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.