Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#61
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: But I agree with the logic that it is easier to remove cards rather than to add them, especially the Devil card. Shortening the series, usually the pips, but sometimes the trumps, is more common than adding cards to it. Minchiate is the outstanding exception to this.
... :-) ... well, we have with the whole development of Tarot a splendid example, that "adding cards" was also a used principle, cause otherwise Tarot with its "added special cards" wouldn't exist. As the original playing card deck is generally perceived - maybe right, maybe wrong - the 4x13-deck, not the 4x14+22 deck.

Thanks to the work of Franco Pratesi we've now a view at greater production numbers of Florence. Between 1000s of produced decks in the 1440s we've also a few Trionfi decks offered for an expensive price in these lists.

Nonetheless the printed cheap Trionfi card deck is still discussed as the "original". My impression is, that it seems difficult for some to read the numbers. It's a common feature in life, that "new inventions" appear in small numbers and for a high price.
I remember, that I bought a 128k computer system with printer in 1983 for 7000 DM, today likely I would get for the equivalent money 10 of them with rather unbelievable better quality.
Producers don't make high-number-editions, if they don't have a sort of guarantee or reflected hope, that it would pay out. This printed-deck hypothesis as the original Tarot is against all practical experience in life.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#62
Again, the expert consensus is that printing was not a "cheap" thing prior to the late 1430s. The term *sufficiencies" to denote middling goods between cheap necessities and expensive luxuries is from the 18th century, but it may have applied to decks printed early enough to be the model for the earliest hand painted decks we have now; since they would be from this high quality period. Established towns people in the Renaissance were probably the sort who could afford the sufficiencies of life, just like the rising English middle class of the 18th century.

Is there any chance that the Minchiate is the original commercial deck, printed with enough cards to work for any game whatsoever? The Tarot de Marseille star, moon and sun designs may be conflations of the older sun, moon and star with the zodiac cards of the Minchiate; although why they would pick Aquarius for the star and Gemini for the sun beats me.

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#63
Jim Schulman wrote:Again, the expert consensus is that printing was not a "cheap" thing prior to the late 1430s. The term *sufficiencies" to denote middling goods between cheap necessities and expensive luxuries is from the 18th century, but it may have applied to decks printed early enough to be the model for the earliest hand painted decks we have now; since they would be from this high quality period. Established towns people in the Renaissance were probably the sort who could afford the sufficiencies of life, just like the rising English middle class of the 18th century.
There are some notes of "printed cards" in the lists of Franco Pratesi. Franco interprets "di forma" as printed. These appear mainly at begin of the 1440s ... there's no indication, that these cards are expensive. In later lists these expressions have disappeared, possibly because printing had become "standard" for "not expensive" decks.

It's a pity, that these lists get not very much attention.
http://trionfi.com/franco-pratesi
Is there any chance that the Minchiate is the original commercial deck, printed with enough cards to work for any game whatsoever? The Tarot de Marseille star, moon and sun designs may be conflations of the older sun, moon and star with the zodiac cards of the Minchiate; although why they would pick Aquarius for the star and Gemini for the sun beats me.
Minchate appears as a word in word 1466, 1470/71 and 1477, that's far less as the word appearances of "Trionfi". A possible explanation might be,that Florentine Triunfi or Trionfi decks were actually Minchiate decks (in our modern understanding). For the moment we have not enough data to speculate about this possibility.

"Standard" is actually the problem, that we've the use of the word "Trionfi", but that we can't be sure, what "Trionfi" in each case means. We know for sure, that a curious deck like the Michelino (60 cards, 16 trumps, the suits are birds) in 1449 could be addressed as a "new Trionfi game". If this was a Trionfi game in the mind of contemporary speaker, the question is justified, what else might have been perceived as "Trionfi cards".
Any confirmation of the usual (nowadays normal) Tarot deck structure 4x14+22 is missing till Boardo Tarocchi poem (my dating: 1487) and Sola-Busca Tarocchi (usually accepted as from 1491), and both belong to the curious Tarot decks with not much relation to the usual Tarocchi motifs.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#64
mikeh wrote:Jim, your references to Hadot in relation to the virtue tradition interested me. I respect what I've read by him. Can you give a reference?
I don't read French; the translation I found most useful is the collected papers edited by Davidson
For myself, my current hypothesis is that the tarot began as a synthesis of Petrarchan Triumphs with the seven virtues ... However the beginnings of a Neoplatonist and Kabbalist interpretation of some of the cards was possible as of the 1470s-1480s.
I recall a review by Frances Yates of an early Tarot history by Dummett. In it, she basically asserts that the Platonic content of the tarot is self evident and does not need archival evidence. This is a strong point if the creativity and originality of Renaissance courtiers and humanists could have only have been achieved through the application of neo-platonic ideas. Yates comments that Bruno's la cena della cenari exposition of the microcosm theory of imaginative creativity is not his invention, but the renaissancee standard.

It is in this context that Hadot's work becomes interesting; it creates an alternative source to Neoplatonism for renaissance imagination and individuality. The Stoic considers him or herself the here and now of the universe, and uses exercises to clean the egoistic distortions off perception (seeing things as purely physical, not as desirable or disgusting) and judgment (converting perceptions into propositions and assenting only to those which are true). The conversion of physics and logic into a practical regimen is carefully outlined in Seneca and Epictetus. In other words, the old virtue ethic, with a renaissance refurbishment, could have been the source of the creativity and cosmic ambitions of the renaissance imagination.

Finally, if you like a little melodrama, there is Foucault's take on the subsequent history of virtue. For him, it is not forgotten, but suppressed by the emergent modern state. The state does not want us to be self determining or self fashioning, it wants us to avoid the stick of being labelled as mad, criminal or unfit, and to pursue the carrot of rational market and corporate incentives. People imitating Diogenes and achieving the state of ataraxia are simply too unpredictable and unproductive for modernity. In this imaginary history, tarot card players are marginalized and defiant people who treasure these images of autonomy and thumb their noses at 'the man," even when they no longer understand how to use them.

:o) Yeah I know it's silly. But it's a much more fashionably silly than Egyptian hieroglyphs and akashic records; and carries the same promise of an exit from the prison house.

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#65
Huck wrote:
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: But I agree with the logic that it is easier to remove cards rather than to add them, especially the Devil card. Shortening the series, usually the pips, but sometimes the trumps, is more common than adding cards to it. Minchiate is the outstanding exception to this.
... :-) ... well, we have with the whole development of Tarot a splendid example, that "adding cards" was also a used principle, cause otherwise Tarot with its "added special cards" wouldn't exist. As the original playing card deck is generally perceived - maybe right, maybe wrong - the 4x13-deck, not the 4x14+22 deck.
I didn't say, nor did I imply, that it wasn't a "used princple" to add cards, just that it is easier to remove cards rather than to add them. This means to play as well as to production. Empty space on a sheet of paper invites additions on the plate that makes the impressions on it. All Tarot games have versions which use reduced packs - some cards are removed, and in one case the trumps are reduced.

Adding trump cards, especially without numbers, seems like a gratuitous,action that would make it harder to play. Playing cards today don't add new cards - the last card to be added was a Joker. In most games he is left to the side and not used. There is no game called "the Joker Game".

When the Minchiate added 20 trumps, they had numbers. I doubt any of us could list the 12 Zodiac of the MInchiate from memory, and the fact is that the players never had to - they were printed with numbers.

The fact is that adding cards to a game is either like the Joker or like permanent trumps - little or big. It isn't incremental. Once players get used to a game, they don't like additonal meaningless cards thrown in, which they have to make sense of. The ludus triumphorum had two big moments - the original standard series, and the Germini additions. It could not have been a hundred different numbers and subjects all over the place, gradually coalescing into two standard types. Players would not have stood for it.
Thanks to the work of Franco Pratesi we've now a view at greater production numbers of Florence. Between 1000s of produced decks in the 1440s we've also a few Trionfi decks offered for an expensive price in these lists.
I don't think there is any way to extrapolate from the decks offered in trade to silk dealers to the total number of decks made and sold by the cardmakers themselves. This is still to be seen, and Franco hasn't seen it, as far as I know. I would think that decks offered in trade would be intrinsically more valuable than the standard commodity, and in any case give no hint as to the number. I generally think that everything should be considered as the proverbial "tip of the iceberg" - nor more than 5 per cent of what actually happened, and in this case less.

Of all of the standard playing cards made in Italy in the 15th century, we have possibly 1 single fragmentary example remaining. How many do you think were made in Italy in the 15th century? I would think it is not an unreasonable guess that there were at least one million packs of cards made in Italy in the 15th century, so that this one fragmentary example is 0.0001 percent of those made. Even if this number is wrong, it is not far wrong, and it shows how ephemeral playing cards are, and how fragmentary the evidence is, and how careful we have to be with it, including interpreting it with common sense rather than fantasy.

How many of us have a deck of cards from the early 20th century? How easy is it to find it? How about the 19th century?
Image

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#66
I remember, that I bought a 128k computer system with printer in 1983 for 7000 DM, today likely I would get for the equivalent money 10 of them with rather unbelievable better quality.
Producers don't make high-number-editions, if they don't have a sort of guarantee or reflected hope, that it would pay out. This printed-deck hypothesis as the original Tarot is against all practical experience in life.
Hi Huck- whereas I agree with you about electronics- I do not agree with that principle applied to games. I have several up market collector games that have stood the test of time and playing; The standard affordable editions having been around and proved their popularity. So I have a Monopoly set with hand -made playing pieces and quality printed money etc, likewise a Snakes and Ladders game with inlaid mother of pearl snakes and jade ladders.
A lovely wooden handmade and painted chess set. These would never have been produced had the games been just invented. I saw in Dubai a Rubric Cube made from semi precious stones. It seems to me perfectly logical that the game of Tarot was known and copied in a luxury item way. My Luxury games will live on with my descendants, whereas my cardboard ones will disappear with wear.
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#67
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: I didn't say, nor did I imply, that it wasn't a "used princple" to add cards, just that it is easier to remove cards rather than to add them. This means to play as well as to production. Empty space on a sheet of paper invites additions on the plate that makes the impressions on it. All Tarot games have versions which use reduced packs - some cards are removed, and in one case the trumps are reduced.
Of course it's easier, if you have a given deck, to reduce it to play the game you like. But this natural phenomenon doesn't touch the production process. A producer makes as much cards, as he thinks, that he can sell them ... he observes the interests of his customers and acts according his observations.
We've examples of the "adding cards action" with the Tarot, with decks with queens, with decks with a 5th or even a 6th suit (and more suits), with a specific case of Woensam in Cologne, who added Queens and Aces to a 4x12 deck of Schäufelein in Nürnberg. So there's nothing unusual about such an action. I don't know, what your argument "it's easier to reduce a deck" aims at.
With Trionfi decks we're in the luxury market. The producer adds something to the standard to get more money for a single product. That's common for items at the luxury market.

...
The fact is that adding cards to a game is either like the Joker or like permanent trumps - little or big. It isn't incremental. Once players get used to a game, they don't like additonal meaningless cards thrown in, which they have to make sense of. The ludus triumphorum had two big moments - the original standard series, and the Germini additions. It could not have been a hundred different numbers and subjects all over the place, gradually coalescing into two standard types. Players would not have stood for it.
15th century and it's playing card deck productions were - as far we can see it - very creative. It's the childhood of card playing and one cannot compare it with later or modern card player behavior. Indeed it's true, that modern card players prefer cards, to which they are used to. But there's no guarantee, that this habit was already common in 15th century. Likely players were happy about the increasing quality of playing cards and enjoyed new motifs.
I don't think there is any way to extrapolate from the decks offered in trade to silk dealers to the total number of decks made and sold by the cardmakers themselves. This is still to be seen, and Franco hasn't seen it, as far as I know. I would think that decks offered in trade would be intrinsically more valuable than the standard commodity, and in any case give no hint as to the number. I generally think that everything should be considered as the proverbial "tip of the iceberg" - nor more than 5 per cent of what actually happened, and in this case less.
Whatever playing card documents of 15th century contain, and whatever blanks their rarity may leave to us, they are just the only material, about which we can work. And somehow - maybe not perfect, of course - they mirror contemporary reality.
If I see (for the 1440s) a few thousands traded decks and only a handful of them are Trionfi cards, the natural conclusion is, that I should assume, that the market for Trionfi cards is rather small in relation for the general market of playing cards. Your point with the "proverbial tip of the iceberg" seem to indicate, that you still hope for the "hidden great market" of Trionfi cards, which just didn't come to light by the recent research.

Well, we wait for the expected Esch report, and we will see, what numbers we get then.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#68
I'm curious, since we have the notes from Florence of the silk traders selling cards, what percentage of the cards are tarot as compared to the percentage of playing cards? That would at least give us a glimpse to compare the numbers within this small, and arguably non-representational sample.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#69
robert wrote:I'm curious, since we have the notes from Florence of the silk traders selling cards, what percentage of the cards are tarot as compared to the percentage of playing cards? That would at least give us a glimpse to compare the numbers within this small, and arguably non-representational sample.
For the 1440's that is clear: less than 1%, and possibly also even less than 0.2%. For these years the number of Trionfi decks is 7 (1 for 1445, 6 for 1449), and the number of all decks might be easily 3500, as the artist with the highest production (Niccolo di Cavallo) alone made about 1500 playing card decks in this period (not precisely counted).

For the Puri family list it it none, so 0%.

One could naturally argue, that the sales of the silk dealers and the Puri family just didn't reach the high-class-market. But then again one is in the argument, that these cards are likely specific objects for very high people of society.

Actually the 6 Trionfi decks of December 1449 (counted above for the 1440s) belong already to the observed "Peak" of Trionfi card sales of December 1449 - 1455, which should be actually seen as the outbreak of a greater interest for the game, likely somehow connected to the Jubilee year 1450 and the Emperor visit 1452 and the general increased interest in "triumphal processions", which one can note as a parallel appearance in society.
If one sorts the data this way, we have only this single deck of 1445 for the known traders and from Florence additionally only the single deck production for Malatesta in 1440.

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

From the general early appearances of Trionfi decks we have a correlation to "peace".

Document "Florence September 1440" happens after the battle of Anghiari, and involved is an official of the city Anghiari, Giusto Giusti. The battle of Anghiari took place at June 29 1440. Anghiari meant a heavv loss for Piccinino, who had worked for Filippo Maria Visconti. The result of the battle caused a truce - and it likely was expected, that peace would follow soon.
As an action "inside the truce" Bianca Maria Visconti was send to Ferrara, and Bianca got the present of 14 pictures at 1.1.1441 (document 1.1.1441), in my opinion likely related to a playing card production.
Around the same time we've a document for a Trionfi poem picture production from Florence/Venice, connected to Piero de Medici.
War returned in 1441, but was finished soon with the marriage of Bianca Maria and peace in October 1441, possibly also with a Trionfi deck production (not proven).
In the same month Alberti engaged for a poetical contest in Florence (which seems to belong to a correlated "peace celebration") ... possibly the contest was related to the condition, that Petrarca 100 years ago (1341) got the title "poetus laureatus". Around the same time the poet Enea Silvio Piccolomini (later Pius II.) got the title "poetus laureatus" from Emperor Fredrick III. The peace of October 1441 had a certain political correlation to the fights between the council in Ferrara/Florence and the council in Basel and the fight between Pope Eugen and anti-Pope Felix. Enea Silvio played a certain role in this conflict.

Document February 1442: Leonello paid for 4 Trionfi decks, which he likely ordered very quick after he became Signore of Ferrara at begin of January.

Document July 1442: The boys Ercole and Sigismondo, 9 and 11 years old, in Ferrara got a cheap Trionfi deck to play with. This possibly refers to a conflict in the Ferrarese succession, as some saw the boys as the legitimate heirs and not Leonello. Leonello solved the conflict with sending the mother of the boys away from Ferrrara and transferring the boys for education later to Naples.
Alfonso of Aragon had taken Naples at June 2 1442, after a siege of 8 months. Leonello married his second wife Maria d'Aragon, daughter of Alfonso, at 20.5.1444.
It seems plausible, that the marriage was arranged already short after the decisive victory of Alfonso in June 1442, as Alfonso naturally immediately had an interest in Italian alliances. It seems, that Maria d'Aragon was quite young (birth date is unknown, one source, that I saw, even claimed, that she was only about 16, when she died 1449). So ... maybe the arrangement, that Ercole and Sigismondo should get their educative phase in Naples, was already ready in July 1442, when the boys got this cheap Trionfi deck.
If Alfonso celebrated his victory in Italian custom with a "Trionfi deck", which he distributed for political propaganda in Italy ... which for some other reason seems not probable ... then possibly the deck of the boys was such a deck. Well, that's just only a possibility. But it seems sure, that Alfonso in Italy very quickly started propaganda for his rule in Naples. And during his triumphal celebrations in 1443 the Florentine "Trionfi culture" (which already exists) participates, and it is praised, cause the Florentines are already known as "experienced in triumphal celebrations" ... a fame, which they likely had won during the council of 1439. Some of the allegorical figures during the celebration are near to the Trionfi card motifs.
If one would assume, that some Florentine merchants got a "political propaganda commission" from Alfonso short after the victory, a production of a Trionfi card game in Florence with some "Alfonso spirit" (heraldic etc.) might have well taken place with distribution channels via Bologna, which might explain the participation of a Bolognese merchant Marchio Burdochi.
Well, not everybody would have loved such political propaganda. In the following years we have not much about Trionfi decks. From Venice in 1441 we have the clear signal, that foreign playing cards are not desired anymore.

The document of 1445 (silk dealers) goes fro the silk dealers to "Martino di Giovanni di Pellegrino da Bergamo merciai". Franco sees these Bergamo traders in connection to the trade with Ancona. I don't see any connection for this deck.

The document of 1449 - 6 cheap Trionfi decks in the price class of the cheap Trionfi deck of July 1442, made by Giovanni di Domenico, who became around 1446 father of the more famous painter Francesco di Giovanni Botticini (1446 – July 22, 1498) - relates to the peace in the war between Milan-Venice, which was celebrated in Milan with a triumphal procession in the expectation, that it would endure. But around Christmas 1449 Sforza turned the table, and Milan was disconnected from the outside. The stressed citizens opened the doors and Sforza became new duke in Febr/March 1450.

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

From all this ... the invention of the term Trionfi decks likely accompanied the detection of triumphal celebrations as tool of political propaganda, which possibly took special forms early in Florence (1439). The production of playing cards accompanied this process ... as a minor detail, just as advertising campaigns always accompany persons or events, may it be the election of an American president or a concert of Michael Jackson or the excessive use of copperplate engravings for the celebration of emperor Maximilian or the private use of visiting cards.
The use of playing cards as propaganda material was very common in playing card history, also nowadays, when enterprises often use the backside to announce their activities ... and distribute these cards for free at specific events.

There seems to have been a "first wave" (1439-1442), when this tool was used ... but soon the pubic became used to the new trick, and somehow it more or less disappeared for some time. Then it returned in a new more extended "second wave" 1449-1455, which likely differed not only in quantity of the produced decks, but also in their quality.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#70
From the general early appearances of Trionfi decks we have a correlation to "peace"......

There seems to have been a "first wave" (1439-1442), when this tool was used ... but soon the pubic became used to the new trick, and somehow it more or less disappeared for some time. Then it returned in a new more extended "second wave" 1449-1455, which likely differed not only in quantity of the produced decks, but also in their quality.
One reason for the gap between first wave and second- could likely belong to the decade of extreme weather- cold and floods, resulting in poor cropping +plus war damage.
Yay! I agree with the propaganda aspect for more resons than Peace as driving force; The "Common Good" that seems to be described in at least the Visconti Hand painted decks would have resulted in the area recovering from the disastrous weather AND War by amalgamation of production. Food production, wool, silk, linen all primary produce needed stability- weather and war a disaster. Hungry people do not buy cards.
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

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