Here is my translation of the note Huck referred to above, "1501-1521: Carte da Perugia e città vicine", http://www.naibi.net/a/601-UMBRIA-Z.pdf
, dated Jan. 5, 2017. (Franco put, "1510", but he assures 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. The quoted comments by Depaulis (here translated into English) are in French in Franco's original; that of Teikemeier (= Huck) is in 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
[translated at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1105&start=20#p18369
[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 http://www.naibi.net/A/14-TARNOT-Z.pdf
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: https://books.google.com/books?id=23Y5AAAAcAAJ
. 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,
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: "...in 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" [...in 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.
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 http://www.naibi.net/A/14-TARNOT-Z.pdf
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. [https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-qkOWeeaFqgk/ ... rugia1.jpg
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.
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