Here I’d like to recap those points and then posit a connection between a likely commissioner of the Stuttgart deck and the Visconti.
First of all a quick summary of the relevant decks:
Stuttgart, c. 1430, "Upper Rhine"
52 cards, 13 card suits
Suits: Falcons, Ducks, Hounds, Stags
Court cards: King. Upper Knave, Lower Knave
Pips: Banner (10), 9-1.
Ambras Courtly Hunt, c. 1440-45, Basel (where JvR was published, although he hailed from just north of there in Freiburg im Breisgau)
56 cards: 14 card suits
Suits: Falcons, Herons, Hounds, Lures
Court cards: King, Queen, Upper Knave, Lower Knave
Pips: Banner (10), 9-1.
Courtly Household, c. 1450 "Upper Rhine"
48: 12 card suits
Suits: Arms of Germany, Bohemia, Hungary and France
Court cards: King and Queen
Pips: Master of Household (10), 9-1 are court functionaries down through "fool".
The Courtly Household deck is an outlier due to its idiosyncrasies of nationalities for the suits and different functionaries for the pips instead of varying numbers of the same animal/lure, so can likely be ruled out as an influence.
At all events, per Saint Bernardino, I assume 14 card suits for Italian to which Marziano would have been predisposed eve if he had a 13 suit Stuttgart deck.
And what of the King and pips - does Marziano necessarily imply 1 + 10? In fact both the Stuttgart and Ambras feature a banner as the 10th card, versus showing 10 individual animals. In fact the Stuttgart shows the King holding a banner, demonstrating an iconographic connection between the "10" pip and the King....so its not much a stretch to see the 10th pip as a singular image - the king. Thus King-10th pip + nine pips of birds. Below, the 10-pip/banner and king, both for the suit of ducks (the king's duck is in the stream below):
One further suspicion that the deck in Visconti's possession was a Stuttgart-type deck is not only that it is the closest in time to Marziano's deck, but it pairs 3 female court cards for two of the suits with 3 male court cards for the other two suits, perhaps the impetus for the later CY which has both genders among the courts - 3 males and 3 females (granted, all 6 in each suit). Furthermore, all of the CY queens (albeit the queen of cups is missing) - have a lady-in-waiting crowding up to their laps just as the animals rear up the laps of the queens in the Stuttgart.
The king with banner of the Stuttgart deck taking the place of the 10th pip-banner spot would be iconographically unsurprising, and thus the king in lieu of the 10th pip in Marziano's deck (each king undoubtedly featured his bird somewhere, so a clear option would have been the king holding a banner with a eagle, turtledove, dove or, phoenix). At all events, Marziano cleared out the normal court persons for his sexdecim heroum split up among the four suits - so to have a king in an intermediary realm outside the normal court and pips made no sense – the king has to be in one or the other, thus moved to the pips.
But why would the Visconti be prone to have any version of the German type decks? The most logical hypothesis would be their intermarriage with German princes and that German’s family links to one of these luxury types.
Regarding the original commissioner of the c. 1430 Stuttgart deck we know nothing, but the place of manufacture is identified as “southern Germany” with the only ventured specific being Swabia (see the brief entry on the World of Playing Cards: https://www.wopc.co.uk/germany/stuttgart ). The capital of Swabia is Stuttgart, the court city of the County of Württemberg. The first notice of the Stuttgart cards was they were in the possession of the Dukes of Bavaria in 1598, and then in the hands of the Württemberg by 1653, arguably because they recognized their coat of arms within the deck (more on that below). Just to be clear, the deck is called “Stuttgart” because they happen to be in that museum – not because anyone ever stated they were made by the family that ruled Stuttgart (but I’m postulating that here, based on the heraldic detail).
Why does Stuttgart and Württemberg matter? Bernabo Visconti’s grand strategy for alliances with the Holy Roman Empire (and France as well), partially in order to be invested with the imperial ducal title of Milan (which Giangaleazzo was able to do), succeeded with the following four daughters (listed below in the order of their births):
Taddea Visconti (1351 - 1381) married Stephen III, Duke of Bavaria (1337 – 1413), of the dominant House of Wtittelsbach, and was mother of Isabeau of Bavaria, wife of Charles VI of France. He opposed the Luxembourg and Tyrol branches of the family but that doesn’t seem to concern us here.
Antonia Visconti (c. 1364 Milan – 26 March 1405, Stuttgart) married Eberhard III of Württemberg (‘the Clement’) (1364 –1417, ruled 1392-1417), in 1380, ruling as Countess and Count of Württemberg, then a part of the Holy Roman Empire (became a Duchy in 1495). They had had 3 sons, the surviving one succeeding the father as Eberhard IV (1388-1419). The son Eberhard IV became engaged to Henriette of Mömpelgard in 1397 and married in 1407 at which time the county of Mömpelgard – although located somewhat remotely from Swabia just west of Basle, become part of Württemberg. After Antonia died, Eberhard III remarried (Elisabeth of Nuremberg) in 1412. At that time, it is likely that Eberhard III wanted to assure Visconti of continuing good relations, that his own half-Visconti son was still heir apparent, and also to congratulate Filippo of becoming duke in 1412, the same year as the second marriage.
Maddalena Visconti (1366 –1404) Duchess of Bavaria-Landshut by her marriage to Frederick, Duke of Bavaria-Landshut divided in 1392, when Bavaria-Landshut was reduced since Bavaria-Ingolstadt and Bavaria-Munich were created for his brothers.
Elisabetta Visconti (1374 –1432), Ernest of Bavaria-Munich (German: Ernst, Herzog von Bayern-München), (1373 –1438), from 1397 Duke of Bavaria-Munich.
Although the three daughters married into the House of Wittesbach is intriguing, what interests us here is Antonia’s marriage to Eberhard III of Württemberg as that house can be associated with the Stuttgart deck along heraldic lines. Given the Stuttgart deck is dated to c. 1430 it would have been produced by either of Antonia Visconti’s grandsons, Ludwig I (1412 -1450) or Ulrich V of (1413 – 1480) who partitioned Württemberg between them (Ludwig received the part of Urach with the territories in the south and the west of the county, including the territories in Alsace, near Basle – perhaps having a deck made there?). Ludwig, after a regency period, first ruled alone in 1426 through 1433 and either occasion might have been cause for celebratory productions such as a luxury deck and fall close enough to the c. 1430 date proposed for the deck.
So what is it about the Stuttgart deck that says “Württemberg”? The various colors on the banners look generic as in the Sforza De sphaera manuscript with the armies parading on its pages (although I grant they may relate to individual fiefs), but the primary symbol of the coat of arms of Württemberg is displayed in the suit of stags, albeit it in a slightly disguised manner, on both the highest court card – the Queen – and on the highest pip card, the banner (“10”). Württemberg’s symbol is three individual deer antlers, black, against a yellow/gold background, as displayed on the shield of Ulrich V in the painting below:
Neither the yellow nor detached individual antlers are present in the Stuttgart cards, but that is easily explained as the suit’s animals are naturally depicted and thus the antlers as outgrowths of actual stags (not detached and displayed in parallel). What is unusual is the flattening of the antlers – versus being naturally upright - in notable cases of the queen and banner. In some of the pips the antlers seem flattened to make room for them at the top of those cards, and one might make the same case for the long but vertically short banner card, but it makes the stag’s antlers there look windswept. More importantly, a banner would normally serve a heraldic purpose. On the Queen there is no explanation other than trying to make the antlers – horizontal and in the same direction to the right – match the Württemberg wappen. Contrasting the female “upper knave/dame”, where the stag is rampant like the queen’s stag, one notes its antlers are naturally vertical, but the queen’s stag’s antlers are swept horizontally to the right and one can only guess it is because she rules the suit of stags and the family wanted their arms depicted there with the suit’s ruler (for similar reasons it is on the banner, highest of the pips). The objection that the arms show three horizontal antlers, not two, is disposed of with the same explanation that the stags are depicted as naturally as possible (sans the cases of horizontal antlers). What else can explain the idiosyncratic flattening of the antlers on key cards if not the Württemberg arms, especially on the queen card where there is plenty of vertical space?
Finally, did the Württemberg house recognize the Visconti connection? Eberhard III of Württemberg appears with his councilors in a copy of a c. 1400 manuscript (when Antonia Visconti was still alive) on a folio leaf full of German coats of arms, including the Württemberg antlers of course, which appear at least three times - upper left corner of the building frame, hanging from the suspended candelabra, and by a seated family noble on the right:
There are three other coats of arms on the privileged ceiling candelabra hanging high above the proceedings, in addition to the Württemberg arms – one of them is the Visconti biscione (the German artist reversed the snake, but the family identification is clear). Eberhard III of Württemberg, ruler of a mere county, was naturally proud of his relationship with the powerful duke of Milan. There was no reason I can find that either him, his son, nor grandsons wished to sever that relationship, other than Giangaleazzo having displaced the father-in-law, Bernarbo. But Giangaleazzo was dead now at the time of Eberhard's remarrying after Antonia’s passing (she died in 1405) to a fellow German in 1412, and that could have been the impetus for confirming relations with Milan, of which a luxury deck would be a diplomatic gift, particularly in the year of Filippo’s own accession to the duchy. I’m not suggesting the c. 1430 Stuttgart deck was exact in its details of whatever might have arrived in Milan in c. 1412, but rather the basic format: birds were more than likely among the suits (even herons and winged lures are in the Ambras) and the banner in lieu of the 10 pip (also in the Ambras) as well as kings holding banners, allowing that conflation for a king as the 10 card in Marziano.
I should also add this: it has been speculated that the translation into German of Albertus Magnus' De animalibus, a Latin treatise on hunting, for Elector of the Palatine Ludwig III in 1404, sparked the craze for hunting decks: "Perhaps it was during this period, when hunting became an obsession with the nobility of Swabia and southwestern Germany, that suit symbols related to the hunt were introduced" (Timothy B. Husband, The World in Play - Luxury Cards, 1430-1540, 2016: 16). 1404 to 1412 allows 8 years for German luxury hunting deck production and for one of them to make its way to Milan. Marziano uniquely makes all the suits birds, but a hunting deck surely planted the idea (for there are no birds in an alternative like Mamluk playing cards).
Finally, if the Württemberg coat of arms look familiar, Porsche is located in Stuttgart: