Re: News and Updates

Huck wrote:There's a new article to a new finding of Franco Pratesi, this time about an user of playing cards called Trionfi and it's the earliest (5 August 1451) known common-people-user, a notary Ser Giovanni Bandini with not very much income.

"A dì detto per 1° paio di trionfi per mio spasso s. 12"

He bought one pair of cards for his own fun and he paid 12 Soldi.

Thanks for the notification Huck! Franco continues to surprise us. Imagine what we could do with a team of researchers.

During the editorial work it was noted, that we know not enough, what else one could get for 12 Soldi in 1451. So that's surely a theme.
Franco does note that "the cost of these cards is comparable with the cost of a piece of bread with some meat acquired together."

That sounds like lunch to me. Even today, I can buy a pack of Tarot cards - playing kind - for between 6 and 10 euros, which is in roughly in line with the price of a plate of meat and frites (chips, french fries), and of course always comes with some bread in France.

Also a list was made, which includes all new documents, which have appeared in the last year since November 2011 in the period 1440-1462. There are 65 new entries, 63 found by Franco Pratesi, one by Thierry Depaulis (oldest Trionfi document 1440), another one by Veber Gulinelli, who controlled the Franceschini records, and found one, which was overlooked (1460).

Earlier existed something between 31-35 (it depends, how one counts them). 27-28 were collected in 2003, mainly on base of Ortalli's work "Prince and the playing cards" for the period 1442-1463), 4 were added in the meantime 2004-2011. Roughly estimated we have won 200% more documents (for the mentioned period) in the last-year-period 2011-2012 ... and the number of all documents (for the mentioned period) is near to "100".
Very useful summary, thank you.

Re: News and Updates

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: Franco does note that "the cost of these cards is comparable with the cost of a piece of bread with some meat acquired together."

That sounds like lunch to me. Even today, I can buy a pack of Tarot cards - playing kind - for between 6 and 10 euros, which is in roughly in line with the price of a plate of meat and frites (chips, french fries), and of course always comes with some bread in France.
... :-) ... Franco is a very good researcher, but human. That means , that occasionally something runs wrong. In this case I've not his opinion. 12 Soldi, that's not just a lunch.

Meat seems to have been rather expensive, luxury, you would have paid 20-21 denari for 1 libbre = 339.5 gr. as an average in 1450 in Florence. 12 Soldi are 144 denari, roughly it's 7 x 350 = 2450 gr or roughly 2.5 Kg.

More common and cheaper is grano, and you get for 16 Soldi ca. 18 kg in 1450. Which means, that you get for 12 Soldi ca. 13.5 kg.
100 gr. Grano have about 320 kcal, so 1 kg has 3200 kcal and that's something, with which two grown up person could survive 1 day. Italians are not so tall and persons in 1500 were not tall, too. So maybe 2.5 or even 3 persons could survive a day with 1 kg grano. With 13.5 kg grano you have naturally 13.5 days for 2.5 - 3 persons.

Meat has less calories than grano, and especially 2,5 kg meat have much less kcal than 13.5 kg grano. So meat is luxury.

In any way, 12 soldi is not the price for a dinner of common people.

Re: News and Updates

Franco seems to know exactly the comparison he is making. For Ser Giovanni Bandini's entries, he calculates the average of each entry at about 30 soldi. He characterizes the entries as:

"The expenses are mostly associated with food. Logically, each element acquired is not individually recorded, so that we find reasonable combinations of two to four elements among bread, meat, chickens, pigeons, eggs, sausages, lasagne, and so on. Sometimes we find firewood, shoes, or one of a few other items. The impression is that all expenses were limited to cover the most essential needs" and the trionfi purchase is just "a single item among so many similar short entries of various goods acquired for personal use, most just for everyday nourishment."

Notaries were well-paid professionals, so 12 soldi seems like not much of an expense for him.

The comparison of buying lunch with buying primary foodstuffs like wheat and meat at a butchers isn't very fair. Cards, like going out to eat, are not a daily expense, not a necessity. I can buy a kilo of flour (I don't even have to grind the wheat myself) for 50 cents, so 10 kilos for 5 euros. I can make 5 200 gram baguettes for 50 cents plus the cost of the yeast, a bit of a salt, and whatever it takes to heat the oven. A baguette of 200 grams costs about 80 cents in a store, because of the costs to the bakers and the (small) profit they take (the real profit comes with their luxury items, pies (tarts), pastries, cakes, etc.).

Similarly with meat, a kilo of chicken breasts costs about 8 euros, a kilo of beef 12-15 euros or higher. But you don't eat a kilo of meat all at once. At a restaurant, say for lunch, you get about 250 grams of meat, and half a baguette (100 grams). And this costs between 10 and 15 euros, just like a pack of Tarot cards.

Of course you don't eat lunch at restaurants every day (most people don't anyway) and you don't buy packs of Tarot cards every day either.

I think you're arguing a strawman - you think I'm saying that Tarot cards were dirt cheap, so that even a peasant could buy packs for pennies. Nobody is suggesting that. Tarot cards have never been that cheap. No cards have been in fact, especially in the days of artisanal production methods. Laying out 10 or 20 euros for either lunch or a pack of cards is not something people do without thinking. But nobody would argue that 15 euros isn't "cheap" - it is damn cheap for a retail item upon which taxes and profits are overlaid, and that you buy, at most, once or twice a year.

On the other hand, you yourself seem to be arguing that we should consider 12 soldi a luxurious price, which it most definitely is not. Certainly not for an urban professional like Ser Giovanni.

Re: News and Updates

Note also the same price in 1442 - 12 soldi 3 denari, for Marchione Burdochio's pack of trionfi. This must have also had tax, profit, and artisanal workmanship. So what was the cost to Marchione from the manufacturer? Maybe 6 soldi.

I'm not sure of the exchange rate between Ferrarese and Florentine soldi, however, but the distance of a decade shouldn't have to include much inflation if everything else is equal (i.e. what a soldo could buy in 1442, it could very nearly buy in 1451, presumably).

Re: News and Updates

What seems remarkable to me is that the relative prices of things like basic foodstuffs and cards is about the same today as then!

For the price of a pack of common Tarot cards, about 10 euros, I can buy 20 kilos of flour, 1 kilo of pork, 9 litres of wine, etc. So it seems that the relative prices of these things remains the same.

I suppose it must be coincidence. There can't be some kind of law of ratios between the prices of necessities like food and wine and luxuries like playing cards, can there?

Re: News and Updates

Looking through the old documents, I find for 1454 and the special Trionfi card production in Ferrara with the involvement of three persons at the page .....

1454 [3 August - payment to Obizo the Saracen for gold and silver leaf for trionfi and playing cards]
Obizo spiciale al Saraxino in Ferara de avere adi III de agosto lire tre, soldi quatro de marchesani per lo precio de infrascrite robe per dito date a dum Messore per dipinzere carte da trinoffi et da zugare per la guardaroba de lo Signore:

Per peze zento de oro fino batudo…………………….. …………L. 2.10.
Per peze zento de arzento batudo fino ……………………………L. 0. 8.
Per onze una de verde azuro ………………………………………L. 0. 6.
Dato per mandato no. _____………………………………………L. III. IIII.
1454 [22 August – record of payment to Giovanni di Lazzaro (=Zohane/Giovanni Cagnolo) for work from 1 February to 20 April]
B(orsius) DUX
Illustrissime et excellentissime domine domine mi singularissime, Acio la Illustrissima et Ducale Signoria Vostra sapie cuomo Zohanne de Lazaro dipintore adimanda de volere esse pagato per lo tempo lui ha lavorato inseme cum dum Messore in la Corte vostra per fare carte da trionfi, prencipiando adi primo de febraro per fina da 20 de aprile de l'anno presente, et visto et examinado per mi Galeoto che dito Messore et dito Zohanne ànno fato conpido de tuto para undize de carte in dito tempo, che sono mixi dui et di XX, de le qual para XI mi ho limitado che dito Messore abie fato lavorero quanto sia per para sete de carte e dito Zohanne per para quatro, le qual para 4 fate per dito Zohanne a mi pare ge vigneria libre oto per zascuno paro; computà che siano fate attute sue spexe montaria in tuto ………………………. L. 32.
1454 [6 September – payment to Giovanni di Lazzaro (= Zohane / Giovanni Cagnolo)]
Zohane de Lazaro dipintore de avere lire 21, soldi 2 per resto de lo ammontare de para 4 de carte da trionfi lui ha fate a lire 8 per paro, fano lire 32, de le quale ne abate lire 8 per le spexe de bocha auto dala corte in mixi 2 e di 20, in ragione de lire 3 per mexe, e se abate lire 2, soldi 18 per colori lui à (a)vuti per fare dite carte, che in tuto fano lire 10, soldi 18, che se abate de lire 32, resta lire 21, soldi 2…
Looking through the texts of Veber Gulinelli ...

... I find two documents mentioned, but both are not included in the collection: ...



Possibly these both dropped out of our field of attention, cause they hadn't the Trionfi word. But I would assume, that both belonged to the same commission, and it might be useful to include them. In the Filippo di Marco we have also documents, where the word is missing, but they are helpful to understand the situation.

Re: News and Updates

Another observation of the Veber Gulinelli text, something, which I earlier miscalculated or considered or remembered wrong:

The IMPORTANT 1457 document with 70 cards note:
Maestro Girardo de Andrea da Vizenza dipintore de avere adi 21 de luglio per sua fatura et spesa d'oro fino, coluri, de avere depinto para due de carte grande da trionfi, che sono carte 70 per zogo, le quale sono mese d'oro fitamente, et fate tute de coluri fini et brunide, et depinte de roverso uno paro rosa, uno paro verde. Le quale ebe Piedro de Schiveto per uxo de lo Signore ; de quale dito dimanda ducati 8 del paro, a soldi 56 per ducato, fano lire 22, soldi 8 ; et Galioto li tasa lire 28. Se n'abate soldi 2 per lira, sono 2, soldi 16; resta suo credito…L.25.4.
You translated:
Maestro Gerardo di Andrea da Vicenza, painter, having the 21st day of July, for his making and expense in fine gold, coloured, for having painted two packs of big triumph cards, which are 70 cards per deck, covered thickly with gold, and made entirely of colours fine and rich, and painted on the reverse one pack red, one pack green. The which had Piedro de Schiveto for the use of the Lord; the which said [Gerardo] asked 8 ducats per pack, at 56 soldi per ducat, totalling 22 lire, 8 soldi; and Galeotto the tax 28 lire. Subracting 2 soldi per lira, which is 2, 16 soldi; remains to his credit … L. 25. 4.
Gulinelli reads nearly the same:


... and thankfully presents a picture of the passage, on which I marked the important 70 and the word Trionfi ...


Now I recently learned something about money in Florence recently and also my understanding of Italian has grown a little bit ... earlier I assumed, that the would have a value of 11-12 Lira Marchesana as other Ferrarese decks in the highest category.
But now I see ...

"8 ducato per deck" and 8 ducato (=fiorini d'oro in Firence) for56 Soldi each are transfered (8*56/20 = 22.4) to 22 Lira Marchesana, 8 Soldi, so precisely that, what's in the document, but it is not a total price for 2 decks, but for one.

Then comes a somehow strange calculation, which I don't understand completely ...
totalling 22 lire, 8 soldi; and Galeotto the tax 28 lire. Subracting 2 soldi per lira, which is 2, 16 soldi; remains to his credit … L. 25. 4.
... but I understand, that ...

22 Lira, 8 Soldi (= 448 Soldi) are 80% of 28 Lira (= 560 Soldi)
25 Lira, 4 Soldi (= 504 Soldi) are 90% of 28 Lira (= 560 Soldi)

... and somehow this must be the mystery of this taxation. Possibly 10% reduced price "for Borso", possibly 10% tax.

But if assume, that this is a single deck price, then this is the highest price of all Trionfi decks commissioned by Leonello or Borso, which we know of. About 100% higher than the other high-priced decks. Perhaps there is an reading error about the "8 decks per pack"?

Re: News and Updates

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:It is a very high price indeed, but as both Franceschini and Gulinelli read "ducati", then I think there can be no error of reading.

If they were intended as gifts for the visiting prince Galeazzo (there is no evidence they were), then I guess such an extravagant price would not be out of the question.
Sorry, I forgot the pictures.

Yes, the basic situation doesn't contradict ... this is a very special opportunity.

But nonetheless it's astonishing, that just this deck got a special structural description. "70 cards" ... nowhere else in the Ferrarese documents we get this information.
Well, the Ferrarese knew their cards, they needn't to describe them. But in 1457 a Milanese guest is expected, and - as the high price tells us - the guest got special attention.
Let's assume, that in Milan was played with another number of trumps as in Milan, 16, 20, 21 or 22, whatever, against a 5x14 structure used in Milan.

In such a case the "70 cards" note would get meaning. It's a polite act against the guest, that he can play with cards, as he is used to.

Going back to 1.1. 1441, there was again a Milanese guest in Ferrara, and she gets "14 figure".

And the basic assumption, that there must have been a 5x14-deck is based on a Milanese deck, the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi with its two artist.

So we would have 3x indications of 5x14-structure ... but all from Milan. Florentine deliver no information about the structue, but finally we get Minchiate from them, and this expression exists already 1466. But in the international trade the expression Minchiate doesn't appear (no import notes in Rome. Possibly Trionfi from Florence were occasionally Minchiate in Florence, but Trionfi from Florence were simply Trionfi.

Milan, Ferrara, Venice and Florence were not simply Italy but different states. and this difference in Italy is still active, they have more "local differences" than we have for instance in Germany.

Re: News and Updates

A new article of Franco Pratesi at ...

Report about a sort of gaming club with relations to institutions of the church in Florence, with detailed lists of bought decks (and the used decks were sold back to the producer).
Clear evidence, that Minchiate was then rather popular in the Florence of ...
Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany ... of_Tuscany


... who possibly was also involved in the production of the Minchiate Francesi.

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