of minchiate this issue wass not important. So again the problem is surmountable.

I also have concerns about the table that Franco drew up, specifically the column labeled "Notturno".Image 
Franco does not in this particular note actually mention the "Bagatella" at all, much less that it is number 4. Where did that come from? Likewise, although he did mention a "Cardinal", there is no Cardinal included in the table. Finally, there is the question of to what degree a deck with Matto as 3 and Bagatella as 4 can be inferred from the dialogue of the play. 

If Franco is basing this order on the order in which the cards are mentioned, the playwright may well have had other reasons for his order, of a rhetorical, didactic, or satirical nature. Andrea Vitali, discussing Notturno's imagined game of tarot, has given us exactly the same cards in the same order in his essay at (translated at, but comments:
Evidentemente si tratta di un ordine che fa comprendere come all’autore non interessasse la precisa aderenza al gioco, ma solo ed esclusivamente l’aspetto letterario, che volle libero da qualsivoglia costrizione.

(It is clearly an order that permits us to understand that the author was not interested in a precise adherance  to the game, but only and exclusively in the literary aspect, which he wanted free of every constraint.)
 In other words, Notturno was not telling us the ranking of the cards in the hierarchy as the game was in fact played, but aiming to write a lively an entertaining dialogue that departs from the actual hierarchy whenever it suits him.

To see if this is really a likely possibility, however, we do not have to take Vitali's word for it. We can look at the dialogue itself. Fortunately Franco in 2011 gave a transcription, in archaic Italian, of the relevant part of the play, at It is a follow-up to a much earlier note on Notturno (1988) at, in which he gives a paraphrase summary in Engliush. In that earlier essay he interprets the discussion as an explanation of why the order is the way it is. For example, he says "a discussion is provided as their exact order for winning tricks". That is not something Vitali would seem to agree with. So let us look at the dialogue

In the play--really an interlude in the middle of a longer unrelated play about shepherds and nymphs--four men decide to play a game of tarocchi. This is the first known printed occurrence of that word, incidentally. Here is my literal translation, some of which does not make complete sense in English. .For the dialogue up to this point, leading up to the actual game, I refer the reader to Franco's 1988 note linked to above. The characters are C for Caballino, K for Castalio, D for Delio, and T for Timbreo
T. Hor gioca. D. To limperatore è questo.
T. Limperatore. D. Sì. T. E questo è il Papa
Che tutto pote o andassela dil resto.
D. Come dil resto o vadigli la capa
E tutto il mio valor, che questo è mio.
T. O vedi come chi non sa sincapa
O dimmi il Papa non è in terra Dio.
D. Made sì. T. Donque hai persa la questione
Che un Deo vince un mortal, perho vinch’io.
D. Hor contender non vo, ti do ragione.
T. Mi la da la iustitia, come un tratto
Lo sai, e sanlo tutte este persone.

(T.. Now play. D. The Emperor is this one.
T. Emperor. D. Yes. T. And this is the Pope
That all power rests or goes from him.
D. How of him rest or go from him at the head
And all my valor, this is mine.
T. O see how those do not know without a head
Or tell me the Pope is not God on earth.
D. Yes indeed. T. Then you have lost the question
One God wins over one mortal, So I win.
D. Now I do not want to contend, I agree with you.
T. To me that is justice, as at once
You know it, and so know all these people.)
Here the Pope is higher than the Emperor, illustrating the moral, perhaps sarcastically intended, that the Pope is God on earth, and a God is higher than a mortal. Let us continue:
[T.] Ioca tu. K. To [or Io?]. T. che cosa è questa. C. Il matto
Che Imperatori Papi e Cardinali
Vince e domina sol con un sciocco atto.
T. Donque voi por gli Dei con gli animali.
K. Made no, ma gli matti hora son Dei
Et son qua giuso, in tutto principali.
T. O veggio ben che for di senso sei.
K. For di senso se tu che in sin gli morti
Sanlo onde dici quel che dir non dei.
Non vedi tu per tutto e più in le corti
Che senza questi principi e signori
Vivon, senza contento, scemimorti.
Non sai tu che se alcun gratie e favori
Vol, forza è andar di questi per le mani
Che a tutti gli altri son superiori
E quanto più son temerarii e insani
Tanto en più grandi, hor non più sei risciolto
Confessa come perditor rimani.
T. Tu dici il ver, donque anch’io far vo il stolto
Per farmi grande e haver propitia stella.

(T. Play, you. K. Me?. T. What is this? C. The Fool
That Emperors, Popes and Cardinals
Vanquishes and dominates only by a silly act.
T. Then you put gods with animals.
K. No indeed, but the gods are now mad
And are down here, in all the princes.
T. O I see full well the sense in that.
K. For the sense that if you until dead
Know that whence you say what the gods not to say.
Do not you see all and more in the courts
That without these princes and lords
They live, not happy, half dead.
Do not you know that if any graces and favors
You want, perforce is to go through the hands of these
That to all the others are superior
And how much more I am foolhardy and insane
Much greater are they, now no more be dangerous
Confess as one destroyed.
T. You say the truth, Then I too go to make the fool
To make me bigger and have a propitious star)
This says that Fools vanquish Popes, Cardinals, and Emperors with their silly act, and that they are bigger fools than we, the players, are. Even the gods are mad.. T seems to be playing the Fool card at the end of this passage, but whether it actually wins the trick is not said. The whole passage seems mostly an exercise in rhetoric, against princes. It is not at all clear that the Fool actually beats the Emperor and Pope, because they are Fools, too.

We see here the mention of Cardinals, but not explicitly as a card in the game. But it is not unprecedented as the name of a card either. The c. 1565 Anonymous Discourse (in Eplaining the Tarot, by Caldwell, Depaulis, and Ponzi), from somewhere in the middle of Italy,  mentions a Cardinal card along with those of the Pope and the Emperor, no doubt a substitute for the Popess as one of "four papi". 

 I continue:
K. Hor non più Caballin, volgi in qua il volto
E mira un poco questa, come è bella.
C. Che cosa è questa. Per tua fede è il vechio
K. Nol vedi tu. Rispondi si da quella.
 C. To. Mi dispiace ben chio la sparechio
Il bagatella è questo, dar til voglio.
K. Glie mia, chl matto è de tutti altri spechio.
C. Di te mi meraviglio, anci mi doglio
Che nosco in gioco poniti a la zuffa
Senza intender il scritto di sto foglio.
Chi ben atteggia civetta e camuffa
Astutamente, senza far il stolto
Quel resta vincitor di la baruffa.
Non bisogna sciocchezza saper molto
Non bisogna ignorantia ma virtute
Volendo haver nel fin, qualche honor colto.
K. Tu dici il ver, tengo le labia mute
E gliè tua tottalmente Caballino
Che hia le virtuti in te tutte compiute.
C. Hor piglia e qui farai da paladino
Se vinci questa, che lè la fortezza
Che doma ogni mortal e ogni divino
Questa quella è che tutto stringe e spezza
E il bagatella non pur, ma anchor vinta
Spesso è ragion, da sua tanta fierezza.

(K. Now no more, Caballin, turn here the face
And look a little at this, how beautiful it is.
C. What is this. By your faith it is the old one.
K. Not him you see. Reply about that one.
C. I indeed regret making unready
The Bagatella is this one, I want to give it to you.
K. It is mine, the Matto, of all the others I look at..
C. Of you I marvel, thus I grieve
That with us in the game you put yourself in the battle
Without comprehending the writing on the sheet.
Who poses as well owl and craftiness
Cleverly, without acting the fool
One who remains the victor of the scuffle.
Do not know much nonsense
Do not need ignorance but excellence
Wanting to have in craft, gathered some honor.
K. You tell the truth, I keep my lips mute
And yours totally Secret
That you have the excellences [virtutes] in you all complete.
C. Now you seize and here you make the paladin
If you win this, you lè the fortress [fortezza, also = fortitude]
Taming every mortal and every divine
This one is that everything shakes and breaks
And not surely the Bagatella but again vanquished
It is often with good reason, from his great fierceness.)
All I get from this is that the Bagatella is clever, crafty and does things in secret, not acting the fool by telling the truth. But such craftiness is defeated by the virtues, of which fortitude is mentioned in particular, vanquishing the Bagatella with his fierceness. But in the old troubadour songs, it was always the ministrel or poet who charmed his master's wife but had to fear his wrath if discovered. This is a joke in the same tradition. In addition, t is not clear here whether the Bagatella actually beats the Fool or just thinks he does.

I continue:
D. Hor non più to questa è una Dea dipinta
Chio ti rispondo, detta temperanza
Che al mondo è diva, se ben quivi è finta.
T. E tu to questa che tutte altre avanza
Chè la iustitia, senza di la quale
Mancha ogni iusta e natual usanza.
D. Ben la iustitia adesso nulla vale
Anci non vi si noma né si trova
Chel suo corso è mancato qual mortale.
T. Mancato, cosa inaudita e nova
Io sento, che iustitia mai non manca
Perché è diva, anci ogn’hora più rinova
Si che perduta lhai, questa è mia franca.
D. Tu dici il ver. K. Hor to questa Timbreo
Che è il carro, in ch ogni gloria si rinfranca.
T. Che val il car. C. Come d’ogni tropheo
D’ogni triompho ogni fausto e ogni pompa
Ne questo il seggio è de ogni semideo
Non vè cosa qua giù, che non corrompa
Se non questo, che ogn’hor più triomphando
Sen va, senza che alcuno lo interrompa.
T. Parmi che questo vada sol rotando
Colmo di fieno paglia pietre e legni
Come istromento vile e miserando.

(D. Now no more to this is a painted Goddess
Chio answer thee, that temperance
Which in the world is heavenly, if there it is indeed feigned.
T. And you to this that all others advance
is justicia, without which
each just and native custom is lacking.
D. Justice indeed is now worth nothing
Thus it is neither named nor is found
that its course is lacking in what is mortal.
T. Failure, unheard and new
I feel that justice is never lacking
Because it is a goddess, thus every hour more renews
You have lost that, this is my release.
Q. You say the truth. K. Now to this Thymbraeus
Which is the chariot, in which all glory is reviving.
T. What value the car. C. As of every Trophy
Of every Triumph every auspice and every pomp
This is the seat of every demigod
THERE'S something down here, that does not corrupt
If not this, it every hour more triumphing
By itself it goes, unless someone stops it.
T. It seems to me that this goes only turning
Full of straw hay stones and dead wood
How vile and miserable an instrument.)
Well, we have Temperance, then Justice, then the Chariot. Perhaps from this we can derive an order, I don't know. Nothing is said about whether the Chariot beats the virtues, but it is likely that it does..

I conclude:
K. Anci i Dei tutti, de celesti regni
Iove, Saturno, Apol, Mercurio e Marte
Con questo adempion tutti i lor dissegni.
T. Sia maledetto il mio giocar de carte
Che mai tener non ne poti pur una.
K. Cusì advien chi entra in bal senza haver larte.
Hor to questa è la Rota di fortuna
Che non pur move regge e doma il mondo
Ma tutti gli pianeti e sol e luna.
C. O che tu fingi o che sei cusì tondo
A voler por una con quattro rote
Et adeguar il cielo col proffondo.
K. O che parole d’intelletto vote
A metter di fortuna lalta insegna
Con queste cose vil basse e idiote
Non vè cosa ima mediocre o degna
Che cotesta non cangi a suo diletto
E che in un punto non accenda e spegna.
Donque confessa il suo fallo e diffetto
Come nulla non intende e vol iocare.
C. Hor su non più gliè tua questo è lo effetto
Timbreo in fin gliè sua, non contrastare.
Ma per chiarirvi tutti il vechio è quivi
Che non sapendo faravi imparare.
D. Il vechio non è in numer de gli vivi
Anci è cosa insensata e scemimorta.
C. Scemimorta anci è in numer de gli divi
Deh dimmi ovedi tu persona accorta
Che gioven sia se non è carca de anni
Che ogni excellentia il tempo seco porta.
K. Caballin, per mia fé tu ci usi inganni.
C. Come inganni non sai chel tempo è quello
Chel tutto vince e dona gaudio e affanni
Sì che non contrastar, chel non è bello
Conoscendo haver perso, che ogni modo
Se perdi, non gli va se non lo anello.

(K. Indeed all the gods, of heavenly realms
Jove, Saturn, Apollo, Mercury and Mars
With this fulfillment of all their designs.
T. Cursed is my playing of the cards
Than ever to take not even a prune.
K. Such comes to one who enters bal does not have the art.
Now this is the Wheel of fortune
That not only holds up and moves, and tames the world
But all the planets and sun and moon.
C. Either that or you pretend that you're thus round
To want for one with four wheels
And equal the sky with vastness.
K. Or that empty words of intellect
Putting of fortune a high banner
With these things vile, low and idiotic
You do not see things low, mediocre or worthy
That this same does not change to his desire
And in a moment ignites and is extinguished.
Then confess your fault and defect
As you know nothing and want to play the game.
C. Now it is no more yours this and the effect
Timbreo, in short [or until] it is yours, no conflict.
But to clarify all, the old man is there
Not knowing, to make you learn.
D. The old man is not numbered among the living
Rather is a thing without sense and half dead.
C. Half dead thus is numbered of the gods
I pray you tell me whereby one young
Is experienced if not laden with years
Time opens the door to every excellence.
K. Caballin, by my faith you use us deceived.
C. As deceived you do not know what time is,
That conquers all and gives joy and sorrow
That not opposing, that is not beautiful
Knowing to have lost, so that every way
If you lose, it does not go out except the ring [wheel?].
This is fairly obscure. One might have thought that Jupter, Saturn, the Sun (Apollo), Mercury, Mars,  were cards, if one did not know better. And not only that, but they, along with the Moon and the World, were below Fortune, since they are "tamed" by her. However the virtues followed by Chariot followed by Fortune followed by the Old Man, i.e. Time, is in fact an order shared by a few of the early lists, namely, minchiate, the strambotto found by Depaulis (, a tarocchi appropriati found recently by Andrea Vitali,, probably the Charles VI and Colonna (which Franco doesn't list), and perhaps the Rosenwald, if Dummett's speculation rather than Franco's is followed (it actually isn't clear where the Wheel goes, since that part of the card is undecipherable). All of the last three, as viewed by Dummett, plus minchiate are at

We also have to ask, where is the Love card. Is it really above the Old Man, which is where the passage abruptly stops? I think it more likely that for some reason it has been omitted, either because Notturno forgot about it or because the jokes were too improper to be printed.

I conclude that Andrea's view is correct that we cannot see this play as reflecting a precise if very peculiar order of triumphs dissimilar to all others. Yet at the same time some order is suggested, most likely a standard Florentine one, more or less. We cannot say definitely which virtue was lowest; even though Fortitude is listed first, because that might have been for a joke about how craftiness when discovered or presumed is crushed by force, deriving from a standard troubadour motif of the minstrel's fear that his affair with the Lord's wife will be discovered. Likewise we cannot conclude that the Fool was 3rd or that the Bagatella was 4th. These placements fit the satirical points being made, and Notturno is in fact vague about what card actually wins the trick. There just isn't enough warrant in the poem to justify a radical reordering of the triumphs beyond all precedent.

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