IPCS ... The International Playing Card Society

#1
IPCS ... The International Playing Card Society
The International Playing-Card Society holds Conventions annually in the Autumn, the venue usually being located in Europe or America. The last Conventions were held at Toronto (Canada) in 2009, at Lisbon (Portugal) in 2010, at Malmö (Sweden) in 2011, at Paris (France) in 2012, at La Tour-de-Peilz (Switzerland) in 2013, at Berlin (Germany) in 2014, at Turnhout (Belgium) in 2015, at Prague (Czech Republic) in 2016.
http://www.i-p-c-s.org/

The page gives a lot of information ...

Museums with playing cards
http://www.i-p-c-s.org/faq/museums.php

Playing Card Societies
http://www.i-p-c-s.org/faq/societies.php

Future Events
http://www.i-p-c-s.org/diary.html

Links to Web pages of playing card researchers
http://www.i-p-c-s.org/links.html

.. and more

MikeH added at another thread:
Most ICPS articles, except for recent ones (i.e. the last couple of years), are on the Web. You just have to "Ask Alexander".
https://askalexander.org/
Of course you have to know what to ask. But it's pretty accommodating. You just type in a name or subject, or whatever. I've even asked for vol. number and number number. It brings up a mess of pages, and you click on one that looks promising.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: The 2019 IPCS convention and the exhibition "Il Mondo in Mano"

#2
Actually, you have to pay to get the Playing Card articles. Or join IPCS. If you just get their journal electronically, membership is 12 British pounds or 17 Euros per year.

This year I actually went to the IPCS Convention, mainly because it was in Sicily, which I was interested in experiencing, and because I wanted to see the so-called "Alessandro Sforza" cards. I was not disappointed on either count; but the convention itself was surprisingly fun and enlightening. I say "surprisingly" because I am not very interested in historical playing cards except as they relate to the tarot, nor in trading or buying old cards. That it was so interesting has I think mainly to do with the people who did the preparatory work, namely, the members in Sicily, Emilia Maggio in Palermo and the Associazione Culturale Gioco Tarocchi Siciali "Michael Dummett" in Catania, where the convention was held.

The first event of interest to me was the tour of the Palazzo Biscari. I had not been aware that it was the Biscari collection of antiquities from which the Catello Ursino had received ten of its famous tarot cards. The Count himself - or at any rate a Biscari descendant - conducted the tour of his decaying ancestral home, entertaining us with stories about his ancestors and the likely skeletons in their closets, amid this monument to Baroque and Rococo elegance. This is a tour that has to be arranged in advance, and I am glad the organizers did so.

Next - the same afternoon - was the former Benedictine monastery, which had acquired 5 of the Castello Ursino cards. This, too, was more interesting than you might guess, partly because of the different historical layers - pre-Greek, Greek, Roman, pre-eruption Benedictine, post-eruption Benedictine, and post-1861, when it was nationalized and made a university building; It was also of interest because of all the lava that surrounded the old structure (without penetrating it), one of the few places in Catania it is really visible today.

Then in the evening came the presentation and practice session of Sicilian tarocchi, of a particular sort found in one or maybe two Sicilian towns. It was a partnership game in which the partners change each hand, and who they are is known to only one of the players. I never would have imagined such a thing, but there it was. And other wrinkles. The exhibition catalog (on which more later) has a two page summary of the rules, in Italian. The "unknown partner" mechanism is dealt with there, whether in enough detail to be comprehensible to someone who has not seen it in practice I do not know. It works.

The next morning we went to the opening of a special exhibition at the Castello Urbino, in which the Associatione Culturale "Michael Dummett" had played a major role. It included not only the famous Castello Ursino cards but many other historical examples of Sicilian tarocchi and regular playing cards. Anyone interested in this subject should get themselves a copy of the exhibition catalog Tarocchi in Mano, with color reproductions of most of them plus internet links by means of those square things with dots in them called QR codes. On the internet a price of 20 Euros is listed , very reasonable for a 160 page book of 8.5x11 inch pages most with color illustrations on them - and many QR codes, for accessing supplementary material online. (You scan the code on a mobile phone and it apparently comes up. I have not tried it.) It is mostly in Italian, but with some translations or abstracts in English.
Image

One surprise for me in the exhibition was that the famous "stag-rider" tarocchi card was not called Temperance, but the Fool. The blurb, by Emilia Maggio, explains that it is not Temperance because there is only one vessel. It seems obvious to me that more needs to be said. I mean, can't it be a satirical representation of Temperance,, in which the figure's sex organ is the other vessel? Also, Temperance was sometmes represented with a vessel of water in one hand and a torch in the other. Again a ripe object for satire. Ron Decker told me later that he asked Emilia about this, and she said that in the historical iconography there existed two such stag-riders (both male), one considered good and the other bad, i.e. a wise man and a fool. Well, I would still like to know more, such as where and when such iconography appears.

Another oddity is that the catalog calls the Ursino tarocchi "Ferrarese". In the accompanying blurb by Maggio there is a question mark by that word, as indeed there should be. In the exhibition (but not the catalog) the Ursino cards are put alongside reproductions of the "Charles VI" cards from the Bibliotheque Nationale, to show their similarity, although without dating or saying what city they are from. But of course both Maggio (in her "Palermo Empress" essay, discussed here at http://www.forum.tarothistory.com/viewt ... =11&t=1112) and Depaulis (In Tarot Revele, 2013) agree that the "Charles VI" is most likely Florentine, even if Depaulis says c. 1460 and Maggio, at least now, an earlier date, c. 1445 (she said late 1430s in her article).

The afternoon was devoted to presentations by members on some aspect of playing card history. Maggio, who was awarded the annual Sylvia Mann prize for her essay, led off by detailing a 1925 typescript found by Castello Ursino staff in 2014 that contains the fullest account known of the Ursino tarocchi cards, written by the Czech archeologist and art connoisseur Ludwig Pollak. Maggio's essay is reproduced in Italian and English abstract in the catalog, with a QR code linking to her English translation of Pollak's text.

What is especially interesting is Pollak's mention of an abrasion on the back of the "Stag rider" card through which writing could be seen from a middle layer of paper, including the date 1428. As is well known, card makers typically recycled previously used paper to stiffen playing cards in between their fronts and backs. This writing is no longer accessible to view, due to indelible mounting put on the backs of the cards by the 1987 restorers. Since this same date of 1428 is visible on the inside of an Empress card of similar style and dimensions in Palermo, Pollak's observation confirms that this Empress is part of the same deck as the Ursino cards. It also of course makes it clear that whenever the cards were made, it was after 1428. I would have liked to have seen a reproduction of that writing with "1428" on the Palermo card. Unfortunately not even the front side is in the catalog. The front can be seen in Maggio's "Palermo Empress" article; there is also my scan of it on THF at the above link.

In the question period someone asked why the deck was dated in the exhibition (and catalog) to the middle of the 15th century, as opposed to simply "after 1428". Maggio said it was due to the similarity to the "Charles VI" cards, which she dated to c. 1445 (in her Palermo article she had said late 1430s) and Depaulis to c. 1460. Even though not by the same artist, they are so similar that they are probably of the same workshop, or at least milieu. Also, if the writing was a legal document, it would take some time for it no longer to be of any use to one party or another of the contract or other document that was drawn up in 1428. {Added later: Apparently I misheard or misremembered this discussion. It was Depaulis who said c. 1445. Double-checking with Maggio, she tells me that she still holds to c. 1435, for the reasons given in her 2016 "Palermo Empress" article.]

This argument, if meant to be for c. 1445 for the Catania cards, does not seem convincing. It was pointed out by someone in the audience that what were recycled were frequently documents which had errors on them and were discarded for that reason, in which case the length of time between first and second use could be quite brief. Secondly, it seems to me, workshops that produced cards among other things sometimes lasted a long time under one master. The known card maker Lo Scheggia, who did a cassone lid figure rather similar to the stag-rider, had his own workshop by 1429, according to Wikipedia, and has major works at least until 1457; he died in 1486. Thirdly, there is much similarity between the Palermo Empress and the Rothschild Emperor. These Rothschild cards, or at least their Knight of Swords (which actually isn't in the Rothschild collection, but in Bassano), were attributed by the famous art historian Luciano Bellosi to Giovanni dal Ponte, who was active from the 1420s through 1430s, dying c. 1438 (I translated and scanned Bellosi at http://www.forum.tarothistory.com/viewt ... 089#p15089). The same attribution of the Knight of Swords was made by the curators of the Accademia (Florence) Gallery's exhibition catalog devoted to dal Ponte in 2016, albeit with a question mark (Giovanni dal Ponte, 2016, pp. 128-129). It seems to me we have only a broad idea (i.e. 1430-1460) of when the particular characteristics of the Ursino cards started being used by Florentine artists and artisans.

Added later: at https://giocotarocchisiciliani.jimdo.co ... li/maggio/ the translation of Pollack's report links the "1428" with the name "Bernardin...", probably "Bernardino", in which case the date might refer to something Bernardino did in 1428. In that case it might have been written after Bernardino's 1444 death. That decreases the chance that the writing was done shortly after 1428. Pollak himself dated them to 1450. See post 6 below for more.

The next presenter was Ron Decker, who argued that the six "second artist" cards of the PMB/Colleoni deck were painted by Cristoforo de Predis, based on his known association with the Sforza and similarity in details and composition with Da Sphaera. I hope we will see this argument in print or on the web at some point. I myself see too much stylistic affinity with Ferrara in those cards to associate them with de Predis; but that style is unfortunately much in the eye of the beholder, and Decker does not agree..

Another presentation, by Cristina Dorsini, discussed the different milieus of the Milanese and Ferrarese courts. Her essay, in its original Italian version, is included in the catalog, with an English abstract. Then I gave my "Marziano da Tortona and the Ludus Triumphorum", in a new revision, much reduced, of what I have presented a couple of times already on THF. It is something I have revised numerous times in draft over the past year, and it may need more yet. Maggio gave me a few new supporting arguments in the question period. I have since put my current version, with her suggestions, online at https://marzianotoludus.blogspot.com/

After that, Salvatore Bonnacorsi, president of the Sicilian tarocchi association, gave a short introduction (a longer version in Italian is in the catalog, with an English abstract)) to the history of the last Sicilian playing card company in Sicily, which closed in 1980. to whose production is probably owed the survival of the Sicilian game. Since the factory, or what is left of it, still stands, sitting idle, we all got up and walked there, not far away, where we looked at the presses and other machines, watched some demonstrations of various operations, and listened to verbal explanation by former workers, translated as they went. It was of course a "modern" operation of the late 19th to 20th century type. Management and workers were largely women, and they enjoyed enlightened policies and benefits.

In the evening came the banquet, where I was fortunate enough to have Ron Decker on one side and on the other, after my wife, some of the Sicilian tarot players who had done so much to make the convention a success. While I was discussing tarot history with Ron, my wife was being charmed by the Sicilians' (native and adopted) warmth, humor, and general welcoming, which gradually included the rest of us. Of this banquet I share the cover of the menu, an example of Sicilian wit, a play in tarocchi on the day, year, and place of the banquet, also referring to the cover of the exhibition catalog.
Image

The final day had a business meeting and two more talks, one by an Austrian member, Wolfgang Artfahrt, about playing card manufacturing in a small town in western Slovakia, Trnava, during the 18th and 19th centuries, and the other by another American (the third out of seven presenters), Tom Gallagos, "Putting the Magic Back into the Tarot, Part I", arguing for the implausibility of the assumption that tarot cards were not early on used for divination. The final event was a silent auction, but I didn't stick around to watch, in favor of exploring Catania one last time. I loved the place.

I cannot recall where the 2020 convention will be held. The 2021 convention will be in Madrid, co-hosted by the Spanish association there.

Re: IPCS ... The International Playing Card Society

#3
Thank you very much, Mike, for your thorough and thoughtful account of the IPCS annual conference. You are so lucky! I wish I could have gone.

How was your talk received? I mean feedback and discussion later, that sort of thing.

If I had known you were going, I would have asked you to pick up a copy for me. The form on the webpage asks to make a bank transfer first, and they only have spaces for Italian addresses. You have to write them to get instructions about how to order for places outside Italy. It does not look easy to get this catalogue.
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Re: IPCS ... The International Playing Card Society

#4
About my talk, the problem is that I thought copies of the paper were to have been distributed to the attendees beforehand. Instead, what they had was an abstract I wrote one draft earlier than the final one I sent out, containing things I had already thought my way out of. Also, I only had time for an abbreviated version, just presenting the idea. So for most of the audience, it seemed to be a question of, I'd like to see this in print. I promised to have the paper in blog form within a month, which I have (with again a few revisions). Maggio and Depaulis were of course more familiar with it. Maggio's suggestions helped to strengthen my hypothesis. My wife asked Depaulis what he thought of it (I didn't have the nerve). He said, I think,, "It needs more thought. " He added "And more data." I took that as meaning it was an interesting idea, but I don't know if he was just being polite. I couldn't agree more with both sentiments.

I hadn't explored how to get the catalog, beyond seeing it was on a few websites as orderable. Perhaps
https://www.libreriauniversitaria.it/mo ... 8832220049

When I go into the site, it seems to allow "France" as a place to send the book. But of course I haven't tried it.

I was thinking of getting another copy, for someone else (in Italy), but for one thing I don't understand all the spaces to be filled in. What is "CAP"?

In the catalog, I would like to have seen one website where all the web-pages linked to by the codes would be, so that I didn't have to use a mobile phone to get them. But now I see that there is quite a bit in English at https://giocotarocchisiciliani.jimdo.co ... sezione-i/. You just click on the relevant item on the sidebar. For example, clicking on "articoli" and then "Maggio" brings up her English translation of Pollak's report. So perhaps that's it.

Re: IPCS ... The International Playing Card Society

#5
Mike wrote ...
Then in the evening came the presentation and practice session of Sicilian tarocchi, of a particular sort found in one or maybe two Sicilian towns. It was a partnership game in which the partners change each hand, and who they are is known to only one of the players. I never would have imagined such a thing, but there it was. And other wrinkles. The exhibition catalog (on which more later) has a two page summary of the rules, in Italian. The "unknown partner" mechanism is dealt with there, whether in enough detail to be comprehensible to someone who has not seen it in practice I do not know. It works.
Doppelkopf ... a game which I played a longer time ... has an unknown partner mechanism. The partnership is decided by 2 cards (in Doppelkopf the two Queens of club; Doppelkopf is played with two identical sets of 20 or 24 cards, totally 40 or 48 cards). The both players, who hold them, play together. The other players, who have none of them, play also together, naturally. If the case appears, that both Queens are at one hand, then the player with both, can call a partner (sometimes an Ace, but Doppelkopf knows variants).

.... .-) ... Something curious appeared yesterday. On my daily walk I met in the park an older pair in an heavy dispute with a young woman and two kids and a dog. The reason was, that the dog had left some shit and the young woman hadn't noticed. The older lady had told her about it (it's a duty to gather such objects), the young woman might have gotten it in the wrong throat and so the conversation became nasty. It took about 200 meters to approach the battlefield, and I was then successful to convince the older pair, that it wasn't worth it. We had then some walk together with a first part to calm down the emotions, and a later part, where we had more friendly themes. We talked about games ...
The woman played a card game in her youth in the Westerwald (a not much populated region) called Solo with normal 32 cards, and I didn't know it, and in this game the club Queen is called "Mensch" and is the highest trump. This game had - as far I got from the description - also a 4-player-structure and unknwn partner mechanism
This made me curious ...

It wasn't easy to identify it in the web. I finally discovered a Deutsch-Solo or Deutsches Solo, said to be old and having descended from the once very popular Spanish L'Hombre, internationally far spread from the 17th century on. L'Hombre means man, not too far from "Mensch".,
Sicily had a lot of Spanish influence.

Here is a German description ...
https://www.casinostest.de/enzyklopädie/deutsches-solo
Deutsches Solo wird mit vier Spielern gespielt. Verwendet wird ein Skatblatt mit 24 Spielkarten, aber ohne die 8 und die 9. Das Ziel des Kartenspiels ist, mindestens vier Stiche zu erhalten. Sei es als Einzelspieler oder im Team. Die Gegner müssen versuchen, dass zu verhindern. Derjenige, der neben dem Kartengeber sitzt, darf beginnen. Er kann alleine spielen, eine Trumpfkarte nennen und gegen die anderen drei Gegner antreten, oder er sagt den Trumpf an und ruf ein Ass als Partner auf. Zudem hat der Spieler die Möglichkeit, zu passen. Dann ist der nächste Spieler dran. Sollten alle Spieler in einer Runde passen und „weg“ sagen, dann muss der Spieler mit dem höchsten Trumpf, das ist die Dame, ein Ass ausrufen, welches dann den Trumpf bestimmt. Diese Aktion nennt sich „Verscheih“.
"er sagt den Trumpf an und ruf ein Ass als Partner auf" .... The deciding player declares the trump suit and then calls an Ace. In that situation only one player knows, who is his partner, the person, who holds the Ace. Two players know, who is not their partner (the deciding player) and the deciding player knows nothing.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: IPCS ... The International Playing Card Society

#6
Very interesting. The Sicilian game is similar to the Spanish one to the extent that one person, who has one or more of the "aire" "calls" (not the Ace, but a higher "aire" that he or she doesn't have) and the person who has that card knows from that action who his partner is. Or something like that. I missed that part of the explanation and only saw it in action, with the teacher's partial explanation.

Added: at https://giocotarocchisiciliani.jimdo.co ... sezione-i/ it is said, after discussing the Catania cards:
Another early deck, little known due to the damage affecting it but interesting as a comparison, is kept in Turin's Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria, and is the subject of a recent study by Thierry Depaulis , who has documented the original look of some of the cards. Historically accredited as a tarot deck despite its lack of Trionfi, and generally attributed to the Venetian school, it confirms the spread of a common creative model in Renaissance Italy.
Where can I read this study by Depaulis?
Added later: Depaulis emails me: "Tarots et autres cartes du XVe siècle exposés en 1880 à Turin",The Playing-Card, vol. 46, no. 3, Jan.-March 2018, pp. 126-139.
Since I subscribe, I should have remembered!

Added later: looking at https://giocotarocchisiciliani.jimdo.co ... li/maggio/
I see in her translation of Pollak two passages about the appearance of the date 1428:. First, the introduction, called "General remarks" begins:
Each card in this rare series measures 18 cm in height and 9 cm in height [sic!], whilst it has a thickness of about 2 mm., made up of several layers of thin paper glued together. It is known that for the making of playing cards used paper was generally employed and in our case we can see, in fact, paper with traces of writing and even with a date which gives us a terminus post quem: in fact, on card no. [5], whose layers are partly detached, we can read Bernardin …. 1428. It is a curious coincidence, as it was St Bernardine of Siena who preached against the improper use of playing cards!

Then in discussing card No. 5 (the stag-rider) he says:
On the back of the card there are traces of writing in ink, so among other [?] St Bernardine (of Siena) is mentioned, and the date 1428.

A very strange coincidence, as on the very sheet of paper used for making a playing card that very saint should be named who in 1423, in Bologna, preached with great success against card games (Willishire, ibid., p. 26).
Given that Bernardino was active in 1428, it strikes me that the passage in question might be about the saint's activities then, from which we can deduce nothing about when the date was written there, except that it was after 1428, perhaps well after, given the saint's fame, if it is about him. He died in 1444; perhaps it is part of an obituary. That would make it closer in time to the "Charles VI" as dated by Depaulis (c. 1460).

Re: The 2019 IPCS convention and the exhibition "Il Mondo in Mano"

#7
mikeh wrote:
13 Oct 2019, 02:49
Then in the evening came the presentation and practice session of Sicilian tarocchi, of a particular sort found in one or maybe two Sicilian towns. It was a partnership game in which the partners change each hand, and who they are is known to only one of the players. I never would have imagined such a thing, but there it was. And other wrinkles. The exhibition catalog (on which more later) has a two page summary of the rules, in Italian. The "unknown partner" mechanism is dealt with there, whether in enough detail to be comprehensible to someone who has not seen it in practice I do not know. It works.

The Sicilian game is similar to the Spanish one to the extent that one person, who has one or more of the "aire" "calls" (not the Ace, but a higher "aire" that he or she doesn't have) and the person who has that card knows from that action who his partner is.
This type of play is known as variable partnership. It originates from Cinquillo or Quintille, the five-handed form of Ombre first attested in the 17th century. It was very popular and adapted to four-handed games. The four-handed Tarock games of former Austria-Hungary exclusively uses this method with the exception of Royal Tarokk, a Hungarian game invented in 1980 that has fixed partnerships. It can also be found in variants of French Tarot. The game you played is from Mineo where the contractor calls for a trump. The Calatafimi variant has the contractor calling for a king. Dummett's partial reconstruction of the 18th century Sicilian game suggests that calling a trump was an option.

Re: IPCS ... The International Playing Card Society

#9
mikeh wrote:
14 Oct 2019, 22:12
Given that Bernardino was active in 1428, it strikes me that the passage in question might be about the saint's activities then, from which we can deduce nothing about when the date was written there, except that it was after 1428, perhaps well after, given the saint's fame, if it is about him. He died in 1444; perhaps it is part of an obituary. That would make it closer in time to the "Charles VI" as dated by Depaulis (c. 1460).
I date the Catania and Charles VI cards to the same time, or rather from the same workshop and close enough that the time between them is historically irrelevant. It is interesting the Maggio has pushed the date into the 1440s - on what basis? I haven't read her translated paper yet. But I can certainly accept that dating. I see no reason they cannot be from the early 1440s in fact. The only two things that constrain my datings for these cards are 1) the inference of the total data on carte da trionfi references that the game itself cannot have been invented earlier than 1437, and 2) the appearance of the Florentine innovation of using the hourglass in their newly invented allegory for Time in illustrations of Petrarch's Trionfi in manuscripts and cassoni, which Simona Cohen shows must be shortly before 1450. Cohen is not aware of the Tarot uses, as far as I can tell (I am surprised at myself that I have never bothered to write her about it). I have no theoretical objection to giving Tarot priority over cassoni in preserving the image, so 1445 remains highly plausible. The only manuscript cognate to the two Tarot hourglass-holding Vecchi dates itself to 1459, possibly from Pesaro,.


http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/time/2649det.jpg

Full page

http://www.rosscaldwell.com/images/time ... fol46r.jpg

For Bernardino's activities in 1428, I have only looked a little, but I have this -

“From Lucca [September 1427], Bernardino must have returned to Siena, since, as we learn from the autograph MS. of the ‘De Evangelio Aeterno,’ he was engaged, in the latter part of 1427 and the earlier part of 1428, in the composition of that course of sermons at Siena. On this occasion he stayed in venerablili conventu Senarum, which must mean the convent of S. Francesco where he had been admitted to the Order twenty-six years before; and where he could enjoy the advantages of a first-rate library. In Lent, he labours at Siena were interrupted by his memorable visit to Arezzo [March-April, for Lenten preaching (Easter was April 20)] and his subsequent hurried journey to Milan [summoned by FMV for “urgent business,” but no further details; political, or personal? His wedding to Maria of Savoy took place 24 September 1428]; but we have no further information concerning his doings in this year.”

From A.G. Ferrers Howell, S. Bernardino of Siena, London, 1913, p. 169. For Bernardino’s itinerary in 1427-28 he relies on Amadio, which is Padre Amadio Maria da Venezia, “Vita di S. Bernardino da Siena,” Venice, 1744; Siena, 1854.

https://archive.org/details/sbernardino ... e/page/168
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Re: IPCS ... The International Playing Card Society

#10
Thanks, Ross. I still have some questions, which I expressed briefly and may elaborate on at some point, but not yet.

Thierry writes that his article about the cards in Turin is "Tarots et autres cartes du XVe siècle exposés en 1880 à Turin",The Playing-Card, vol. 46, no. 3, Jan.-March 2018, pp. 126-139. Since I subscribe, I would have noticed, but I guess I forgot.

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