Thursday, June 13, 2024


 Last modified June 13, 2024

Franco Pratesi has an impressive list of publications on the history of the tarot and playing cards generally that goes back to 1986, both in print publications and on various websites, including his own at However, many of the most important, especially in the last ten years or so, are in Italian only. In an effort to make his research more widely available, I have been translating selected essays and notes into English, essentially using Google Translate and then correcting it by my understanding of Italian grammar and reference to online dictionaries for the word that fits the context best. Even then, I have routinely been going to Franco himself for advice on certain passages, especially in translating old documents, the proportion of which increased dramatically in 2023 and after. I have tried to make the English conform as closely as possible to the original Italian, sometimes resulting in awkward transitions in English but which in the development of ideas follow the Italian.

In each translation, there are occasionally comments in square brackets for the sake of clarification. These are by me unless indicated otherwise (as Franco himself sometimes uses brackets for comments). The numbers by themselves on the left margins are page numbers in Franco's pdf, for those who would like to consult the Italian original or quote it. For safety's sake, any quotations by others of my translations should probably include the original Italian, since I do not guarantee the accuracy of my admittedly amateur work (or the combination of two amateurs).

At the right of this introduction on the web-page is a list of years and then months. These are mostly when I posted a particular essay. The essays themselves, with only a few exceptions, are arranged in the order in which Franco published them, on the internet or elsewhere, going down from later to earlier. So for essays dated earlier than those in a given month (when I posted the translation), it is necessary to click on an earlier month, until the desired note is found - or else use the link in this introduction.

The main exception to the rule of listing them chronologically in order of publication is a series of articles by Franco mostly about 18th century books on how to play minchiate, the game with the expanded tarot deck of 97 cards. When I resumed translating his work in 2023 (after a pause in his research in 2017), I didn't notice them and didn't leave space for them in the series. So they are all together, earliest at the bottom, in my postings of June of 2024. The one not on how to play minchiate is about an unusual combination of atlas and minchiate deck.

I have written introductions to each translation, in most cases rather short. In some of the blog-posts, after the translation and in the same post, I have put my own reflections on Franco's note or thoughts relating to the same theme. Both the translation and my comments originally appeared on Tarot History Forum, in some cases with small revisions. 

The essays tend to fall into natural groups. For the most part, I have resisted the temptation to put these groups together in the blog, instead arranging them in order of publication, similar to Franco's own site at but by topic rather than where it was first published. This is to make it easier for those interested in particular topics. Within the topic, they are arranged in order of publication, usually the latest one first (but occasionally the reverse). 

To get to the translation, click on the link after the title in English. You will notice that the link title sometimes suggests something other than the essay in question. That is because, forgetting how google blogs work, I had to occasionally move essays around to keep them in order, and Google doesn't change the link to fit the new title. 

  • Historical (18th century) books or booklets on how to play Minchiate (7 entries).
  "Fourteen minchiate cards of the 1700s" (Aug. 18, 2023), at Original at 7/10. Quattordici minchiate del Settecento (20.08.2023). This is a discussion of fourteen cards that came with the book discussed in the entry immediately below.
 "General Rules on the Game of Minchiate" (The Playing-Card 52:2, Oct.-Dec. 2023), at The original, Regole Generali sopra il Gioco delle Minchiate," is at The same essay not in journal format is at, posted Aug. 10, 2023.

 "1747 book on minchiate and other games (The Playing-Card 49:2 (Oct.-Dec. 2020)), at Originally "Libro del 1747 sulle minchiate, e altri giochi," at
"The Regoli Generali in Florence" (The Playing-Card 49:1 (July-Sept. 2020)), at The original, "Minchiate, le Regole Generali di Firenze," is at
 "Minchiate, the General Rules of Rome and Macerata" (The Playing-Card 48:3 (Jan.-March 2020)), at The original is "Minchiate, Le Regole Generali di Roma e Macerata," at
 "Comments on the Regole delle Minchiatta" (The Playing-Card 47:3 (Jan.-March 2019)), at The original, 
"Commenti sul Regole delle Minchiatta,"is at
 "The Capitolo delle Minchiate (Chapter on Minchiate," The Playing-Card 47:2 (Oct.-Dec. 2018), at The original, "Il Capitolo delle Minchiate," is on at
  • Information from inventory and other account records in Tuscany (9 entries)

 "Florence 1736-1737. Accounts in the shop of the abbot" (April 2, 2024) at The original, "Firenze 1736-1737. Conti della bottega dell’abate," is at

"Florence 1478 and 1479: Petrarch's triumphs in private homes" (March 16, 2024, with May 3 addendum), at The original, "Firenze 1478 e 1479: Trionfi del Petrarca in case private," is at
 "Naibi for sale and worn-out naibi" (March 13, 2024), at The original is "Firenze 1420 e 1424. Naibi in vendita e naibi triste," at

 "Florence 1472-1474. Worn-out naibi and triumphs in a bag" (Feb. 23, 2024), at Franco's original at 8/07. Firenze 1472-1474. Naibi tristi e trionfi in un sacchetto (23.02.2024).

"Pontormo 1479. Playing cards in a haberdasher's house" (Feb. 22, 2024), at Original at 8/06. Pontormo 1479. Carte da gioco nella casa di un merciaio (22.02.2024).

"Florence 1426. Naibi in a large family" (Feb. 12, 2024), at Original is at 8/05. Firenze 1426. Naibi in una grande famiglia (12.02.2024).

"Florence 1462: Playing Cards in a dry goods Store" (Dec. 2, 2023), Original at "Firenze 1462: carte da gioco in una merceria" (02.12.2023)  

"Florence - Three account books of the 1400s" (October 18, 2023), at Original at Firenze – Tre libri di conti del Quattrocento (18.10.2023).

"1499-1506: New information on Florentine cards" (April, 2015)  (1499-1506: Firenze - Nuove informazioni sulle carte fiorentine. The Playing-Card, Vol. 44, No. 1 (2015) 61-71)

  • Information from the taxation system in Tuscany (6 entries)

"Florence 1743-1778: Licenses for games" (Jan. 20, 2024),, Franco's original is at Firenze 1743-1778. Le licenze sui giochi (20.01.2024)).

"Florence 1843-1845. Foreign cards and bureaucracy" (Jan. 2, 2024) Original at Firenze 1843-1845. Carte forestiere e burocrazia (02.01.2024).

"Florence 1814: Restoration, also for playing cards" (Jan. 2, 2024), Original at Firenze 1814: Restaurazione, anche per le carte da gioco (02.01.2024).

"Florence 1766 - Domenico Aldini under investigation (November 21, 2023), at Franco's original is at Firenze 1766 - Domenico Aldini sotto inchiesta (21.11.2023) .

"Reform of the stamp duty on cards (October 31, 2023), at Franco's original is at Firenze 1781: riforma del bollo sulle carte (31.10.2023).

"Cortona 1767-1781 - Playing Cards in Customs" (October 25, 2023), at Franco's original is at at Cortona 1767-1781 – Carte da gioco in Dogana (25.10.2023). 

  • Information from academies, literati, entertainers, poets, educators (9 entries)

"Florence 1783. The mystery of the Devil" (April 20, 2024) at Originally "Firenze 1783 ‒ Il giallo del Diavolo," at
"Minchiate, a field too vast for the Academy" (April 13, 2024), at Originally "Minchiate, un campo troppo vasto per l’Accademia,"
"Playing cards defended in academy and church" (April 4, 2024), at, originally "Carte da gioco difese in accademia e in chiesa," at

 "Florence ca. 1720. Minchiate and knights without cavalry" (March 27, 2024), at, originally "Firenze circa 1720. Minchiate e cavalieri senza cavalleria,"

"1700s in Florence: Conversations in the Casino of St. Trinita" (Dec. 2, 2023), Original at Settecento a Firenze: Conversazione del Casino di Santa Trinita (02.12.2023

"Games played with tarocchi in the 1600s" (Oct. 16, 2023) at Franco's original in Italian is at Giuochi che si fanno con le carte ‒ nel Seicento (16.10.2023) .

 "More Lombard editions from Court de Gébelin" (Aug. 3, 2023), Franco's original in Italian is at Più edizioni lombarde da Court de Gébelin (03.08.2023).

"Ideas of an Egyptian - Cremona 1795" (July 5, 2023), Franco's original in Italian is at Idee di un egiziano. Cremona 1795 (05.07.2023)

 "Pocket atlas and minchiate from 1780" (The Playing-Card 47:4 (April-June 2019)), at The original, "Atlante tascabile e minchiate del 1780," is at

  • Information from laws and criminal records in Tuscany (6 entries)

"1426-1440 Florence: Convictions for card games in the Books of the Lily" (Nov. 26, 2016) (1426-1440: Firenze - Condanne per giochi di carte nei Libri del Giglio. (26.11.2016))

 "1377: Florence: sentenced as players of naibi" (Jan-March 2016) (1377: Firenze - Condanne ai giocatori di naibi." The Playing-Card , Vol. 44, No. 3 (2016), 156-163.)  

"1514: Florence: Law on games" (synopsis) (Nov. 21, 2015) (11514: Firenze - Legge sui giochi. (21.11.2015))

"1450, 1473, 1477: Florence: Laws on games" (Nov. 7, 2015) (1450, 1473, 1477: Firenze - Leggi sui giochi. (07.11.2015)

"1451: Siena - New law on games" (Oct. 31, 2015) (1451: Siena - Nuova legge sui giochi. (31.10.2015))

 "1440-1450: Florence - Convictions for card games in the Books of the Lily" (Oct. 12, 2015) (1440-1450: Firenze - Condanne per giochi di carte nei Libri del Giglio. (12.10.2015))

  • Playing card documentation outside Tuscany (7 entries) 

"Cards and Tarocchi at the end of the 1700s in Sardinia" (Sept. 17, 2023), at Originally "Carte e tarocchi alla fine del Settecento in Sardegna," at

"Brescia 1786 - almanac on the tarot" (Aug. 20, 2023), at Franco's original is at Brescia 1786 – Almanacco sul tarocco (20.08.2023).

"Cards and Tarocchi in Sassari, beginning of the 19th century" (Aug. 2, 2023), at Originally "Carte e tarocchi a Sassari all’inizio dell’Ottocento," at
 "1501-1521: cards from Perugia and nearby cities" (Jan. 5, 2017) (1501-1521: Carte da Perugia e città vicine. (05.01.2017))

"The 3rd Rosenwald Sheet" (June 27, 2016) (Il terzo foglio Rosenwald. (27.06.2016))

"Assisi c. 1510: Complete deck of 48 cards" (Dec. 22, 2016) (1510 ca: Assisi - Mazzo completo di 48 carte. (21.12.2016))

 "1477 Bologna: Arithmetic for cards and triumphs" (June 9, 2014) (Carte da gioco a Firenze: il primo secolo (1377-1477). The Playing-Card , 19 No. 1 (1990) 7-17.))

  • Triumphs and the minor arts (5 entries)

"ca 1450: Triumphs and birthtrays," (May 13, 2016) (1450ca: Firenze - Trionfi e deschi da parto. (13.05.2016))

"ca 1450: Triumphs and marriage chests," (Aug. 31, 2016) (1450ca: Firenze - Trionfi e cassoni nuziali. (31.08.2016)) 

"ca 1450: Triumphs and Civic Processions" (Oct. 11, 2016) (1450ca: Firenze - Trionfi e cortei cittadini. (10.11.2016))

 "ca 1450: Triumphs and Triumphi" [i.e. in illuminated manuscripts], (Oct. 15, 2016) (1450ca: Trionfi e Triumphi. (15.10.2016))

"Siena 1438: From Angels to Love" (Dec. 7, 2016)  (1438: Siena - Dagli Angeli all'Amore. (07.12.2016))

  • Earliest playing cards in Europe, by place (9 entries)

"Playing Cards in Europe Before 1377? Holland" (Jan. 18, 2017 and March 9, 2017) (Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? Olanda. (18.01.2017) and Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? Olanda. Addendum. (09.03.2017))

"Playing Cards in Europe Before 1377? Aragon" (June 21, 2016) (Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? Aragona. (21.06.2016))

 "Playing Cards in Europe Before 1377? Buja" (June 15, 2016) (Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? Buja. (15.06.2016))

"Playing Cards in Europe Before 1377? Bohemia" (June 7, 2016) (Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? Boemia. (07.06.2016))

"Playing Cards in Europe Before 1377? Poland" (June 2, 2016) (Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? Polonia. (02.06.2016)

 "Playing Cards in Europe Before 1377? Italy" (May 5, 2016) (Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377 ? Italia. (05.05.2016))

"Various cards at Basel in 1377 or 1429" (April 26, 2016) (Carte varie a Basilea nel 1377 o nel 1429. (26.04.2016))

"Playing Cards in Europe Before 1377? Berne" (April 26, 2016) (Carte varie a Basilea nel 1377 o nel 1429. (26.04.2016))

  "Comments on Islamic cards" (Feb. 8, 2016) (Commenti sulle carte islamiche. (08.02.2016)

  • General reflections, mostly on trionfi (5 entries)

"Other comments on the triumphs" (Jan. 11, 2016) (Altri commenti sui trionfi. (11.01.2016))

"Cremona 1441? Ruminations on the Visconti-Madrone" (Jan. 17, 2016) (Cremona 1441? - Elucubrazioni sui tarocchi Visconti di Modrone o Cary-Yale. (17.01.2016))

"Milanese and Florentine Triumphs" (Feb. 12, 2016) (Trionfi milanesi e fiorentini - ipotesi e commenti. (12.02.2016))

"Earliest Triumphs: Contrasting Proposals and Outlooks" (Oct. 4, 2016) (Primi trionfi, proposte contrastanti e prospettive. (04.10.2016))

"Imaginary origins of triumphs and minchiate" (Nov. 19, 2016) (Genesi favolosa di trionfi e minchiate. (19.11.2016)   

 "Minchiate, Reflections on Design" (Dec. 2, 2023), at Franco's original is at Minchiate. Riflessioni sul design (02.12.2023).

A complete list of Franco's essays on playing cards, with links to their texts in the original language, is at Those originally published at, all but one originally in English, are online at that site. The one essay there in Italian only, "Atlante tascabile e minchiate" (Pocket atlas and minchiate) can be read in English via Google Translate, by entering the page's url ( into Google's search engine for websites and then clicking on "translate this page." The result is adequate English; just remember that the word referring to the manure of bulls when it appears in the translation is Google's translation for the Italian minchiate, of course referring to the game and not the product produced by bulls, commentators on tarot, etc. All of Franco's essays in the list on indicated as "first published at" can be read in languages other than English by the same procedure. For the essays on Franco's own site, all I have been able to do is download them to my computer and then have Google translate them as a "document" rather than a "website."

Oct.-Dec. 2023: General Rules on the Game of Minchiate

 Now the final Playing Card article since 2018 so far, again in a series on the rules of minchiate (including rules for playing well; the others are the titles below this one on the sidebar of this blog for June 2024). From the Oct.-Dec. 2023 issue of The Playing Card (52, number 2, pp. 12-19), it was originally "Regole Generali sopra il Gioco delle Minchiate," at Substantially the same article had already appeared on in August, 2023, at The only difference I can see, in fact, is in the placement and caption of the first illustration. Of course one is reproduced from its digitalized journal format and the other is from Franco's own pdf.

This article presented unusual translation difficulties: in some parts, neither Franco nor I had more than a hazy idea what was being said! So we had to settle for a more or less literal translation of the text. It will at least convey the style and general content of the original, which seems to reveal more than usual in the obscurity of minchiate's deeper mysteries. With some trepidation, I offer a few explanatory - or not so explanatory - comments in square brackets, my own in consultation with Franco. The small numbers in the left margin are the page numbers as originally published, and footnotes are indicated in red and put at the bottom of the corresponding pages. For reference on terms that the author does not explain, see the previous post, the section on terms. In the present booklet, what I found most illuminating was the explanation on how to conduct the sminchiare, or girare, as it was known (or also known) in Florence.

General Rules on the Game of Minchiate

Franco Pratesi

[Regole Generali sopra il Gioco delle Minchiate]

Introduced in Florence in the 15th or 16th century, the so-called game of Minchiate or Germini – to be played with the homonymous pack of 97 cards – is both courageous and fascinating. The finding of a previously unnoticed manuscript from the 18th century enlivens, once again, the research and the dialogue on the theme.
The name of the author is unknown. The refined calligraphy and decoration, in contrast with the lack of an adequate syntactic structure, might result from the dictation of an expert, illiterate player to a scribe. Nevertheless, the frequent use of Latin and the presence of some cultured references do not allow us to embrace this theory.
As for the geographic origin, we welcome the suggestion of the Beinecke Library – where the manuscript was identified – and recognize it in Florence. More defined dating appears, on the contrary, controversial.
In particular, the document could be contemporary to 14 Minchiate cards found in the same context, which we can date to around 1760 thanks to the stamp duties and signatures of the period. On the other hand, a first analysis of the technical content related to the game conducted by Nazario Renzoni, due to compatibility issues with the chronology of regulations from other sources, suggests that this should better be dated to the first decades of the century.
From a standpoint of content, unlike other printed publications on the rules for Minchiate, this one focuses exclusively on the expedients to play well. At present, it should be pointed out that playing with the Fola ('se si fa alla fola') is presented as just a possibility and not yet a norm. The expert contribution of Nazario Renzoni and Andrea Ricci, with an in-depth analysis and comparison with akin texts, is expected to shed light on this description of the rules.



Some of my recent studies on the history of card games, before the resumption of the last few months, concerned publications on the rules of minchiate: I managed to find editions and reprints that had never been reported, practically reviewing all the production of the 18th and 19th centuries. [note 1] Another important work of the same type is the manuscript found by Andrea Vitali in the Library of Castiglion Fiorentino: it is dated 1716, therefore older than the printed publications. [note 2] I intend to present here, modifying a preliminary version, [note 3] another eighteenth-century manuscript, dedicated precisely to the rules of minchiate, preceded by a short presentation and followed by some final comments.

Browsing the internet with the digitized catalogs of the major libraries, I have identified the manuscript in question in the Beinecke Library, together with fourteen minchiate cards that I presented separately. [note 4]
1. The Playing-Card, 47 No. 2 (2018) 103-113; 47, No. 3 (2019) 176-179; 48, No. 3 (2020) 96-102; 49, No. 1 (2020) 8-13; 49, No. 2 (2020) 64-69.
2. ... inchiate._ ms._185.pdf



Fig. 1. From: Rules and Playing Cards for Minchiate. General Collections, Beinecke Rare and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Cover.

Title on cover of rules: Regole generali sopra il gioco delle minchiate. In Italian.
Purchased from Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., on the Mary Flagler Cary Fund, 2010.
Collection that includes manuscript rules by an unidentified author, possibly in Florence, Italy, for playing the card game minchiate, circa 1700-1750, as well as fourteen contemporary hand-tinted printed playing cards made by “Al Poverone, ” a card maker active in Bologna, Italy, during the eighteenth century.

[For more on the provenance, see or its English translation at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=2733.]

Understandably, I tried to get a copy. As often happens to me, I got lost in the digitized bureaucracy, but then the librarians were very kind and made me make up for lost time by sending me the scans in an incredibly short time. I transcribe it in full below.

(p. 1) General Rules on the Game of Minchate

Rule One – About the manner of discarding

The main foundation of this game is the discard, without a perfect intelligence of which the player lacks the most essential part of the game. He who discards must therefore be warned to first consider the quality of the cards he finds in his hand, whether he has high cards, such as superior aces, or small honors, but necessary to be taken [cavarsi], whether many tarocchi, or worthless suit cards [cartaccie]. If he has high Arie, that is, either the World or the Trumpets, he will have to discard as high as possible without thinking about making a void [far vacanza] to kill the Kings. The reason is because, by keeping a large quantity of cards of the same suit, they cannot be taken from one’s hand either by the partner nor by others, but it will be necessary for him to lead them himself, and in this way whoever is under his hand will save all of his. If he does not have either the World (p. 2) or the Trumpets but a large quantity of honors such as the One, the Thirteen, the Thirty, and others similar, he will have to discard as low as possible and try in every way to create a void [far vacanza], in order to be able make those fives [cinque, i.e. cards worth five points each], provided that in this case, not having superior cards, he must not think about taking those of others, but about saving his own.

In this, however, it should be noted that if one plays with the fola, in that case, it is permissible for everyone to see the pack of residual cards [il monte = the fola], not to choose the discard with which he claims to save his honors in a suit of which there are many cards in the fola, because those that are in the fola are not in the hands of anyone, it is easy to find an adversary who is void and instead of saving everything, sacrifices everything; which mainly must be noticed by the one who discards under [i.e., before] the hand of another, who must equally discard, as would be the one who discards by robbing at the cut [per la rubata d’alzata], and plays before [literally, under the hand of] the one who deals the cards, and there are not above himself [to his left] others who discard. You will be able to take a little more freedom in this, even if you have to be careful in this to proceed with caution in so doing [guardare in questo di camminar geloso] without great necessity.

And this same rule (p. 3) will have to be followed by those who have many tarocchi rather than few, that is, having no World or Trumpets, but many honors to get, always discarding the lowest with the circumspection mentioned above. If then he has many tarocchi, and a few worthless suit cards, and these are distributed in different suits, such as all thirds and fourths, and he will not find jealous cards in his hand to turn over [voltare], he will have to discard a tarocco, so that the multiplicity of them does not force him to take, and play, another tarocco in the face of the one under his hand [i.e. before him], and thus give him the opportunity to put everything he has on the stack of cards won [monte with a different reference] and in safety.

If then he has jealous cards to take [cavare], which are those discussed above, and he has high cards at the same time, that is, the World and the Trumpets, he will have to discard as low as possible, because in this case it is more important to make his own than to chase that of the adversaries, in addition to the fact that they may have little, every time the one who discards finds himself with so much stuff [roba, here meaning so many good cards] in his hand. And if he doesn't have either one or the other, that is, neither high cards nor jealous cards to save, he will have to make the discard so as to kill the Kings if able, and not being able to discard Queens or Knights to deceive the player (p. 4) into believing that he has made a free discard; and this about the rule of discard.

Rule Two – About the way to play low cards [la cartiglia]

Not inferior to the discard rule is the rule for playing the low cards, in which consists every way and opportunity to make his own and impede that of his adversaries; around which it is already known that the Kings usually are the first to be taken [cavarsi], that is, on the first trick of any suit.

After which the one who remains master of the lead will have to make sure to go back into the suit of which fewer cards have been dealt, and if it happens that what is under the hand lacks some suit, the one that leads will have to be completely careful of playing those cards in his face if by chance he does not have a succession of some suits and no other. The rule therefore is to never lead a card in that suit [literally, play in the face the suit] that someone is void in, if you know it; and if you don't know, play in the one they have led the fewest times, and that you have the fewest in your hand. Then vice versa (p. 5): if the one that is above your hand [i.e. after you] is void in some suit, the one that is below [before you] will always have to lead in that one having some, to always put him at risk of passing, and of not taking his [the points that can be obtained with his cards] easily.

In the suit in which the partner is void, rarely one leads [it] so as not to force him to go under [before] the opponent, particularly if, of that suit in which the partner is void, there is a large number of cards in one’s hand, because in this case it is very easy to find another one that is missing, and thus deceive the partner, making him go to the sledgehammer and lose all his; in this case, therefore, do not lead back to [non remitta] the partner, nor to the second, contributing in kind in addition to the multiplicity of that suit that one has in one's hands the multiplicity also in the mind, but rather if there is nothing else one plays a tarocco for once, and if then the lead returns to the hand and is played in that suit because from that previous tarocco played, the partner will be warned not to pass, meaning by this the number of cards of that suit that the partner has in his hand; if it is useful [comple] to be induced [ = indursi, admittedly obscure], one must play as high as possible, but this (p. 6) must not be done except in the case of which will be discussed further below in the rule of the indications of the Trumpets.

Rule Three – the way to pass with the honors and of playing a tarocco

The rule is with cards of prejudice not to pass except at most [in cases found] in the aforementioned part [something he has said earlier]

(of prejudice means the One and the Thirty only) and all the cards that have a verzicola both on one side and on the other; this is because it is true that time, that the multiplicity of the honors, and of these verzicola cards, does not force one to also pass to the third, in which case the third over the tarocco will always be safer.

To the third, however, regularly with the other five [cinque] which are less important, as would be a Ten, a Thirty-one, a Thirty-four and the like when they do not produce a verzicola and if there is a large quantity of them, it is customary to pass, and especially with the Papini, by the approved axiom Ad tertiam mitte Papinum [to the third play Papino]; one never passes to the fourth except in extreme (p. 9) necessity, as it would be when at the end of the game someone finds in their hand a card to save, and had been restricted or constrained by one who was above [after] them; in this case, if it happens that one of the other two leads a card of a suit to which the one above has always responded, even if it is fourth, one can take the liberty of passing, as long as it is hopeless to be able to pass that card, otherwise, because in any other case, he will not have to subject himself to that danger; after all, having no second or third, he will have to send all his counting cards toward his partner, as he cannot make it easily, when, however, he knows for sure that he will not respond to that suit.

As for playing a tarocco, those with superior cards should be advised always to play high tarocchi with the aim of passing on the last cards; if he has no superiors, he will do the opposite. However, make sure you leave some little ones in your hand, because it could happen that you must pass to help your partner. On the contrary, one who has superior cards, even if he has to try to get rid of the highest, must nevertheless keep at least one and (p. 10) sometimes even one that counts, as it would be if one had the Trumpets, and the Thirty-three; a Thirty-three could never be taken, inasmuch as one has not seen the outcome of the game, and if the partner needs to come at his turn with little ones, because it could happen that turning [girando], the partner needs to come at his turn with the One or a Thirteen, and it being covered by the opponent with a Twenty-seven, it would be necessary [for him] to get rid of the trumpets in order to save that Thirteen.

Finally, it should be noted that the partner will occupy some verzicola that contains a high and a low card, like the verzicola of the Uno, Fool and the Trumpets. If the partner has never been able to get the Uno, he must go when the same does not respond in his turn with an Aria if he has it, and if he doesn't have it with the highest he has, or with an equivalent because the adversary for fear of the Trumpets will not cover it, and in this way he will save the One, which is his verzicola.

In order to know how to play the tarocchi, those who play should be careful never to take the lead from whoever is under [after] their hand, in case (p. 7) of non-counting tarocchi, such as a Sixteen, a Twenty-two, and the like, because these are never taken to make cards, but are always left.

The lead of the partner is always taken if there is no intention of killing something, and the hand above [after] is always left; The Fool is never kept [non serva mai] either as the last or penultimate card, whether you have high or low cards.

Rule Four – About smoking [fumare]

It very often happens in this, as in all other games, that the too partial luck of one side with a distribution that is too passionate and unjust as usual puts the whole game, that is to say all the superiors, in the hands of two partners, in which case it would be stupid for those who find themselves favored not to make use of the opportunity, which once lost is never found again, as the Poet sang: Fronte capillata post haec occasio calva. [Occasion has hair over her forehead, but behind she’s bald] And the other, who praised his singing at the game: Perdidit in punto quod non reparatur in anno.[What is lost in a moment is not recovered in a year.]

(p. 8) Given this, it follows how it can follow in several ways, especially when it happens that one of the two partners declares three Arie or four, as it would be, Moon, Sun, World, or Star, Moon, Sun, and World, and that the other has the Trumpets in his hand, so that the one who has the verzicola in his hand is not in fear and tries to take it safely, which is not appropriate, in this case being in the certainty of not being able to die, he will have to do the smoking, that is, giving him the Trumpet signal, in this way: the first time the lead comes into his hand he will play a tarocco, but a tarocco that does not count, so as not to force him to get rid of an Aria above that led.

If then the partner has declared three Arie alone in the verzicola, that is, Star, Moon, and Sun, in such a way that there are two cards higher than the verzicola, and the partner finds both of them in his hand, as soon as the lead touches him he will play a tarocco that counts, because the tarocco that counts smokes for the World and the Trumpets, and the tarocco that doesn't count smokes for the Trumpets only.

With the World alone there is no smoking (p. 11), except in this case, as it would be when the Trumpets come uncovered in what is under the hand of the one who will have three Arie in the verzicola, or indeed they come there in the fola, or in another way it would be known that they are in the hands of that one, since then the partner of the one who has the verzicola will be able to smoke the World, so that one knows where both the superiors are, and stay with a calm mind, and if indeed making this smoke exposes oneself to the danger of the World being taken by the one who has the Trumpets, this matters little compared to how much not doing the smoke could matter.

Rule Five – Of the sminchiare of the game, which is called turning [girare]

But sometimes it is not enough to smoke a partner to play a game well and to prey on everything that the opponents have, but it is necessary to point out many other things that will be told here.

Let us therefore assume the case, as in the previous rule, that is, that the game is entirely in the hands of two partners, and that both the one and the other can understand, whether by declaring (p. 12) the verzicole of the higher Arie, or of the Above-Twenties [sopreventi], and with the robbing, or with the fola, both the one and the other will have to observe not to play a low card, nor always a tarocco; with this caution, however, that the one who has the lead in his hand always plays a tarocco that does not count, and the other partner whose turn it is respond equally with a tarocco, puts in one of those that count, and which cannot be taken, and then, while his lead remains, he plays a tarocco that doesn't count, and the other partner passes with one of those that count and cannot be taken, with the effect that the adversaries, not being able to get in even a Papa due to the holdings, are forced to drop, giving completely all that they have, and this is the way they can also lose the Fool, making not even one card, and lose seven resti, which is how much you can lose in one deal of the cards.

This is not only true when the two partners find themselves [winning] the game completely, as it would be if between both of them had from Thirty up to Forty, but it is also true when (p. 13) they are missing only one or two, because in this case one sacrifices one of those he has, and that matters less for remaining masters of the game, and even if the Trumpets was missing, it would be good to play the World, the Thirty-three, Thirty-two, etc., provided that the loss of cards does not lead to loss of verzicole for the reason already stated.

Note, however, that the rule given above of having to pass with a tarocco that counts and that cannot be taken in a hold [tenuta] is true when the partners playing the game are uncertain in whose hands the few worthless cards they are looking for are among their opponents, because if they knew for sure that they were in the hands of one, what would it be like if the other had dropped [cascato], or even if he had the opportunity to take and had not taken anything, then, and in such a case, whoever has the hand above [i.e. before] whoever has the cards that one wants to plunder must never take, and his partner will always play tarocchi that do not count, but as high as he can, so that the other can more easily leave and keep all the others in his hand, and if in the end forced by necessity he takes [he has] to play a bad tarocco, and the partner goes to a hold [tenuta], and (p. 14) the partner [to] what he has, they are, first if he wants to make them save little ones from going in his turn with the high, and leave indeed often to whom is above his hand.

If you want to save the other cards of the over-twenties, lead in that suit in which the partner is void, and all the others respond while, however, having few of that suit, otherwise not useful [comple], as was said above, to this of moving in the suit which the partner is void, or when the opponents have a turning game, because then, before the lead returns it is good to ensure that the partner save his, so that in the continuation of the game he does not drop [caschi] and lose everything he has.

If then they are in an ordinary game, the rule already given above of never moving in the suit in which the partner is void must be observed; and for

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Fig. 2. From: Rules and Playing Cards for Minchiate. General Collections, Beinecke Rare and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Last two pages.

helping the partner, at times the rule of never moving in the suit in which the hand above is void suffers from exception, because if it happens that one who is above the hand of the partner for whom you want to save some card that matters will remain stubborn in never wanting to take, you must lead in the suit that is void (p. 15), and all the others will respond, because in this way he will have to take by force, and this must be done all the more, when it is known for certain that after having taken he could not give his partner the cards to be taken in response by the partner [refitte], due to which it will happen for the first time that the partner. not being able to take. will refuse [si rifiuterà], or this function will have to be repeated a second and even a third time.

If you know the refitte [cards to be taken in response by the partner] that the opponent can lead to his partner, you first try to get them out of his hand, and then you play the game mentioned, and when this suit is played, in order to make it be taken by the one who is above the partner, the highest of that suit that is in your hand should always be played, for the reason to be explained [I will explain, he means] orally [in voce].

Comments and conclusion

The manuscript is 21x15 cm in size and contains 15 written pages, a blank initial, and the cover. In the transcription, I allowed myself some changes to make reading more comfortable. I especially tried to use punctuation and capitalization more consistently – I would have kept the author's usage if it had been consistent. The author evidently knows how to write very well in terms of calligraphy (also note in the figure the squiggle at the end of the text) but not in terms of syntax; the topic is treated not only in a discursive form, but also with a continuous flow of connected sentences without structuring them. One could think of a skilled illiterate player who turned to an expert scribe to

have him put down the rules of his game on paper, perhaps under dictation without taking a breath; the end of these rules would also be better understood this way, with an unusual postponement to verbal communication of a particular case.

However, the hypothesis does not hold up, in view of the recurring use of Latin: Ad tertiam mitte Papinum - at the third play a Papino – will not be found among the classical authors; Fronte capillata
post haec occasio calva,
which dates back to none other than Cato [it was thought], indicating Occasion: when she passes by, if you don't grab her by the hair on her forehead, she has no hair on the back of her head; Perdidit in puncto quod non reparatur in anno seems to negatively modify the motto of Emperor Ferdinand I: Accidit in puncto quod non speratur in anno [It happened in a single moment, what was feared for a year]– here: what is lost in a single moment is not recovered in a whole year. Finally, there would be more Latin added on the title page, but I cannot decipher it enough, much less understand its overall meaning: Que nesci / Pennabis / Se[r]penti / [re]bus [ iipsele ] / Non valemus. But that this is only a copy is clearly demonstrated by the presence of an entire page out of place.

It would be important to be able to specify the name of the author, the local provenance and the date of this text. As for the name, I have no indication. Regarding the provenance, the suggestion from the Beinecke Library – possibly Florence – certainly seems to me to be accepted: as a Florentine accustomed to popular language I cannot find any foreign words, except for the term “comple” from the obsolete verb complire [here meaning to be advantageous], and indeed I find something like “i cinqui,” plural of five, which, although incorrect in Italian, sounds familiar to me. For the date, based on the handwriting, a very wide margin could not be avoided, even more than the entire first half of the eighteenth century indicated by the Beinecke Library. However, in the case - probable although not certain - that the playing cards found together are contemporary, the dating can be suggested with a very narrow margin around the year 1760, as I have indicated for the cards themselves, [note 4] and as can be obtained with even greater precision from what we know about stamps and signatures on Florentine cards of the time. [note 5]

Regarding the content, I have to discuss for a moment what was meant by rules of the game, because the situation can be very different. Today one would imagine several sections dedicated, in order, to the description of: 1. the cards (because they are unique, used for this game and for no other); 2. the flow of the game (dealing cards, trick rules, combinations with extra points, counting of points); 3. Playing the tricks well (conventions, signals to your partner, choice of cards to play first, various tricks); 4. the penalties to be imposed on those who do not respect some rules (errors in distribution, failure to respond to the suit, various cheats).

For example, the tarocchi game popular in Milan was described from the end of the eighteenth century in a text repeated for a century in dozens of reprints, which in these aspects in practice contained only the last. [note 6] Usually, the printed publications on the rules of minchiate are rather balanced, and this is also the case with the 1716 manuscript. The manuscript presented here deals exclusively with the third of the sections listed above, that is, the one which in the 1716 manuscript would just be the “8th and last Chap.”; on the topic, the discussion here is more extensive, about double that.

If I can hazard a preliminary judgment, I would say that this manuscript does not bear comparison with other sources, both due to its only partial nature and due to its later date. However, much of what you read here is quite different from the corresponding section in other texts. I would only point out for the moment "if it's done with the fola," because playing with the fola was a manner introduced at a later time; here it seems only a possibility, later it will become the rule, and probably this transition occurred at different times in different cities.

Before a possible completion of the description of these rules with a detailed analysis of the technical content, and with a timely comparison

with other versions, I intend to make use of the greater expertise of two Florentine experts, Nazario Renzoni and Andrea Ricci, [note 7] who are brave enough to play minchiate today and whom I am lucky enough to know. Nazario Renzoni's first and main comment is that there could be many years of difference between the cards and the Rules booklet; the date of the latter, to be compatible with the chronology of rules known from other sources, especially on the fola, should date back to the first decades of the eighteenth century.

Oct.-Dec. 2020: 1747 book on minchiate and other games

 Continuing with Franco's series of articles about early books about minchiate (the others, in reverse sequence are in the sidebar on the left, for June 2024, next is one published in Rome of 1747, of which Franco summarizes and quotes the relevant part. It is actually a fairly helpful introduction to the game, I thought, including reasonably intelligible explanations of the terms used.

This translation is of Franco's "Libro del 1747 sulle minchiate, e altri giochi," at, originally published in The Playing-Card 49, no 2 (Oct.-Dec. 2020), pp. 64-69. Comments in brackets are by me for explanatory purposes, the numbers by themselves are the page numbers in the original publication, and the notes are at the bottom of the corresponding page. The Italian original is preceded by a short summary originally in English.

1747 book on minchiate and other games

Franco Pratesi

English Summary

The book under study was published in Rome in 1747 by Brunetti, a canon of the Roman church, who was also publishing books on religious, mathematical, and scientific topics. All of them were dedicated (and addressed) to noblewomen and aristocrats. The largest part of this book describes the card game of Minchiate, followed by a short treatment of Hombre and a series of examples of chess endgames and openings; a few final pages contain some problems of algebra, intended to provide elements for computations required in everyday trade. We are mainly interested in the part on Minchiate, which is organized in sequential chapters, with literary digressions separately placed between each of them. A first part explains the laws of the game, whereas the suggestions on how to play are listed in a second part; in the present study, this account of the game has been briefly reviewed. A survey has also been conducted on the copies of this work that have been preserved, and the rather surprising result is that more items can be found abroad than in Italy, with a significant portion in the USA.


The book on games

The book we are examining is certainly an important work on the subject. [note 1] Among the games presented in the book, minchiate, ombre (hombre), and chess, the game of minchiate is treated first and alone occupies half of the volume; at the end. there are also a few pages with some algebra problems intended as useful examples for solving practical business cases.

In some respects, Brunetti's book - in relation to the part on minchiate - is not too different from the one attributed to the Ferrarese abbot Luigi Bernardi and also printed in Rome as early as 1728, the first on the subject.[note 2] The main structural difference is that here the literary-erudite contribution is carefully kept confined in the Allegorical Notes that follow the chapters dedicated to the technique of the game. For us, this means that we can easily skip all the literary part and the frequent quotations from the Latin
1. D. Francesco Saverio Brunetti da Corinaldo, Giuochi delle Minchiate, Ombre, Scacchi, Ed altri d’ingegno. [Games of Minchiate, Ombre, Chess, And others of ingenuity.] Rome, for Bernabò, and Lazzarini, 1747.
2. F. Pratesi, “Minchiate le Regole Generali di Roma e Macerata” [Minchiate, the General Rules of Rome and Macerata]. The Playing-Card, vol. 48 no. 3 (2020), 96-102. [Here on THF, it is the immediately preceding post.]

classics; those interested can refer to a recent study by an authoritative source, which briefly takes in examination this book, including its Allegorical Notes. [note 3]

The following table can then serve as a first presentation of the book, in which the index is reproduced, with the page numbers. The chapters on topics other than minchiate are listed in italics, which here, as with the Allegorical Notes, will not be examined.

This book stands out from all the others that provide instructions for conversation games (and in particular for minchiate) in several aspects, both in form and content, and therefore deserves specific analysis and discussion.

Summary of the text in question

Information and explanations

In this part, the chapters follow one another without an order number, which here - as already in the table with the index - will be inserted for greater clarity. Often, the author describes the situation in a concise and precise way, so much so that it seems useful to quote his own text in quotation marks. The Italian language is not what it is today, but it remains understandable.

1. Deck of Cards. “This game is played with a deck of 97 cards. These are the 4 common sequences of Swords, Batons, Coins, and Cups; each sequence has 14 Cards. Then there are 40 Tarocchi and the Fool.”

2. The four Sequences. The order of taking suit cards is 10 to 1 for swords and batons, but 1 to 10 for cups and coins. Only the King counts as 5, the other [suit] cards count as 1 if won from the opponents.

3. Tarocchi. “The Tarocchi are marked with Roman numerals from I to XXXV; the first five are called Papi, the last five Arie, and they are 36 Star, 37 Moon, 38 Sun, 39 World, 40 Trumpets. Their value is 3 from 2 to 5, and 1, 10, 13, 20, 28, Fool, 30 to 35 are worth 5, and Arie 10.”

4. Fool. “This is neither Tarocco nor [Cartiglia [suit cards except King]; it enters all the verzicole, and forms one with the maximum and minimum Tarocco; you never lose it if you don't lose all the cards, because when you play it, you take it back, and in its place you give a Cartiglia.”

5. Verzicole. He lists the verzicole [combinations]. Three or 4 Kings. 1+Fool+Trumpets. 1+13+28. 10+20+30 (or 20+30+40 or 10+20+30+40). Three or more Papi in a row. Three or more cards in a row from 28 to Trumpets. (The 29 counts only in the verzicola; the Fool in all of them). “At the end of the game, all the cards count 354, and the last [trick] adds 10 more.” 60 points form a resto.

6. Manner of play. “This game is played with four people, either in a game with the entragnos (as is commonly used) or in a game without entragnos (entragnos means that, after robbing, all the counting cards that are found in the residual [the fola, the cards not dealt] are seen and taken.)” [See also his point 9.]

7. Way of playing in a hand with entragnos. Explains how to form partners by drawing lots, cutting, robbing, dealing the cards, using the fola. “The first time a suit is played, the King is given by default, and the Fool cannot
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be given in this one case; to save a King you have to hang it, that is, you first play [lead] your suit without playing it [non giucarlo la prima vola, che si giuoca al suo palo].”

8. Manner of counting. “Once the game is over, the cards are placed three by three, that is, two that do not count, and a counting one on top, and make as many of these mounds as there are counting cards that you have. Fourteen of these mounds make up the number of cards you had, that is, forty-two, all the others are earned, and as many as you earn, that many you immediately write down. . . . Then you count as much as you have from cards declared from the beginning, then all the verzicole that you have, then all the cards, the last [trick], and the [points] marked [segnati]; from all this calculation the count of the opponents is subtracted, and the remainder gives the victory of as many resti as there are times sixty enters into said remainder, and one more, if there is any point left over, which is also called entragnos.”

9. Explanation of the terms of this Game. “I don't think there is any game in which more extravagant terms are used than this one.” “Drowning a King, or hanging a King, means not playing the King the first time that you play to [lead] a suit, you hang the Kings so as not to lose them.” “Dying means taking [actually, losing] any counting card.” “To smash [smattare] means responding with the Fool.” To make [Fare], to play a tarocco with no more cards in the suit. To make a hunt [far caccia], to leave the play, postponing the capture until a more advantageous opportunity. To do a hold [fare tenuta], play a higher card than the one you want to take from your opponent. “To make a pass [fare passata] is to play a jealous [or delicate] tarocco to a cartiglia, with risk” [because a higher trump could take it]. “To turn [or rotate: girare] the game is to play the major tarocchi from the beginning. To smoke [Fumare] is to play a small papa [[papino], as a sign to your partner that you have a good game, you also smoke with an over-twenty [sopreventi – tarocco higher than XX].” Dropping [cascare], you no longer have tarocchi, and you can put the cards face up on the table for the person who takes the trick to play them. “Entragnos are the counting cards that are in the fola, and the points that are left over, which make a resto. Fola are the last thirteen cards, which remain out of play [a monte].”

10. Laws of the Game. Abrogated Law [only this one]: anyone who found nothing in the fola paid a resto. Twenty points to pay to your opponents for the first wrong card and ten for subsequent ones. In the end, whoever has more or fewer cards counts only the verzicole declared at the beginning, the cards, and the last trick. Whoever refuses pays a resto to each one of the opponents. Verzicole not declared before playing the first card do not count. “Whoever drops and puts his cards on the table is no longer the master of picking them up again. If some cards are missing from the deck, you don't redo the cards or change the deck, the card on the floor goes in the fola discards."

11. Turning game [Giuoco di giro]. If you understand that the pair has a strong game, you signal to your partner by playing a little papa or a sopreventi, and then you try to make all the tricks to capture the jealous cards of your opponents.

Warnings for playing well

What playing well consists of: “I reduce all the ways of playing well in Minchiate into four heads. First, discard. Second, answer cartiglia to cartiglia, tarocco to cartiglia, and tarocco to tarocco. Third, play cartiglia. Fourth, play tarocco, for which twelve very useful precepts follow.”

1. “First of all, once you have received the cards, you must be careful not to give any sign of their quality.”

2. “ Discard. Let voiding [of suits] be done, as much as you can. . . . Be careful to discard in that suit of which there are the fewest in the fola . . . if then you have few Tarocchi, [for them] to be supported, discard where there are more in the fola."

3. “You shouldn't do a voiding [far un faglio] when you have the Trumpets and few Tarocchi, that is, fewer than nine. . . . Be careful when discarding in that suit where you have the most in your hand.”

4. “Keep in memory the number of cards of each suit, which are in the fola, and from trick to trick that you play, count how many are left, and in whose hand, so as to figure it out... and this is the most useful Precept of this game”. Many know this precept but do not put it into practice "since it requires very laborious attention."

5. “Reply Cartíglia to Cartíglia. First, pass [passate] the King, or hang him. . . second, put the Queens on the second ones [tricks in the suit?] to make the tricks, and then be able to quickly play in the voided suits or discard of the partner; if you then want him to play for you in yours, lay down inferior cards.”

6. “ Replying Tarocco to Cartíglia. . . . On the first, you can pass anything, and on the second again, on the third you can risk a papino, or another counting card, but one of little importance; on the third on the Tarocco it is easier to risk one over thirty, however, make sure that there are no more than three in the fola.”

7. “ Replying Tarocco to Tarocco. If the Tarocco is played in your face, that is, below your hand, or from the right, do what you want and you can; if above [your] hand you turn [girate] to your partner; if from your partner, when you don't have any play to make chase [far caccia], cover to support your partner, or make a hold [tenuta] on some important card.”

8. Don't respond to your partner's negative comments about the game.

9. “ Playing a Tarocco. If it's your turn to play a Tarocco, and you have a play to make a hunt [gioco da fare caccia], smoke to your partner so that he can support you, and then leave the game in the hands of others."

10. “Dropping [cascare]. You must not drop when you have drowned Kings in your hand, until they are given, if possible, in the captures of your partner, or when probably all still have cartiglia. . . . However, I recommend keeping them until the end.”

11. “Value of the Tarocchi. In order to know the value of the Tarocchi, how much it means to have them or not have them,

here is the following table [reproduced later], in which the value of the lack of a single counting card is expressed. Altogether the counting cards count 354, to which must be added the verzicole declared at the beginning, and the earned cards, and ten for the last [trick], with points for the revealed [those taken when cutting or robbing] and the [counting cards] killed.”

12. “At the end of the game, if you win or lose, always remain the same, and don't give signs of too much displeasure from one or too much joy from the other event; and above all, remember to be economical with the money you win... Above all, if you have lost, do not worry, because there is no worse harm than anxiety of the soul.”

Game in four to each one for himself.Chapter Three.
This type of game is no longer used, and the author only proposes four precepts which summarize, with the foreseeable small differences, what has already been presented.

Information about the author

Among the manuals printed in the eighteenth century with the intention of teaching the complex game of minchiate, this is the only one that did not appear anonymous. The author Francesco Saverio Brunetti was born in 1693 in Corinaldo, in the Ancona region; coming to Rome in 1711, he became a popular teacher and preceptor as well as papal chaplain to Clement XII, Benedict XIV, and Clement XIII; thanks to his activities, he was able to establish close relationships with several members of the most prestigious Roman nobility.

The games in the book are dedicated to the Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Lady Princess Donna Giulia Albani Chigi. As if the merits of the noble recipient were not enough, in the preface, our author extends praise to her sons Sigismondo and Francesco and her cardinal brother Gianfrancesco, created cardinal in those days (10 April 1747), and his personal devotion towards him since he was a child. The position of cardinal was frequent in the Albani family: this Gianfrancesco was the great-grandson of Pope Clement XI and of Cardinal Alessandro, nephew of Cardinal Annibale, and uncle of Cardinal Giuseppe; evidently, a transmission of the seat between uncles and nephews could continue, especially if the noble family resided in or near Rome.

Other works by the same author had a similar didactic intent, but concerned more traditional subjects. The religious booklets were certainly not surprising, [note 4] but the true "specialty" of this teacher of Roman noblemen and noblewomen was mathematics, in its most varied and most modern aspects; thus you can find entire booklets dedicated to statistics and also to "dyadic" arithmetic, the one used today in computers with only the digits 0 and 1. [note 5] Furthermore, our author undertook to provide updated information on all natural philosophy, or on the physical sciences that flourished at the time. [note 6]We also find scientific works written by him as Melantius Trifiliano, academic of Roman Arcadia, for a colleague; [note 7] in one of the booklets with scientific content, he also expands the part on the game of chess already present in the book under review.

All this production appears particularly abundant towards the middle of the century. In the absence of precise information, we can imagine that they were works that Brunetti considered useful to guarantee him better access to the top of Roman society and the favor of Pope Benedict (the Bolognese Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, 1675-1750, pope from 1740), also patron, unusually, of the medical and physical sciences.

Our author also does not disdain to deal with gaming, starting with minchiate.
An appropriate entertainment, enjoyed with pleasure, is gaming, this perchance is sometimes an appropriate interval-filler to entertain oneself with cheerful application in civil conversation, where the spirit is employed in something of light interest, and cheerful amusement restores weakened vigor. . . . Among these, I consider the game of Minchiate to be very suitable for making credible conversation, which, being long, varied, and full of risk and ingenuity, can at the same time retain, delight, and educate the person who occasionally plays it.
To validate the seriousness of his commitment, however, Brunetti underlines the didactic importance for young people of the Allegorical Notes that he interposes into his treatment.
4. Modo di assistere fruttuosamente al Santo Sacrificio della Messa ed altre orazioni cotidiane. [Manner of fruitfully assisting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and other daily prayers]. Rome 1735. Notizie delle cose più importanti del calendario gregoriano dedicate alla Santità di N. Signore Clemente papa 13. felicemente regnante. [Information on the most important things of the Gregorian calendar dedicated to the Sanctity of N. Lord Clement, Pope 13 happily reigning.] Rome 1758.
5. Dell'aritmetica comune e speciosa. [Of common and specious arithmetic.] Rome 1731. Arimmetica binomica, e diadica, in cui tutte le operazioni si fanno colle sole figure uno, e zero. [Binomic and dyadic arimmetic, in which all operations are performed with only the figures one and zero.] Rome 1758.
6. Trattenimenti scientifici su la sfera, geografia istorica, meteore, ed astronomia. [Scientific lectures on the [celestial] sphere, historical geography, meteors, and astronomy...] Rome 1755. Trattenimenti scientifici su l'idrografia, nautica, blasone, statica, meccanica, architettura, pirotecnia, e suono. [Scientific lectures on hydrography, nautics, blazons, statics, mechanics, architecture, pyrotechnics, and sound.] Rome 1755.
7. Compendio sferico, mitologo, istorico, geografico, e poetico alla nobilissima pastorella Euridice Ajacidense da Melanzio Trifiliano pastore arcade. [Spherical, mythological, historical, geographical, and poetic compendium to the noble shepherdess Euridice Ajacidense by Melanzio Trifiliano, arcadian shepherd.] Rome 1755.
8. Dialoghi analittici di D. Francesco Saverio Brunetti da Corinaldo...Quesiti utili, e giocondi risoluti dall'Eccellentissima Signora D. Gioconda Orsini de' duchi di Gravina. Con altre piacevolezze d'ingegno su varie materie, e singolarmente sul giuoco degli scacchi. [Analytical dialogues by D. Francesco Saverio Brunetti from Corinaldo...Useful and cheerful questions resolved for the Most Excellent Lady D. Gioconda Orsini of the Dukes of Gravina. With other intellectual delights on various subjects, and especially on the game of chess.] Rome 1754.

Comments on the book

As regards the content, we are in the presence of a book that teaches not one game but the three games which at the time could be considered the most popular in the living rooms of Roman high society. A similar work was compiled in London by Edmond Hoyle, starting from the first publication on whist in 1742, and with its countless re-editions it became the bible of English players, and indeed it soon spread worldwide thanks to its countless reprints and translations. The players in the Roman salons were not as numerous as the gentlemen who frequented the famous clubs of London, in an era in which the industrial revolution had led to the formation of an increasingly large and flourishing bourgeois class in England.

The recipients of our cleric's works were noblemen and noblewomen of the papal court, personages who belonged to the narrowest circle of Roman patricians; evidently, the print run of this edition proved sufficient to fulfill those requests, and there are no known reprints. Also taking into account the nobility and culture of the recipients, we cannot be surprised if these works are enriched with numerous digressions of an erudite nature, such as here the Allegorical Notes that accompany every single chapter of the manual.

In the book on games examined, it can be noted that among card games, the space reserved for the game of ombre, i.e. hombre, is incomparably less than that dedicated to minchiate. Instead, the final part on chess once again takes on a broader scope, but the numerous examples presented of the end and start of the game are not an original compilation but are based on the technical literature on chess that was already circulating in Italy.

However, there is another peculiarity that makes this work unique of its kind: here, we perceive not only the display of classical erudition but also the specific competence in combinatorics, something that is never encountered in books about minchiate. So we can read right from the preface that in the game of minchiate, as many as "96,141,308,410,784,017,049 different cases" can occur. Furthermore, toward the end of the description, we come across the following table, which provides us with a calculated value (numbers that vary from a minimum of 9 to a maximum of 55) for each single card that is missing among those taken at the end; the second coumn gives us the estimated value if the Fool were also absent together with that missing card. Image Brunetti warns us that going further in the calculation, with more cards missing, would be very laborious. In these cases, the author admits that these are complex calculations, which could diminish the pleasure typically connected to the game, and therefore he refers anyone interested in learning more about the issue to his mathematics books. In reality, even by consulting his other works, reconstructing the results of his calculations is not immediate, and we often end up assuming that there are errors, either his or the printer's.

However, even with today's mathematical knowledge, a complete statistical study of the distribution and game combinations that can be encountered in minchiate is indeed quite difficult. It's not even easy to find someone who has sufficient knowledge of both minchiate and statistics; some results in this regard can be obtained by contacting Nazario Renzoni of the Accademia dei Germini. [note 9]

Preserved specimens

As was done for the other books on the game of minchiate, research was also conducted on the specimens preserved in various public libraries around the world, listed in the following list.
Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma - Roma
Biblioteca Casanatese - Roma
Biblioteca Nazionale - Napoli
Biblioteca Civica - Cosenza
Biblioteca Oliveriana - Pesaro
Istituto Campana - Osimo (An)
Biblioteca Provinciale - Salerno
Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria - Torino
Biblioteca Civica Bertoliana - Vicenza
Biblioteca Vaticana (Stamp.Chig.V.2606) - Città del Vaticano
Biblioteca Vaticana (Stamp.Chig.V.3279) - Città del Vaticano
Universität Mozarteum - Salzburg, Austria
Bibliothèque Nationale de France - Paris, France
The British Library, St. Pancras - London, UK
Bodleian Library, Oxford University - Oxford, UK
University of London, Warburg Institute - London, UK
British Museum Library - London, UK
Biblioteca Nacional de España - Madrid, Spain
Koninklijke Bibliotheek - Den Haag, Netherlands
Maastricht University Library – Maastricht, Netherlands
Erasmus University – Rotterdam, Netherlands
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam – Amsterdam, Netherlands
The National & University Library of Iceland - Reykjavik, Iceland
Pierpont Morgan Library - New York, NY USA
New York Public Library - New York, NY USA
Library of Congress - Washington, DC USA
Cleveland Public Library - Cleveland, OH USA
University of Wisconsin - Madison, WI USA
University of Louisville - Louisville, KY USA
Colorado College - Colorado Springs, CO USA
Vanderbilt University Library - Nashville, TN USA
There are not many copies of the book in question preserved in Italy; understandably they are encountered in particular in the territory that belonged to the State of the Church. The "high" destination of this book, as mentioned, evidently also made it appreciated by foreign gentlemen, who in those years visited Italy in large numbers, including the Roman salons, and it is plausibly also thanks to them that a significant number of copies are still present in numerous libraries abroad, unexpectedly more than in Italy.

It is therefore not too surprising to note the presence of a copy in the main European capitals, but the quantity of copies preserved in the USA is quite unexpected. A possible explanation can be traced back not to the description of the game of minchiate but to that of chess, which attracted the interest of bibliophiles more and earlier than other games (it does not seem coincidental that Cleveland and The Hague have the two largest chess libraries worldwide).

Overall, it can be concluded that no other edition on the game of minchiate has been preserved in such an abundant and so dispersed manner on the European and North American continents; perhaps the only comparable one, albeit remaining on a lower level, is the edition of the General Rules reprinted in Florence in 1820 (even in that case a significant fraction of the copies is preserved in the USA, and in that book, chess is not spoken of).