Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#11
My research is hardly existent at this point (hence the post in the speculative unicorn terrace). Most of the virtue and vice preaching was based on a 13th century manual by the Dominican William Peraldus. The triumph illustration in the original manuscript is not an iconographic source, since it shows a single knight armed with the seven virtues defeating seven demonic and painstakingly subdivided vices. But it does show that this style of religious exercise is complex enough to be a source for the trumps. Peraldus's intent for the work was scholarly, but preachers in the next few centuries liked it because it showed the vices as ordinary acts in ordinary situations, thereby providing lots for vivid examples for use. Large numbers of these sermons are preserved; but htey have not been well surveyed. I'll be digging into the few surveys published so far.

The situations with prints not a lack of publication, but a lack of prints in the right era. There are a lot of examples of woodblock in movable type printed books, a practice that flourished from 1480s to the end of the 1500s; but earlier unaccompanied woodblocks are very rare. The strategy I'll be using is to find out as much as possible about the card and print making business in this early era. In essence, the purpose is to find constraints that eliminate as many possible sources for the trump images as possible

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#12
Jim Schulman wrote:Much as I appreciate a lesson in logic, I was actually hoping the post would elicit more about the milieu and practices of early woodblock printers. This would seem an area of knowledge useful to tarot historians. I guess I'll have to put in some library hours.
Well, the material is thin in this question of the early woodcut printers.
From Venice we hear, that there is the complaint, that Venice had earlier a printing mystery to produce cards, but that this mystery went to others, and so one has to protect the own market with prohibitions against import. This seems to be from the edict from 1441. 1441 was a year, when the peace started, so war activities changed to trade problems. Visconti had cut off Brescia and Verona for some time and endangered the related trading way, which seems to have caused very high "Italian paper" prices in Germany. which immediately did fall with the end of the war. Germany had own paper, but Italian paper seems to have been still necessary.
From Franco Pratesi's new articles we have the category FOR (in the Tables) , which stands for "a forma" and this expression is interpreted as "printed cards". This category appears very rarely in 1440 and 1442 at the Naibi dealer sale's list ...
http://trionfi.com/naibi-silk-dealers
... and also at the acquirement list ...
http://trionfi.com/naibi-aquired
... in the table of the Various Suppliers 1442-1443-1444 and at the table of Niccolo di Calvello (twice in 1443).

Niccolo di Calvello is the "cheapest" and "most productive" provider, at least for the silk dealer. His sales have very stable prices, and there are very much sales. One of the price for the decks, which are commented with FOR (without any other attribute), is unusual, 1.19, the other price is normal (1.67) and is given with the attribute MEZ for "middle" size instead of PIC (piccolo, small) or GRA for "grande" (big). MEZ decks are rare. So for both sales we get the indirect information, that the category FOR was not standard ... in the time 1440 - 1444.

In later tables the category FOR doesn't appear ... this might have two reasons. Either "FOR" as "a forma = printing" as technology disappeared, but this seems not logical, or - second possibility - FOR became standard for all cheap decks, and the silk dealers were too lazy to mark this quality in their account books after 1444.

There are further observations to this point. From the numbers, which we have of Florentine and Ferrarese card developments, which are naturally only "selection by research activities" and "not necessarily representative", we perceive a "production valley" ...

Image


... here presented by the silk dealers buying list.

The years 1446-1447 have the lowest numbers and I relate this to an information about intensive playing card prohibition in Pistoia at Florentine territory by a Florentine governor. If this is related to a general stronger prohibition of playing card use phase in 1445-1447 for Florence and possibly also elsewhere (Pope Eugen promoted the Franciscans and Franciscans fought intensively against modern customs like playing cards; Pope Eugen was a strong pope in just this period), then this phenomenon might relate to the increased printing progress.

If printing became standard, it should have lowered the production costs, and decks became cheaper and especially more more people played ... especially dangerous for the behavior of the lower class persons, who shouldn't spend their time with playing, but should work bravely for the favor of the people, who had hired them. This naturally had to be avoided, and so the prohibition was increased as a reaction on the change in the society. Prohibition has its limitations and soon the market returned (1447 ... interestingly after the deaths of Pope Eugen and of Filippo Maria Visconti - the archenemy of Florence). But somehow the prices stayed stable, so that poor people still had difficulties to buy those decks ... I personally could imagine, that a sort of tax was used to keep the lowest price under control (a confirmation for this is missing). Indeed we have some "price disturbing" decks in the decks of Niccolo di Calvello in a period after 1447. In his list (generally):

Scempi decks are always around 1 Soldi, the basis price for Scempi seems to have been 24 decks for 25 Soldi. The basic price for Doppi is 1.67 (24 decks for 40 Soldi), but could also have been 1.58 (24 decks for 38 Soldi) or 1.83 (24 decks for 44 Soldi; this price was commented once in 1445 commented with FIN = "fine cards", which possibly means, that these had an increased quality). Doppi for 1.67 must be considered to have had the size PIC, which seems to have been standard for cardmaker Niccolo di Calvello with the lowest prices.

But there is a short time, (1448/01 - 1450/07) when he offered Doppi for 1 Soldi (a dramatic fall in the price) ... this seems to be a time, when something was cheaper. In the same period he sells twice MEZ Doppi deck for 1.67 (Doppi was usually 1.67 for the size PIC) and he has also a type, which is sold for 2.00 Soldi (GRA ?).

This second "very low" price line (which somehow exists parallel to his other products) is difficult to interpret. Possibly he delivered only black on white prints, which was bought by other card producers, who painted the colors? The silk dealers might have exported these to other cities. But soon a playing card printer would have known these other card producers in other cities, and might have spared the silk dealers as helpers. The whole relation between silk dealers and Niccolo di Calvello stops in 1456, and the silk dealers leave the market for very cheap decks. And they generally seem to stop any focus on playing cards in 1460.

The second price appears only 8 times and and relates to 312 decks, so 8-9% of the decks, which he sold to the silk dealers. But it might have been still Niccolo di Calvello's major business later, cause Niccolo, (the expert for the cheap decks) possibly had changed his role in the business.

******************

Well, possibly the silk dealers list indicates, that printing as standard for cheap decks in Florence developed in a hasty process in the 1440s (maybe 1443-1450). We have earlier notes of printing material for playing cards in Florence in 1430s (for Ferrara in 1437), but it's a question to which degree it was standard. You need specific cutting tools to make moulds. If the whole production process was kept as a mystery, one wouldn't get the insights about the used technology easily. Private attempts to imitate known mould might have led to results of lower quality, which weren't accepted by the market.
And it's a question to which degree the technology was used for Trionfi cards. The creation of a mould takes some money and possibly a lot of hours, if you're not used to it. So you need some investment and you attempt it only, if you've a sort of guarantee, that you would really sell a specific quantity of decks with it. But if a game is new, you don't have the guarantee. From all this there might have been printed Trionfi card experiments in the 1450s, but not in the 1440s or earlier. And a somehow sure number (with the guarantee of woodcut use) we see only with the "309 decks" in the custom register of Rome in the 1460s.
Well, and in the general art we have examples of woodcut technology in Florence since begin of the 1460s.

Franco Pratesi found also the earliest Trionfi decks in the customs register of Rome (in the book of Esch).
http://trionfi.com/triunfi-playing-cards-rome
1453. Giovanni da Pistoia:
"12 immagine di legnio e 8 paia de triunfi da giochare";
dog.: 36 bol. (=10 duc.); reg. 48, fol. 45v, luglio.
It's not clear, what "12 immagine di legnio2 means ("legnio" indicates "wood").

But my impression is, that there are "8 Triunfi decks" as an example, how one could paint pictures printed by the 12 immagine di legnio (which either were used to make a full Trionfi deck, or were used to make just 12 trump cards, which were used to transform a usual 48-cards-deck to a 5x12 deck with totally 60 cards (a 5x12 deck is known for this early time from the master E.S. in Germany, so it wouldn't have been very unusual).

Big moulds with many pictures were difficult to make and difficult to repair if damaged, smaller pictures are more easy to replace, and would be - if the success of a deck form isn't a guarantee - the cheaper investment.

Another moulds document we've in the trial of Filippo di Marco against one of his helpers in 1463:
http://trionfi.com/cardmakers-woodblock-trial
Filippo di Marco was definitely a Trionfi card maker ...
http://trionfi.com/filippo-di-marco
... but its not clear, when he started to use moulds.
He definitely had money difficulties in 1463.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#13
Huck wrote: From Venice we hear, that there is the complaint, that Venice had earlier a printing mystery to produce cards, but that this mystery went to others, and so one has to protect the own market with prohibitions against import. This seems to be from the edict from 1441.
...If the whole production process was kept as a mystery, one wouldn't get the insights about the used technology easily. Private attempts to imitate known mould might have led to results of lower quality, which weren't accepted by the market.
A correction about this word "mystery". It isn't there. This is a wrong translation of the word "mestier" (cognate with French métier (>mestier)), which means a craft, profession, job, etc. This mistranslation has been current in English for nearly 200 years at least; the earliest I can find is William Young Ottley in 1816 (An Enquiry into the Origin and Early History of Engraving, p. 47, "Whereas the art and mystery of making cards and printed figures...")
http://books.google.fr/books?id=DZlQAAA ... ds&f=false


http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/book ... rds-74.jpg - for a larger version

This Venetian document was first published in 1766, in the Raccolta di lettere sulla pittura sculture ed architettura (usually cited by the shorter collective name of Lettere Pittoriche), edited by Giovanni Gaetano Bottari, volume 5 p. 321, noted by Ottley, Singer, Chatto etc.
http://archive.org/details/raccoltadilette05bottgoog


http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/book ... e5-341.jpg

Bottari's edition thus has -

"l'arte & mestier delle carte" (Temanza 1766 - thus quoted in English sources like Singer 1816, Chatto 1839)

In Leopoldo Cicognara's influential (Memorie spettanti alla storia della calcografia (1831), p. 236, an error crept in, where "l'arte" was replaced by "carte" - I don't know if any English translations follow this apparent mistake, but Steele quotes it as such in his Archaeologia article in 1900.
http://books.google.fr/books?id=lO5AAAA ... 22&f=false


http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/book ... 31-239.jpg
(image is conflation of text from pages 236-237)

"carte e mestier delle carte" (Cicognara, 1831 - quoted as such by Steele 1900, Schreiber 1937, p. 123)

I've noticed this wrong translation circulating for years, it's best to put it to rest before it leads to further speculation and it all gets out of hand, with people asking "what is the 'mystery' of cardmaking?", etc.
Image

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#14
Interesting.

As an equivalent German development we have the word "Meister" (English: Master), which in medieval times were used as a high level inside the profession, where one started as "Lehrling", became a "Geselle" and finally a "Meister" and could then work independently. The system runs till nowadays for specific professions, which are counted as "Handwerk" (handicraft). And the different masters of a craft are united in an "Innung". And naturally any craft had and has its "Berufsgeheimnisse" (profession-mysteries or better profession-secrets). And with that we are back at the mysteries, about which is talked in the Venetian document.
Nowadays in our "Do-it-yourself"-society these Berufsgeheimnisse are not a mystery anymore, as all these things are written in teaching books. But nonetheless there are a lot of things, which you only learn by practicing. And not at one day or two.
So somehow there might be not a "mystery" in the document, but the interpretation isn't totally wrong.

Well, I can't judge the detail ... is there any indication, that the artists of Venice had this art earlier than others (at least in their own perception?)
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#15
Huck, I find it hard sometimes to distinguish your arguments from the generous and scholarly amount of facts you put in every post (I love the graph of the silk merchants' registers). But it appears you are saying that card printing is irrelevant to card developments in Italy. Instead, In Italy, hand painted playing cards became the established and protected form; and that an alliance of religious interests and card painters prevented most card printing until the late 1450s. Therefore, the tarot begins and develops as a purely hand painted card game, and there are no restrictions to where one can look for its inspirations. In effect, you appear to proposing a hand painted era running from 1440 to 1460, and a printed era thereafter.

But are you proposing that the card designs and numbers became standardized in this hand painted era? How could this happen if there is a complete freedom to paint each card according to every buyer's whim?

An example: The Visconti-Sforza cards show their heraldic emblems discretely worked into the standardized designs of the pip cards; a level of discretion you would expect if the card painting took place in the context of a rigorously standardized design. But the six court cards per suit in the Cary-Yale deck, as well as its theological virtue majors, argue against there being such a standard for these cards. In the late replacement (or "bringing-the game-up-to-code") cards of the Pierpoint Morgan, the painter, perhaps Ciconara, still seems to feel no compulsion to follow a standard iconography. The Hercules strength card and putti world card are unique, while his other replacements are highly simplified, even spartan, in their designs.

It is hard to see how standards would have developed with hand painted cards. The actual decks show them following the well established standards for pip card designs, but cutting loose for everything else.

In the other posts, you seem to be defending a sort of zero hypothesis that there is no "evolution" or "development" at all behind the tarot structure. Instead you have different card designs, deck structures and game rules, each independent of the rest, although all of them following some genre restrictions, much as works in other styles of painting. These would have continued to merrily vary on forever, except that with the advent of high volume printing at the end of the 15th century, one or two decks are drawn at random out of this stew, and immortalized by the high volume production creating a flood of identical decks.

This thesis is pleasantly radical; but what happens to tarot history if it is true? Each deck would be a unique event, more related to its general social context than to other tarot decks. It would seem that this thesis, if verified, would be the epitaph of a specialist tarot history.

I also think the thesis is wrong: Let me use the first of the recent revival of hand painted decks, Frieda Harris's Thoth deck, as an example of what I mean.

On the consumption side, the deck's patron, Crowley was adding his own spin to a card structuring tradition that had developed over the past 75 years; the overall iconography of the deck is incomprehensible if you do not know that history. I going to call this the Golden Dawn/Waite/Crowley schema. The style of the deck is again dependent more on printing history and graphic design than on anything else. Earlier decks were limited by their being printed from engravings, while this one was composed of photo-reproduced art-deco oil paintings. This deck inaugurates a return to the same freedom of design enjoyed by the deck painters of the Renaissance.

The effect of a conjunction of complete freedom in detailed designs along with the enduring sway of the Golden Dawn/Waite/Crowley schema is seen in a perusal of the decks illustrated at Aeclectic Tarot. The actual pictures in each deck are unique, and often quite wonderful in their excesses; but the overall structure of most decks follows the GDWC schema. However not all decks; there is a substantial minority of outliers too: oracle decks, angel decks, Tarot de Marseille throwbacks, etc.

So here's my question. Within the hand painted freedom of the existing early decks, is there any trace of a structuring logic analogous (not related, of course, but working in the same way) to the Golden Dawn/Waite/Crowley schema? Does the corpus of hand painted renaissance cards show a similarly tight cluster of themes? If it does, a structuring logic is at work similar to the GDWC schema, i.e, one that ensures that most of the packs have trump designs that loosely conform to some sort of overall purpose, meaning and sequence.

Finally, if we were to lose all mention of the GDWC schema, or not know where to look for it; would we be able to reconstitute it from a perusal of the cards illustrated on Aeclectic? My guess is that it would be impossible to recover the whole Astro-Kabbalistic narrative just from the images. We would be able to recover some sort of uninterpretable structure, and would need to search for verbal sources that explained it. Now suppose in this quest we found some astrological texts on the decans, some Kabbalistic works on the tree of life, but nary a mention of the tarot. Would we be able to see the connection? I think we would. This may be the best we can hope for with the actual tarot; an indirect source that explains most but not all the trump structure.

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#16
I've been to the library and read up on late 14th and early 15th century illustrating. My impression that card making was the earliest locus for wood block printing is in error.

Wood block printing in late 14th century Europe was done only on fabric. Popular illustrating was done by the lowest grade of illuminators and copyists, who used stencils to mass produce standard designs; this group also did the earliest popular card decks as well. Call this the stencil phase of card production; and think of stenciling as the earliest mass production technique

Printing, both movable type and woodblocks, was driven by the increasing demand for popular reading matter, driven by the expansion of education. This expansion is due proximately to the reformed monastic orders and their increasingly more literate tertiaries (e.g the common life schools at Devanter or Zwolle), and ultimately by the increase of urban life and trade. Some of the earliest woodblock printed books, for instance, are manuals on arithmetic and bookkeeping.

The frequent reversals in woodblock creation may have an explanation other than sheer incompetence: if early woodblock cutters graduated into this activity from previously cutting stencils (which were still used for the coloring of cards for the next few centuries), this would be a screw-up based on the wrong expertise being ingrained, rather than simple incompetence.

The source for stencil cutters' illustrations would have been at hand within their workshops, since they were also producing cheap illustrated manuscripts. It is a question of finding out what illustrations these low end "manuscript runs" contained.

The final area for mass produced pictorial information is the stamped badges and tin plate sold to pilgrims. These images, at least those reproduced in catalogs, don't match anything tarot related.

So the question whether the details of early popular card production constrained, channeled or otherwise limited the design of the the trumps remains mostly unanswered. The answer would require "sucking dust," as my old history professors put it, i.e. going to the primary, unpublished sources.

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#17
Jim Schulman wrote:I've been to the library and read up on late 14th and early 15th century illustrating. My impression that card making was the earliest locus for wood block printing is in error.

.....

So the question whether the details of early popular card production constrained, channeled or otherwise limited the design of the the trumps remains mostly unanswered. The answer would require "sucking dust," as my old history professors put it, i.e. going to the primary, unpublished sources.
Good, that you made some own research on it. You understand the difficulties better then. The opinions, when "woodcut" (especially in Italy) started, can differ extremely from author to author.

What we have, is a Spanish report about some deck fragments made with "woodcut", which are dated "c. 1400". I just saw it once, but have no idea, where to find NOW.
If this "estimation" might be true or not true, is for the moment (at least to me) also totally hidden.

Further there is an article of Simon Wintle ...
http://www.wopc.co.uk/spain/moorish/index.html .... overview
http://www.wopc.co.uk/assets/files/moorish.pdf ... article of 1987
... which also is not totally clear. He speaks of early 15th century.

There's a recent research from Franco Pratesi, which points to documents in Florence ...
http://trionfi.com/lapini-playing-cards
... between 1415-17. It's not clear, if these are woodcut decks, but it are very early documents.

There's a sure woodcut document in the kingdom of Naples (at least in South Italy) in 1521 or 1522 (somewhere here it must be, Ross presented it some time ago). Ross? Ah, this seems it to be ...
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=694&p=10171&hilit=1422#p10171

If the situation was so, that Spain/Aragon had the oldest woodcut technology for paper (c. 1400 ?), then it seems, that its appearance in Italy relates to the political movement of Alfonso of Aragon, who attempted to get a foothold in Italy and become heir of the kingdom of Naples

There's some suspicion about the second known cardmaker from Nürnberg, which was reported by Schreiber (I think). Here the list of the Nürnberg cardmakers, the relevant person is the second, Michael Wyener (working 1422 - 1447
1414 "der kartenmoler"
1422 Michel Wyener (- 1447)
1431 Hans Heilgensmid (- 1433)
1433 Ell Kartenmacherin
1441 Michel Winterperck (- 1452)
1443 Herman (- 1447)
1445 Hans Paur (- 1447)
1459 Michel (female card painter, died in this year)
1462 Pueri Stephan
1462 Erhart Stein (- 1463)
1463 Sygmunt Wynner
1465 H. Hylprant
1465 H. Swind
1467 Vincent Seltzam (becomes citizen)
1467 Endres Kartenmollerin (died this year)
1467 Pueri Hultprant
1470 Hanns Prawnt (becomes citizen, compare 1470)
1471 Lehener
1475 Erhard Puchner
1477 Jacob Perchinger (- 1482)
1478 Hanns Franck (becomes citizen)
1478 Jacob (- 1480; compare 1477)
1479 Hanns Sporer (- 1487)
1479 Kathran Steinin Kartenmallerin (died this year)
1479 Margaretha Ulrich Kartenmalerin (died this year)
1480 Caspar Lechner (died this year)
1482 Hanns Wiedersatz (died this year)
1483 Hermann Hilprand (died this year)
1484 Adam Sumenhart
1485 Lorentz Kün (became citizen)
1486 Hanns Prant (compare 1470)
1487 Jörg Marckart
1489 Hans Lengker (became citizen)
1490 Schürstab
1490 Jörg Rauch (Rauhe,- 1495)
1495 Fritz Zwierswager
1500 Andreas Gogl (becomes citizen)
I think, this is only suspicion, cause Wyener appears to have been somebody, who could also prepare the production of coins:
Es folgt nun der Zeit nach eine Ausprägung, welche zwar
nicht österreichische Pfenninge betrifft, allein deshalb hier erwähnt
wird, weil sie von einem österreichischen Herrscher ausging und
mir zur Bestimmung eines anderen Typus dienlich scheint; es sind
dies die Pfenninge, welche Herzog Albrecht V. als Markgraf von
Mähren zwischen 1423 bis 1420 in Brunn prägen liess. *<>)

Derselbe verfügte am 14. December 1426 die Ausprägung
neuer Pfenninge, welche im Jahre 1427 stattfand, es sind dies die
im Nicolsburger Codex II, 177 erwähnten „swarzn Wyener, die
mein Herr der Herzog' lesst slachen mit dem newen schilt anno etc.
XXVIP die pestent zu VI Lotn.
1423 we've a dated surviving woodcut, which carries the number of the year. This was in 18th century found by Heineken, an early woodcut specialist, and father figure in the collections of engraving.

Image

http://www.fine-art-images.net/de/showIMG_11680.html

From c. 1430 we have names of artists in Florence, from 1437 Ferrara there is printing with woodcut technology recorded.
http://trionfi.com/0/d/102

Further there is occasionally optimistic dating of works of the "Master of the playing cards".

************

Well, we have from Persia at least c. 1300 full pages woodcut technology ... which is no wonder, cause woodcut was used in China, and the Mongols, which ruled in China, ruled also about Persia.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#18
There's no point in listing every 15th century mention of woodblock printing. These start around 1420 throughout the wealthy cities of Europe, and creating an exhaustive list makes no difference to this understanding. One needs to find out how these 15th century Kinko forebears( i.e. print and copying shops) worked.

If woodblock printing is the only available copying technology, the creation of a new print item from new woodblocks would be a considerable investment. Doing this for a new card game sold in fairly low volumes would not make sense. Hence my idea that early tarots had reused images.

But stencils are much easier to make. Since there is a going trade of making stencil based reproductions, the creation of custom images for smaller numbers of triumph decks is much more feasible. This means the early popular decks would be less restricted in their choice of imagery than I first supposed.

In effect, a print shop in, say 1440, would have has a choice of using stencils for low volume runs or to cut blocks for higher volume ones. The trade records show that Triumph decks graduated from stencil to woodblock runs in the period from 1440 to 1460; although there are no extant examples of either. The earliest remaining printed decks come from the end of the 15th century; and don't shed much light. The Cary-Yale sheet is a forebear of the later Tarot de Marseille designs, the Rosenwald sheet seems like a cheaper copy of the hand painted Ferrara designs, and the Sforza castle remnants are from TDMish decks, as well as decks of Greek and Roman gods (Sola-Busca style?). There is no telling how these relate to the earliest printed and stenciled decks created 70 to 40 years earlier.

This lack of data seems to extend to the everyday operation of these shops. It would be useful to know exactly how they operated, but even here there appears to be an absence of records. We know in minute detail how the cloth trades in the Low Lands worked from the 12th century on; since different trades, and the masters and apprentices in each, are constantly at each others' throats -- riots and court cases make for great records. But the copyists were a much more peaceful lot; and so it seems nobody bothered to notice them (is there a Tolstoy quote to be made here?).

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#19
Jim Schulman wrote:Huck, I find it hard sometimes to distinguish your arguments from the generous and scholarly amount of facts you put in every post (I love the graph of the silk merchants' registers). But it appears you are saying that card printing is irrelevant to card developments in Italy. Instead, In Italy, hand painted playing cards became the established and protected form; and that an alliance of religious interests and card painters prevented most card printing until the late 1450s. Therefore, the tarot begins and develops as a purely hand painted card game, and there are no restrictions to where one can look for its inspirations. In effect, you appear to proposing a hand painted era running from 1440 to 1460, and a printed era thereafter.


In parts you must have misunderstood me.
Generally I try to combine theory with the known documents. Now we have had in the last 1/2 year a storm of new documents, the number has exploded to something like 250 % in relation to 100 % (for the period 1440-1465), which was known before Okt./Nov 2011, when this development started (mainly thanks to the researches of Franco Pratesi ... his texts are presented here: ...

http://trioni.com/franco-pratesi

... ). But these new documents are not only about Trionfi cards alone, but also about playing cards generally, and altogether this are a lot of numbers to interpret ... and even some basic questions are still not answered, it will take a longer time and possibly need some other findings, to get a clearer picture.
For the period 1440-1449 the part of documents, which speaks of Trionfi decks, is very small in relation to the big number of playing card documents. Trionfi decks are only a minor deck form, as far we can see that under the given conditions. We have 6 sure documents and one insecure document. In 4 documents the price are much too high for a mass marketing, in two cases are they "still too high" for a really established mass market, but low enough for the "rich-citizen-society" to participate.

1440 September: Florentine deck for Malatesta (too expensive)
1.1. 1441: possibly 14 Trionfi (or just pictures) cards made for Bianca Maria Visconti in Ferrara (insecure)
1442, February: 4 decks for Leonello in Ferrara (too expensive)
1442, July: A relative cheap deck bought from a Bolognese merchant for the kids Ercole and Sigismondo in Ferrara
1445: A single deck sold by the Florentine silk dealers (too expensive)
1449: a (not very fine) deck observed by Jacopo Marcello in a soldier's camp
1449, December: 6 cheap decks sold to the silk dealers in Florence.

The last document of these belongs actually to the phase 1450-1460, in which Trionfi decks become much more frequent. For the 1442-July and the decks it might be given the argument, that these decks (possibly) had been printed and then colored. But the difference between this cheapest price for Trionfi decks in relation to cheapest known prices for other playing cards (calculated for the same number of cards) is (possibly) something like 1:5 or 1:6, so Trionfi cards are luxury products.

The number of documents and sold decks is dramatically increased in the period 1450-1460, maybe described best as 1:10 or even higher. But the lowest price for Trionfi decks isn't changed. Some not clear indications are given, that some of the Trionfi card documents report about printed cards (in none case one can be totally sure about it). Never appear documents, which tell about "100 decks" from trader X to trader Y ... the highest number, which occurs, are 12 Trionfi decks.

In the report of Prof. Arnold Esch about the custom registers in Rome imported playing cards and "Triunfi cards" are noted. The situation is so, that Esch wasn't very interested in these specific documents (more looking for great art objects), but his notes let us assume, that there might be much more documents. But it's difficult to repeat his researches (it's a big archive) and we have no "man in Rome". But one document is noted by Esch, which refers to "309 Triunfi" decks and that's quite another number.
p. 64 has an entry from 1464 from another importer (I can’t see any more of that page yet…)
“...fino al 1464, nei registri doganali viene menzionato ancora con ogni ben di Dio: “merce minute di Milano”, tele di Costanza, stamigna francese, bonette, triunfi (“para 309”, “para 24”) ed altre carte da giocare, cimbali, “20 pugnalli indorati”, 2.130 pugnali."
This finding and its discussion was started here:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=743&p=10624&hilit=esch#p10624

So with the "309 Triunfi" things really seems to have been changed in their quantitative and also likely qualitative
conditions. That's 1464, and possibly we have to assume a relation of 1: 10 between "decks produced in 1450-1459" to "decks produced between 1460-69". And we have to assume, that this now developing bigger market was based on printed decks.

If this is true, than it's easy to see, that a new production form with altered Trionfi decks in this later period could easily overrun all earlier forms just by the number of existing decks (we would, if one stays to the 1 : 10 : 100 model, have a relation from 100 : 11 between "younger decks to older decks").

Now we have for Florence (likely the imported decks in Rome had been from Florence) the oldest "Minchiate" note in 1466, followed by notes in 1470/71 and in 1477. So it might well be, that "Triunfi decks" in Rome from Florence were actually Minchiate decks (whatever this might have been in 1466).

So I hope, you see the problem, that Trionfi decks in 1440 or 1450 pt or 1460 or 1470 might have been quite different to decks, which later were addressed as "Tarot".

And we've the problem, that nobody spoke in the early time of "78 cards" or "22 special cards". The first appearance of this structure is with the Boiardo Tarocchi poem (very different to usual Tarot, dated by myself to 1487) and the Sola Busca Tarocchi (very different to usual Tarot, dated 1491), both likely made in Ferrara, and Ferrara already very early had been of great importance in the development of Trionfi cards. Still in 1559 Ferrara seems to have had a dominant influence on Tarocchi card productions.
The Florentine playing card development seems to have had a heavy drop-down in the time of Savonarola (playing cards were burnt) and then in a longer phase of hidden Savonarolism after Savonarola's death ... well, the Medici were gone between 1494-1513. In the following phase Florence seems to have stood more for Germini or Minchiate or Sminchiate, then surely in the full developed form with 41 special cards.

Back to the early documents: very seldom is in them information given, how these decks looked like, actuall there are only:

before 1425: In Milan as a commission of Filippo Maria Visconti a deck is produced with totally 60 cards, from which 16 are designed as trumps. The deck is known by an accompanying small book, which describes the deck and some rudimentary game rules. The book and deck had been in a situation of war acquired by Jacopo Marcello, who send it to Isabella of Anjou as a sort of political present "from Venice to Rene d'Anjou" in the year 1449. He wrote a letter, which also survived, and in this letter the called the deck a Ludus Triumphorum. The trumps were Roman gods, the suits were presented by birds. As court cards were only noted Kings.

1.1. 1441: In the document of the present to Bianca Maria "14 figure" are mentioned ... it's not totally secure, if this are playing cards.

February 1442: The description of the 4 decks made for Leonello gives the modern 4 Italian suit and confirms these.

1453: A Florentine document indicates (only possibly ... it's just a speculation) the use of a 5x12 structure for Trionfi deck

1457: In a Ferrarese production it is noted, that these Trioni decks have only 70 cards (only possibly - but with ome internal security - with some security a deck with a 5x14-structure

Not much indeed as information and some has the label (not totally secure), but any evidence for a game structure with the later usual 4x14+22-system is missing till 1487 and the Boiardo Tarocchi poem. From 1440-1487 are 47 years and that's a long time, in which a lot of changes might have occurred.

Now we come to the decks, which have survived and are considered early (before 1470)

Brera-Brambilla Tarocchi: is considered to have been produced before Filippo Maria Visconti's death (1447). Only two trumps have survived, and this gives no information about the original structure. Both trumps belong to the usual series of Tarocchi cards.

Cary-Yale-Tarocchi: Again it is considered to have been produced for Filippo Maria Visconti. 11 trumps have survived, but only 7 of them belong to the usual series, 4 belong not to them: 3 theological virtues and the card Fame (which by others - Kaplan for instance -had been interpreted as world; but it is Fame, cause one can decipher a "winged trumpet", a typical Fame-symbol). This deck has 16 cards in each suit, and so it assumed by some, that it had a 5x16-structure instead.

Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi (first artist): This is suggested to have been produced 1452, cause a Milanese document refers then to a Trionfi card production in Cremona. The first artist produced 68 cards and from this 14 are special cards. It is assumed by some, that this was a 5x14-deck.
Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi (second artist): The second artist produced 6 cards ... a far spread suggestion for these it had been, that this had been replacement cards for "lost cards". But this position found a lot of critique in the recent past, cause the 14 cards of the first artist can be interpreted as part of a complete 5x14-deck. The 5x14-theory is in harmony with the 1457 document of 70 cards in Ferrara. Cause of specific reasons it is assumed inside the 5x14-theory, that the 6 cards were added 1465 (and then formed with the other cards a deck with 20 trumps).

Charles VI deck (1463 ? ... as place of origin is assumed Florence) : This has the curious composition of 16 trumps + 1 court card. It is assumed by me, that this also is NOT the result of an accidental loss of some cards, but that the trump series was considered as complete with some similarity to the Cary-Yale Tarocchi. Both decks are considered to have gotten their arrangement in some association to the Chess game.

Guildhall and Goldschmidt cards: This are very strange motifs. Some of the trump cards present a checkered ground. It is assumed, that these (possibly) also belonged to the Chess series.

Rosenwald Tarocchi: There is the vague suggestion (with not much security), that these cards were possibly near to the first Minchiate decks, possibly around 1465 (which possibly had 96 cards instead of 97: Fool and Magician are considered to have been merged to one card).

There are no other decks for Italy, which seriously are considered earlier than 1470.

*************************

If you put a line under all this, you get ...

3 x 16 Trumps (1425 / Cry-Yale / Charles VI)
3 x 14 Trumps (1441 / first artist PMB / 1457)
2 x 20 or 40 Trumps (second artist PMB / Rosenwald-Minchiate)
1 x 12 Trumps (1453)

... that, what is either indicated or partly even proven by the documents, if you're not obsessed by the hypothesis, that the later form of Tarot MUST HAVE BEEN in all points very similar to the first Trionfi decks, although any form of evidence for this structure is missing for the early time.
But are you proposing that the card designs and numbers became standardized in this hand painted era?
How could this happen if there is a complete freedom to paint each card according to every buyer's whim?
The handpainted era naturally was predestined for a lot of experiments in my opinion, the start of mass production naturally led to early forms of standards. I think, that this should be a natural hypothesis.
An example: The Visconti-Sforza cards show their heraldic emblems discretely worked into the standardized designs of the pip cards; a level of discretion you would expect if the card painting took place in the context of a rigorously standardized design. But the six court cards per suit in the Cary-Yale deck, as well as its theological virtue majors, argue against there being such a standard for these cards. In the late replacement (or "bringing-the game-up-to-code") cards of the Pierpoint Morgan, the painter, perhaps Ciconara, still seems to feel no compulsion to follow a standard iconography. The Hercules strength card and putti world card are unique, while his other replacements are highly simplified, even spartan, in their designs.
The Cicognara story is more or less not believed anymore, but interpreted as a forger of early 19th century. Michaekl Dummett had engaged in this question very intensively.

It is hard to see how standards would have developed with hand painted cards. The actual decks show them following the well established standards for pip card designs, but cutting loose for everything else.
I agree.
In the other posts, you seem to be defending a sort of zero hypothesis that there is no "evolution" or "development" at all behind the tarot structure.
You must have misinterpreted me. That's not my position. In the contrary, I'm occasionally attacked, cause I see a great variety of early Trionfi card developments. Well, my English isn't native and not always perfect, maybe I've caused the misunderstanding
Instead you have different card designs, deck structures and game rules, each independent of the rest, although all of them following some genre restrictions, much as works in other styles of painting. These would have continued to merrily vary on forever, except that with the advent of high volume printing at the end of the 15th century, one or two decks are drawn at random out of this stew, and immortalized by the high volume production creating a flood of identical decks.
Yes, you meet my opinion.
This thesis is pleasantly radical; but what happens to tarot history if it is true? Each deck would be a unique event, more related to its general social context than to other tarot decks. It would seem that this thesis, if verified, would be the epitaph of a specialist tarot history.
Well, the truth is interesting, not the safety of wrong Tarot history believes.

...
So here's my question. Within the hand painted freedom of the existing early decks, is there any trace of a structuring logic analogous (not related, of course, but working in the same way) to the Golden Dawn/Waite/Crowley schema? Does the corpus of hand painted renaissance cards show a similarly tight cluster of themes? If it does, a structuring logic is at work similar to the GDWC schema, i.e, one that ensures that most of the packs have trump designs that loosely conform to some sort of overall purpose, meaning and sequence.
The existing material (decks and other documents in 15th century ) likely doesn't allow too complicated questions and comparisons (old decks have mostly no numbers at the trumps, and if they have, they are possibly added later - Charles VI -, and a very early written row don't exist).
But ... the Golden Dawn / Waite / Crowley Scheme is taken from the Sepher Yetzirah, as that from Levi, just with the difference of the "translation" of the Fool position. The Sepher Yetzirah came up to us with different versions (I think 4), it was old, it had at least 50 medieval commentaries, and it became Christian topic in the time of Pico de Mirandola.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#20
OK, live and learn: The discussion of early Tarot seems to be dealing with three separate issues.

The first is that the original 14th century trump games had court cards in each of the four suits that could act as trumps regardless of which suit was designated trump. In contemporary Skat, for instance, the jack of clubs, spades, and diamonds are trumps even when hearts are the designated trump suit. This idea originated in the HRE and traveled to Northern Italy by 1400. At some point, in Northern Italy, but not elsewhere, these suited but perpetual trump cards were consolidated into a permanent fifth trump suit, while the other suits could no longer be designated as trumps. Mentions of a permanent trump suit may go back to the late 1420s

The second is that this permanent trump suit settled in on 22 cards (except the 40 card Minchiate), with fairly standardized imagery and the ABC sequences. This development is apparently complete by the late 1480s.

Finally, the cards were mass produced in cheaper editions than the hand painted ones at court. Here one can surmise that this was done by stencils and other fast hand painting techniques early on and graduated to woodcuts by the 1460s.

All three of these developments take place in Northern Italy; but their mutual relationship does not seem to be clear. Did the 4 suit, Skat-like games evolve into the Tarot, or did a game with a fifth permanent trump suit game take its place beside the older 4 suited trump games and displace them? Did this original five suited game have 22 trumps or just as many trumps as were cards in the other suits (13 to 16)? Finally, did the standardization of the images and sequences have anything to do with the beginnings of woodblock card printing in the 1460s?

I'm very new to all this; but it seems that teasing these three issues apart would allow for more specific evidence to be applied to each.

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