Tarot Bolonais

#1
Ross G. R. Caldwell in his Bolognese sequence topic has a card from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. I saw the deck in the library image bank and copied the thumbnails.

With a little bit of photoshop manipulation I could get a clearer look at them.

I was interested to see what looked like a roman numeral 12 hand written at the top(above the head) of the Hanged Man. I say top because in the original photography the Hanged Man was right side up!

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I started looking for more, which was difficult since the original images were so small and blurry to begin with. I guess I could order some digital scans, but if I understand the site that they are ~10 euros a pop, I will quickly blow my budget!

Anyway, I here are some cards that seem to have similar writing.

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The Popess (Pope I?) has what might be a two handwritten at the top, Fortitude an eleven, the Wheel a ten, and the Tower a sixteen.

Does any one know more about this deck? How about the ordering? Am I imagining things? I haven't quite gotten a copy of The Game of Tarot to compare it with yet, unfortunately.

Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks

Re: Tarot Bolonais

#2
Hi Dennis - thanks for finding these images! Especially thanks for taking the trouble to post them on your website. Extraordinary!

You'll notice that this very deck is listed as my "favorite" under my avatar - by its catalogue number in the BnF. This is shown on the slip of paper at the top left on the first page of the album.

It is a shame that the pictures are not higher quality, but at least they are in color, and have all the trumps! The b/w images that have appeared over the years still lacked a few.

I wonder if the cards have degraded in a few decades, or whether the color images are really that bad - you can clearly see the number "1" on the Bagattino in the b/w image, but it is invisible on the color image -

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Another one where the number is gone is the the Chariot, which clearly reads "7" in the b/w image, but is invisible in the color -

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In any case, the handwritten numbering should be ignored. These numbers strictly follow the Tarot de Marseille (not the Bolognese order) and the late 18th century practice of numbering the Fool "22" (actually I believe it is always Roman numerals, XXII, when printed on the card). Whether this was the former owner of the cards, who donated them to the BnF, or some BnF cataloguer, we don't know. But the Bolognese didn't even begin to put numbers on their cards until the late 18th century, and then only 5-Love to 16-Star. The other cards remain unnumbered to this day (and no titles have ever been printed on them either).

If and when you do get Dummett's Game of Tarot (an absolutely essential purchase), you'll find references to this deck on pages 315-316, 318-319, and 403. He has two b/w plates, numbers 18 and 19.
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Re: Tarot Bolonais

#3
Hi Dennis,

Welcome to the forum, and thanks for posting those images. This is one of my favourite decks.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Tarot Bolonais

#4
I noticed that there are two Kings of Swords - on plates 3 and 5 (shown on Dennis' page), in the bottom right corner of each.

So the BnF actually has the remains of (at least) two Bolognese tarots, which look to be made by the same maker (a Tower is on the King's shield, the maker is Dalla Torre), so perhaps this other King is also 17th century.
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Re: Tarot Bolonais

#5
Looking at the corner indices (pointed "gothic" arches) in the court cards, I notice what appears to be a colour scheme.

King of Cups - red
King of Coins - yellow
King of Batons - green
King of Swords - black

They can be compared with the Fantesca (female Jack) of Coins, Fante of Batons, and Fante of Swords on page 4, which seem to be the same. I wonder if this really was a corner-indice system, to help arrange the cards in a hand to know what you had of value in each suit quickly.
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Re: Tarot Bolonais

#6
For anyone who might consider my dismissal of the handwritten numbering on these cards as premature or questionable, look at that of the World -

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There is a question mark next to the number 21 - "21?". The numberer was following the Tarot de Marseille order, but this card doesn't look like the Tarot de Marseille world, and the numberer wasn't familiar with it. However, all the other cards are fairly clear, so this had to be the World, 21, even though the numberer wasn't really sure.
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