Caitlin Geofroy, and the C order

In 1557, more than a century after the Trionfi cards were first invented, Catelin Geofroy, a cartier of Lyon, set out to print and sell decks of tarot cards in France, the first to do so, I believe. For the suit cards he copied from a then new deck made by Virgil Solis of Nürnberg, with lions, parrots, peacocks, and monkeys for the four suits. For the trump cards, he must have had some Italian deck he copied: no French tarot deck earlier than his survives, nor is there evidence of one. He numbered his trumps, and his order can be called a type-C order, in Dummett's system. So his Italian source deck was likely a type C one, from Milan or thereabouts. But his order is not exactly the same as any earlier surviving deck, from Milan or anywhere. The first five trumps are in the same order in all type C sources (with one exception), and Geofroy follows that order, but for the next nine trumps the order is different in various C sources, and Geofroy is different from any. Since many of Geofroy's cards are missing, we will first have to guess what his order was. Here is a table of these nine trumps, in the known type C sources.
c-order full RW590.jpg
c-order full RW590.jpg (94.61 KiB) Viewed 1444 times
The first gap in Geofroy is position VIII. It must have been filled with some trump now missing. Perhaps it was trump XV, the Devil, or some trump with an even higher number, but this is not likely, as there would be no source for doing that, anywhere in the tarocchi world, and furthermore, of those who copied Geofroy, no such thing is found. Among tarocchi orders, it is mostly the virtues that move; for the Devil card to jump all the way from XV down to VIII would be very odd indeed. So we can rule out Devil or anything beyond that in position VIII. Therefore VIII must be Justice, Strength, or Wheel. If VIII is not Wheel, then Wheel must be X or XI, which is after Hermit at IX, so Wheel and Hermit are switched, and that is a change that is not just moving virtues. However, since all the cartiers in France who came after Geofroy, copied his order (except Viéville who we will discuss in a bit) and do have Wheel after Hermit, we can say that Geofroy most likely did move Wheel after Hermit. Since position VIII is not Wheel, it is either Justice or Strength. Of these two virtues, Justice is most likely, as both the Italians before him and the French after him, have Justice as the first virtue. So we conclude that trump VIII is Justice.

There remains to guess (of these nine trumps) only X and XI. It must be Strength before Wheel (like his Italian sources), or Strength after Wheel (like his French copiers). Which is most likely? Geofroy has made a major shuffle of his Italian source; cards got re-ordered in the range VII to XI. If Geofroy did not put Strength after Wheel, then it must have been AP who did it, re-ordering in the range X to XI. It would be an unlikely coincidence if AP, who elsewhere copies Geofroy's order exactly, happened by pure chance to make a shuffle of Geofroy in the same spot where Geofroy shuffled his Italian source. It is more likely that Geofroy did it all: having moved Strength and Wheel, he also switched them. So I think Geofroy made all the order changes, that were made, and the AP did not make any. Therefore Geofroy had Strength after Wheel, as his exact copiers have it.

The innovation in terms of order, that Geofroy made, was to put Hermit before Wheel. He also, maybe, put Strength after it. (He switched Hermit and Strength, in other words). Both innovations prevailed in France, and still do. A switch of Hermit and Strength, on either side of Wheel, is an interchange of trumps IX with XI. Getting the Roman numerals backwards is quite common in woodblock printing, due to the fact that right and left are switched between carving the wooden block, and what's printed from it. It's just a possibility, but maybe that happened in this case: IX was carved into the block for the 9th trump, and XI was carved for the 11th trump, and they came out switched. Note that Geofroy writes 4 as IIII rather than IV, but he writes 9 as IX.

In the above table, I included an order derived from the positions of the cards on the Cary Sheet. This assumes that the carver of the block carved the images in order, and carvers do tend to do that roughly, but not always exactly. In the Rosenwald sheets, the carver follows the order closely to start with, although he gets every Roman numeral backwards. But then Strength and Justice are both numbered VIII (Actually, they are both numbered IIIV). Then the next few cards are misordered compared to their own numbers and to any known A order, and then from Devil onward they are correct again, but he gives up on numbering the cards after card XII (actually IIX). Such departures from order occur in most sheets. Most typically, the carver, instead of doing the card he should have done, does the one next after it, or he does one a few spaces further ahead than that, but conceptually related to the one he should have done, such as doing one virtue instead of another. Copiers of medieval manuscripts made similar errors: it is known as haplography. The carver of the Cary sheet has made two or three such mis-orderings: compared to all other C orders, the Cary sheet has Hanged Man and Hermit switched, and has Strength three positions too early, as if the carver meant to carve Justice, but accidentally carved the other virtue, Strength. He may also have carved Pope where he meant to carve Popess. These mis-orderings on the block may be meaningless: it makes no difference to the deck of cards produced, in what order the cards were laid out on the block: it is just that they often are laid out in order, more or less, and this benefits us, the tarot nuts of half a millenium later.

Like the first five trumps, the last seven trumps show no variation at all in order within type C.
last seven RW590.jpg
last seven RW590.jpg (26.64 KiB) Viewed 1444 times
Putting it all together, we can say there is a consensus Italian C order. Viéville has it exactly, Susio only switches Popess and Empress; Piscina has it exactly but groups the four Imperatori e Papi together. Alciati only switched Strength and Chariot. The Cary sheet carver followed this Italian C order with two or three mistakes. These departures probably don't mean real variation in play. The Susio poem for example, puts Empress before Popess; no other C order does this. The actual rules of play at the time, are probably those indicated by the Piscina 1565 source; the four Imperatori e Papi are grouped together; they probably had equal rank, a rule known later in the Tarocco Bolognese. Susio was not giving the rules of a game, he was writing a satirical poem, which purported to be about 21 prostitutes. He described these working girls one after another, so he had to put them in some order. Even if the four cards were equal in play, so he didn't know the order from his own indulgence in cards, it was easy to guess that Pope outranked Emperor, and males outranked females [in 1550]. It was also easy to guess that since Pope outranked Emperor, Popess should outrank Empress. Easy but wrong. So I don't put any weight on Susio putting Empress first. Concerning Alciati's Latin poem, I think there is ambiguity in getting a trump order from these Latin sentences; He says Fortuna's wheel will always trump the victor's chariot, but we can't necessarily read from this that Chariot is immediately before Wheel. When we read these poems and try to derive an order from each one, there are small variations, but no variation occurs in more than one poem. I don't think this means that each Milan player used a slightly different order: that would make no sense in a game. In sum, I think Milan had some trump order that everyone knew and used, with the four Imperatori e Papi ranking equally, and I see no reason to think that any place in the northwest of Italy played tarocchi in any other way. Compared to this order, Geofroy switched the positions of Hermit and Strength, (Wheel is between them), and moved Justice to after Chariot.

Since the order started by Geofroy and later used in all of France, differs from the Italian C order as found in the poems, only in the range of trumps VII through XI, I will speak of common C order when I am talking about trumps outside of those. When I need to, I will distinguish Italian C order, from French C order.

The Cary sheet, as actually carved, differs from the Italian C order by having two or three things switched, and Geofroy differs from the Italian C order with two things switched, but completely different things than the Cary sheet. So there is nothing Geofroy-like about the Cary sheet's order. It is an Italian C-order deck, with typical departures from exact order in the carving, that may have meant nothing for play.


This will be followed by a post, which I will post as a reply to this one, on the differences between Jacques Viéville and Jean Noblet.

Re: Caitlin Geofroy, and the C order

I meant to include some references but I forgot.

Cary Sheet

Alciato poem :

Susio poem
Dummett's mention : ... cards.html
(this includes an excellent table by Marco Ponzi.)

A good reference by "mmfilesi" for many source documents concerning order is here:
but no link to an online text of Piscina. I will look more.

Catelin Geofroy
700 px images : ... 1557-lyon/

Anonymous Parisian BnF calls this deck 1600-1650

Jacques Viéville BnF calls this deck 1650

Re: Caitlin Geofroy, and the C order

mikeh wrote:
13 Nov 2018, 03:42
How did you get to that url, Ludophone? Google doesn't take me ther.. I have been wanting to access certain tarotpedia pages for months. I notice that "web.archive" is the first part of the url. Is there some magic way of getting to such places?
I installed an add-on of the Wayback Machine for Firefox (I assume it exists on Chrome too). Then I use this forum's internal search function to look for tarotpedia and my target subject. I click on the link which opens to an empty tab then I click on the WM's icon and select Recent Version.

Re: Caitlin Geofroy, and the C order

sandyh wrote:
10 Nov 2018, 20:15
In 1557, more than a century after the Trionfi cards were first invented, Catelin Geofroy, a cartier of Lyon, set out to print and sell decks of tarot cards in France, the first to do so, I believe.
Although I was interested in the book cited below primarily as a means of understanding the milieu that produced the Sola Busca, these passages might illuminate Lyon in an overall publishing context, particularly of Italian works. Regarding the Venetian publisher Aldus’ “octavo classics” and their publication of Dante’s Comedy without Landino’s commentary, then pirated in Lyon:
Aldus’s octavo classics were a cannily conceived and marketed venture. They exuded an aura of exclusivity: Aldus dedicated these editions to patrician Venetians and scholar-diplomats, men such as Marin Sanudo, Antonio Morosini, and Sigismund Thurz;….In the preface to his 1514 reprint of Virgil, Aldus reveals that the small format had been inspired by books in Bembo’s private library. The Aldine octavos enjoyed an enormous success. Despite the fact that both Aldus and Carlo Bembo (Pietro’s brother) had successfully petitioned the Venetian senate for privileges – the former for his new italic type, the latter for protection from the copying of his recently discovered manuscripts ‘scripti de mano propria de ipsi Petrarcha et Dante,’ which were to serve as the basis for the Aldine editions – pirated copies of the publishers titles surfaced immediately. Augustin Renouard lists sixty-four pirated editions of Aldine titles published in Lyon between 1501 and 1527, largely by Barthelmy Troth and Balthar de Gabiano.” (Deborah Parker, Commentary and ideology : Dante in the Renaissance, 1993: 140)
It would be interesting to know the relationship of Geofroy and the other printers in Lyon.

A little further in the same work, the Florentine printer Filippo Giunti’s 1506 Florentine edition of the Comedy, ignoring Aldus trademark protections, is touched on; note that he represents an early Florentine connection to the printing sphere in Lyon, perhaps serving as the intermediary between Venice and Lyon:
No edition of the Comedy was printed between the 1506 Giunti edition and the 1572 publication of Vincenzo Buonanni’s commentary to the Inferno in Florence….Filippo Giunti was one of Florence’s most influential and established printers. In addition to their Florentine branch, the Giunti also had printing establishments in Venice, Lyon and Spain.” (ibid, 141)
Between 1545 and 1554, nine editions of the poem [Comedy] were published. Following the Inquisition’s 1559 Prohibited Book Index, with lesser competition the theology-inclined Dante boom continued. (ibid 145).

Lyon is covered in more depth on pp146-147; a couple of excerpts:
Not surprisingly this change [re-adding commentary to the Comedy] was first introduced outside of Venice – in Lyon – where readers of Italian works had different needs. The Dantes printed by two distinguished Lyonnais bookmen, Jean de Tournes [1554 – two years before Geofroy’s Lyonnais tarot] and Guillaume Rouille’, set the standard for editions of the Comedy for roughly thirty years…..[Lyon] became a kind of gateway to Italy, which witnessed much troop movement into Italy…. (ibid, 146)

What might we conclude from this reintegration of commentary? The decision seems driven by the needs of readers in Lyon for some kind of glossing. Although the city had a large Italian population, de Tourne’s and Rouille’s editions were aimed largely at local humanists, noblemen, their wives, and university students. (ibid, 147)

This may be nothing more than background noise, but at least sheds light on inter-city publishing trends and the possible (intermediary) means of diffusion of works. It might also point to a major segment of the market for tarot as the same consumers of humanists works exemplified by Dante - humanists, noblemen, university students and possibly even soldiers stationed and/or passing through the city. Undoubtedly it is occupied Milan that played a major role in tarot’s diffusion, but that information has already been discussed here in some detail, so consider the above as complementary data.

Finally, let me add the caveat that I am in no way saying the above has anything whatsoever to do with my Dante and Florentine 1440 ur-tarot theory – even if my theory is correct, the link was forgotten remarkably fast by the time of the Cinquecento. I’m merely pointing out tarot must have been understood as a specifically Italian game, even a moralizing game (e.g., Piscina's 1565 Discorso, notwithstanding gambling being a vice), and may have enjoyed a popular printing rebirth with the printing boom of Dante and other Italian humanist texts in Lyon, particularly in the 1550s when Geofroy publishes his tarot.


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 19 guests