Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

Here is another couple of findings from Franco's search through inventories of minors' inheritances, "Firenze 1472-1474. Naibi tristi e trionfi in un sacchetto," Again, comments in brackets are mine, and Franco has corrected some errors.

Florence 1472-1474. Worn-out naibi and triumphs in a bag

Franco Pratesi

1. Introduction

I present here the results of a short study which can be considered an appendix to a much longer investigation in the same collection of the State Archives of Florence (ASFi). The section is that of the Magistracy of Minors before the Principality, which I probed again recently. In particular, I have already reported the news of two packs of naibi on sale in Ponsacco in 1421 together with various ceramics, [note 1] and of one pack found in 1426 in the Vecchietti house. [note 2] For me, finding the record of the second case indicated was like reaching a long-established goal, after which I could finish the search without regrets. Instead, I found myself “returning to the scene of the crime,” to examine a couple more registers from that same series of Samples and Revised Data.

Here I report on two findings in a register studied recently, and for any other details I refer to the two previous studies cited. In this case, following Inventory N/60 of the ASFi, we find: No. 172, Sample of inventories and revised data, Quarters of S. Spirito and S. Croce, from 1467 to 1475. The book has the usual large size of royal [reale, roughly = metric A3 or 11x17 inches] sheets and the usual thickness of a dozen centimeters. Curiously, they restored the register, pleasantly enriching it with a heavy leather binding with metal studs, which, from the back, partially goes up to the front with two closing bands or straps. Incredibly, however, the binding was fixed upside down so that upon opening, the last pages of the register are found upside down, thus ruining all the value of the work.

2. The worn-out naibi

The Naibi are met on folio 249v. We had already seen that meeting naibi in a private home was an extremely rare occasion. Here, after the first exceptional case, a second one immediately presents itself. Maybe the rarity wasn't so marked then? I do not think so. However, in this case, the inheritance is indicated as that of Franciescho di Nicholaio Biliotti; we are in Florence, and the year is now 1472, already a full generation after the Vecchietti pack, practically an entire century since Naibi had arrived in the city. Let us see what we read in the relevant part of the inventory of household goods.
ASFi, Magistracy of Minors before the Principality, No. 172, f. 249v
(Reproduction prohibited)


1 cupboard cloth
2 pieces of cupboard cloths
12 pairs of old underwear and several fabric socks
3 mended napkins and 1 with holes
29 pillowcases of several sizes with nets and without nets
8 hand towels of several sizes
1 women's handkerchief
12 napkins of various sizes, both good and worn-out
1 children's shirt and 1 piece of linen fabric with several rags
1 little mattress for a small bed a bordo [near a wall or a big bed?]
1 pair of much-used naibi or playing cards [paio di naibi overo charte da giuchare tristi]
4 tin plates…
4 tin plates…
13 small tin bowls…
17 tin bowls…
3 tin plates…
1 pair of spurs
1 children's small harpsichord
Obviously, we are only interested in one line in particular of the inventory, but even the nearby lines are very useful for identifying the context of the conservation of the playing cards, evidently among objects reserved for family use, all of which are of no particular value. The same line of greatest interest contains more useful information.

To begin with, the adjective triste [literally “sad”] sounds curious today, because no one uses the term with that meaning anymore. Imagining discontented or desperate playing cards today would make one think of extravagant fairy tales with flights of fancy that here are completely off-topic. In fact, the same adjective is also found a few lines above this entry, and moreover, it is encountered very often in these inventories. The meaning in these cases is “worn out, used up, become barely usable.” This reporting is very important because it directly affects the commercial value of the object, and it must not be forgotten that these are inventories of household goods within a complete economic evaluation of the inheritance to be administered. Therefore it is more than logical that it is reported when an object presents itself with a value reduced to only a fraction of what it could have been worth even when used if still in good condition.

The double name of the cards [naibi, charte da giuchare] remains, and this is also an important fact. The terms separated by “or” [overo] might seem like a normal repetition, inserted for greater clarity, but in my opinion they are not. They would have been many years before, when the two terms could really have been synonymous. [note 3] I think that in those years, if it had been new playing cards, they would no longer have been called naibi, but everyone would have called them only “playing cards,” carte da giu/o/care. But those in the inventory are not new cards; they are old and badly damaged, and in my opinion they are also of a type that is no longer in circulation - and if by chance you see them, they are cards with which only a few grandparents can still play.

I recognize that the above is just my idea, not based on certain data, but what convinces me is the fact that it is not the first time I have come across such a lexical combination. Also in a previous study, the terms were encountered together, whether of decks of playing cards or odd naibi, in 1462. [note 4] And then the interpretation of one circumstance ends up confirming that of the other.

Why then was there the need, or at least the usefulness, of using a double name? Because those cards were naibi, but whoever saw them for the first time needed confirmation, as if they were saying:
3. Some examples (1407-1429) in F. Pratesi, Giochi di carte nella repubblica fiorentina, Arachne 2016, pp. 209-211.

"even these cards called naibi, with their own pictures, were used as playing cards, exactly like those of today."

This is the second deck of naibi found in a private home among the hundreds in which inventories of household goods were compiled for inheritance reasons in the fifteenth century. The hypothesis that, for one reason or another, none could be found had already been discredited by the first discovery. Going from one to two decks now is not a very significant progress, also because almost half a century has passed from the first to the second; however, if nothing else, the fact is also confirmed that it was not by strange chance that the first deck was found together with objects of little value.

3. Triumphs in a bag

If finding a second pack of naibi in an inventory from half a century later could not arouse great surprise, the same register has reserved another one for us: in an inventory registered on f. 313v, we encounter the first deck of triumphs in an ordinary house!
In this case, the legacy is that of Brano di Nicholo Gherardini (or similar surname) of Florence. As usual, below is a reproduction of the text and the transcription of the part of interest.
ASFi, Magistracy of Minors before the Principality, No. 172, f. 313v
(Reproduction prohibited)

1 local hand towel . . . with holes
1 local hand towel with holes . . .
1 Parisian-style hand towel
1 white Neapolitan blanket with more holes
1 pair of triumphs in a bag
6 used shabby overcoats for men
7 pairs of used men's underwear
1 pillow covered with taffeta of Brano
1 Milanese knife with black handle
That old naibi could be found in the company of objects of little value could no longer arouse a strong surprise to us. Here, however, we find a pack of triumphs next to holey linens and seven pairs of used underwear!

To be able to include it in the list of precious tarot cards preserved by the ducal courts, at least the bag containing them would have to have been made of brocade, with gold threads and gems incorporated into a very luxurious decoration. However, it is much more realistic to instead admit that at that time even triumphs were objects of common use, so much so that only when new, and perhaps in versions with more careful workmanship, could they maintain a certain commercial value.

In my opinion, triumphs in Florence were not luxury objects even at the beginning, precisely because they spread in the same environment as Florentine card makers and players who certainly had no intention of spending fortunes on objects intended for consumption characterized by very quick depreciation. In the case in question, there was no longer even a possible push of fashion or novelty: by now a good generation had passed since triumphs had been introduced into players’ use.

If I can advance another personal opinion, I would say that it is a great disappointment that this bag did not reach us with the pack of triumphs inside; today it would in fact have been very useful for setting certain limits to the endless discussions on the extraordinary tarot cards that have reached us from the ducal courts.

4. Conclusions

When I thought I had concluded the research on possible decks of naibi preserved in private homes in Florence and the surrounding area, I continued a little further, tracing a second deck of naibi in Florence in 1472 and even a deck of triumphs in 1474. In both cases, it clearly dealt with everyday objects. The triumphs were simply stored in a bag, among used linen. For the old Naibi, the term, which has been in use for some time, of playing cards, is added. Ultimately, they were rarely inventoried items, but of little value.

Florence, 02.23.2024
Last edited by mikeh on 18 May 2024, 10:50, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

Here is another translation, this time of one done in April. At least I am getting it done the same month. I have skipped quite a few in between. As usual, Franco has reviewed the translation and made important suggestions. I have added in brackets some comments that may assist the Italian-deprived reader. The original, "Firenze 1736-1737. Conti della bottega dell’abate," is at

Florence 1736-1737. Accounts of the shop of the abbot

Franco Pratesi

1. Introduction
Here we examine an unusual book of accounts, in which the income and expenses of a shop are recorded monthly for one year; it is a shop that presents itself as both a coffee shop and a "citrus-water-dealer," as sellers of orangeade and similar drinks were called in the eighteenth century. We do not know if the shop was located within the city of Florence, as seems probable, but it was certainly located in Florentine territory. What makes these accounts particularly interesting for us is the fact that cards and other games were played in the shop; we can therefore render an account of the contribution of gaming to management profits, which does not happen frequently.

2. The account book

The book in question is preserved in the collection Books of Commerce and Family of the State Archives of Florence (ASFi). In Inventory N/422 of this collection, the register is described as follows.
Number: 622
Name: Boncinelli / Balestrieri
Date: 1736-1737
Title attributed: Journal of income and outflow for gaming and administration of drinks kept by Filippo Balestrieri, cashier
Original title: “Income and outflow”
External appearance: Register cm. 30.5x21.2 97 pages, of which pp. 4-33, 41-97 are blank. Parchment portfolio binding [where the bottom overlaps the top and is usually closed by a knot in a ribbon]; guard sheets [end pages, of rougher material to protect what is inside]; soft leather laces
As you can see, it is an entire book dedicated to this administration, but most of the pages have remained blank: two distinct parts are found to have been written: at the beginning, five pages for revenue, and after the middle of the book, thirteen pages for expenses.

It was possible to transcribe the contents of the account book in full, thanks to a summary that made it possible to include the data in two tables, one for income and one for expenses. Notes have been added to indicate the few cases of records with additional content compared to the standard form adopted for individual entries.

3. Income register

For each entry, a typical formula is repeated, which is obviously lost in the table. For example, the July 31st gaming entry reads as follows. From Game surpluses and deficits, seventy lire which so much has been received this month from the cash box of Game takings. Or the entry of April 30th for drinks: From various drinks on our account, six hundred and fifty-nine lire, so much received from the shop's box for the daily takings in the present month.



4. Outflow register

The outflow register is richer and more complex. In order to summarize the contents of the book relating to the releases in a subsequent table, I deemed it necessary to adopt a system of abbreviations, listed in the following table.
For each entry in the book, in addition to the goods indicated by the acronyms, the list ends with and others, making one think of small secondary purchases present, or in any case possible. [In what follows, the mmdd format– month-day - is Franco’s, to make clear the succession of months; the original has the day first, i.e., ddmm.]




5. The people involved

The management of the shop arouses some curiosity. Based on the monthly payments, the functionary Filippo Balestrieri stands out from the other employees, referred to as boys [here in the sense of assistants]. Balestrieri appears as the cashier, but also directly follows the purchases and participates in the management. The boy with the highest salary is fired early on, perhaps due to some shortcoming, perhaps only to replace him with one with a lower salary. Boncinelli has an unclearly defined role as manager: he does not receive a salary, and it is not clear to what extent he participates in the activity and the related profits. The uncertainty in this regard is very large; in short, at most, this Giuseppe Boncinelli could have been the main manager of the shop and the real manufacturer of the drinks, carrying out the appropriate and profitable mixing of the many raw materials purchased.

On the other hand, the role of Abbot Giuseppe Antonio Biliotti is quite clear, even if it is not, or should not be, the typical role of a Catholic abbot: it is he who provides the initial capital to start the business! Games included. It is not very important to know whether this investment will then be compensated by interest on the loan or by a fraction of the profits, or by both sources. Considering his title, the daily presence of the abbot in the management of the shop appears unlikely.

It is worth looking for information about this abbot in other sources. We do not find him among the authors in the bibliographical repertoires: he was evidently not committed to publishing religious or even literary works. However, by inserting his name into Google Books we can trace him back to an Edict in which we also find him interested in Redeemable Bonds; in 1727, the extraction of his name [in a lottery] allows him to withdraw the sum of a thousand scudi for his ten policies. [Note 16]

Even more interesting, however, is another piece of information, which can again be found in the ASFi. In the Magistracy of Minors of the Principality, an entire series of auction registers of various objects deriving from the inheritance of minors is preserved, in which the purchase at very reduced prices was typical, and on one occasion we find our abbot himself the protagonist. [Note 17]

In September 1719, twenty lots of inherited objects were put up for auction and sold for a total of L.5127.S18.d8. Three of these were won by our abbot himself and they are the most expensive: L. 840 for No. 1123, the first and most expensive on the list, and L. 308 for the two lots 1133 and 1134 taken together. I transcribe below the objects that made up the three lots.
16. Editto Degl’Illustrissimi SS. Protettori del Monte Redimibile della Città di Firenze. Del dì 5. Maggio 1727. . . Florence 1727.
17. ASFi, Magistrato dei Pupilli del Principato, N. 3409, pp. 103-105.


1123. N: Five oval-shaped paintings, 1½ arms high, painted Portraits of the Most Serene House [i.e. the Grand Duke’s family], carved ornaments and gilded features in the Roman style.
1133. A bed of 4 arm lengths and 3 arm lengths - that is, 2 small benches, palliaces
[thin straw mattresses used as pallets], two wool mattresses, and its curtainry, that is, six satin curtains, a bedside chest, sleeves, and a festoon made of Hungarian stitch, and its carved wood cornices, dyed Turquoise, and partly gilded.
1134. N: Six walnut chairs with armrests in the Imperial style, four of which are covered with stitching, and the other two covered with canvas, gilded brackets, and leather.

6. Conclusion

An entire account book was studied and transcribed in summary form, of a shop where coffee, chocolate, and a vast assortment of drinks manufactured on site were served, and what was more, there were the games of backgammon, trucco, minchiate, and other card games, unspecified. The profit obtained directly from the games, documented by what was found in the dedicated cash register, would be unflattering: the income deriving from the game was in fact only a small fraction of the total, but it is easy to suppose that without the playing of the games, the profit obtained from the drinks would have been considerably less, because few customers would have entered the shop if there had not been the possibility of gambling. That games were played, and quite a bit, is indicated by the variety of games which continually include minchiate and ordinary cards, but also games of different types such as trucco and backgammon. That the gaming activity was extensive is indirectly demonstrated by the consumption of candles, even in summer when it gets dark very late.

Of particular interest was the figure of Abbot Giuseppe Antonio Biliotti, financier of the start-up of the shop's activity - including gaming - whose accounts were reported; information was found for him from various sources, confirming his quality as a lively entrepreneur: there are only three pieces of information traced for him, but they all see him engaged in speculation. In short, his documented activity does not seem perfectly compatible with his religious mission, but there are other traces of wheeler-dealer abbots in the literature and the archives.

Florence, 02.04.2024
Last edited by mikeh on 18 May 2024, 10:51, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

That's a very interesting study giving a slice of life in a Florentine town in the early 18th century. The picture described reminds me of mid-20th century soda shops in the US. Except they had electric lights, not candles!

It's too bad this Abbot Biliotti left no writings, and we know nothing of his religious activities. They would round out the picture, he could be a character in a novel.

Thanks for translating and discussing Franco's essays, Mike!


This would seem to be him, in addition to the books Franco found. I'm not familiar with the kind of document this is, but Abate Biliotti plays a big role in it. Pages 457-474: ... 22&f=false

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

I am now ready to post another note concerning another note of Franco's, this time about inventories relating to Petrarch, of which the most interesting lists a "paio di trionfi In charta pechora di messer franc° petrarcha" - a pack of trionfi in parchment of Messer Franco Petrarch." He also revisits the inventory of the Rosselli shop that we've discussed before (search on this forum "Rosselli" and then "inventory").

I have added a few comments in brackets for clarification when there was no simple translation that captured the idea, checking with Franco to be sure. He went over it and as usual was indispensable, but any errors are mine. There were a few words in the inventory that we could not translate; they are indicated in quotation marks. The original, "Firenze 1478 e 1479: Trionfi del Petrarca in case private," is at

For some reason, the Forum software would not allow the publication of the link in footnote 7, nor more than a few words of pages 5 and 6. These seem to be allowed when entered in another post, so Franco's text will appear in two parts.

Florence 1478 and 1479: Petrarch's Triumphs in private homes

Franco Pratesi

1. Introduction

That the Petrarchan poem I Trionfi [The Triumphs] has something to do with the origin of the tarot is assumed by the majority of historians. The problem is that the characters of the Triumphs are six and the "triumphal" cards added to the tarot deck are twenty-two, and how to go from the first number to the second finds no concordant reconstructions among scholars. I have in mind an entire book in which the suggested connection is direct and immediate: the tarot was apparently invented by Petrarch himself! [note 1] But this, too, is only one of the many proposals for which it is very difficult or even impossible to find any confirmation. However, two fixed points remain: the six subjects of the poem are found in the tarot and, perhaps even more importantly, in the tarot we find the fact that the subjects are inserted in a series, such that the subsequent one prevails over the previous one, just as in the poem.

Alongside the literary theme, the artistic-figurative one has developed to the point of becoming prevalent. Research on the illuminated manuscripts of the Triumphs has been of particular interest. These manuscripts, however, spread with a certain delay compared to the first copies, which lacked figures.

As often happens, there is a subdivision of experts: on the one hand, academics, writers, and art historians who study the Triumphs in depth in their literary and artistic context without a particular interest in the tarot; on the other, experts on tarot who, independently, put forward their hypotheses on possible connections.

My impression, however, is that in no similar situation has there been a rapprochement between the two camps as in this particular case. I imagine that a notable part of the credit is due to the academic level of Michael Dummett, who took a deep interest in the question from the height of his chair as an esteemed professor of philosophy at the University of Oxford, laying with his fundamental book [note 2] the foundations for a kind of revolution in the sector. Today it so happens that cartophile experts who discuss the topic are also following the results of academic research step by step, so that the distinction between the two fields has become much narrower. An example can be found in discussion that has been ongoing for years on Tarot History Forum.[note 3] In the opposite direction, it is possible to read works by art history professionals who renounce the usual verbosity and, starting from The Triumphs, [note 4] arrive at the tarot.[note 5]

I am unable to participate constructively in person in the details of the discussion. However, I would have liked to take advantage of my greater proximity to possible Florentine sources to make new contributions, in particular, in this case, on the presence in the homes of fifteenth-century Florentines of both the manuscripts of the Trionfi and the card game of trionfi [triumphs]. Up to now my search had yielded no results; I can now report one, which unfortunately isn't early enough to be as useful as I would have liked.

2. Documents studied and information of interest

I recently communicated the first results of the search for naibi and triumphs in the inventories of household goods preserved in the registers of the collection Magistracy of Minors before the Principality of the State Archives of Florence (ASFi).[note 6] Of this large format series, I have already provided the principal
1. R. Fusi, R. Pio, Tarocchi: un giallo storico. Firenze 2001.
2. M. Dummett, The Game of Tarot. London 1980.
3. viewtopic.php?p=13174#p13174
4. A. Labriola, “Da Padova a Firenze: l’illustrazione dei Trionfi,” in: F. Petrarca, i Trionfi (ed. I. G. Rao). Castelvetro di Modena 2012.
5. A. Labriola, "Les tarots peints à Florence au XVe siècle." In Th. Depaulis, Tarots enluminés. Paris 2020.

indications. I have now extended the study, in this case to a single register: N. 174 Sample of inventories and revised regulations for the neighborhoods of Santo Spirito and Santa Croce from 1475 to 1479.

I spotted two interesting objects. The first is certainly a manuscript of the Triumphs, the first that I was able to find in these inventories - while, for example, dozens of Dante manuscripts could be listed. I copy and transcribe the relevant part of the inventory below; between quotation marks are uncertain words, but the reading of the others can also be improved.
Screenshot 2024-05-05 at 17-41-52 Triopetrtrans5-2.pdf-min.png
1 Booklet covered in black with goatskin parchment of “chonsumi tudina”
1 Booklet of Messer Lionardo d'Umiltà in papyrus covered in red
1 Book of the triumphs of Petrarch [trionffi del petrarcha] covered in red
1 Book in French covered in red
1 Booklet of rhetoric by Tulio
[Cicero] in vernacular (i.e. Italian] in goatskin parchment covered in purple
1 Booklet, little, with fixtures
[locks?] [/i] covered in red
1 Book of "Dante and of. . .," very old in goatskin
1 Book of the Council of Basel, covered
1 Book, old, of French verses
1 Book without boards [/i][in the bindings] of historiated French verses
1 Book without boards covered as above
This is a group of books that is part of a library much richer than average. The deceased owner was Francesco di Antonio di Tomaso Nori. The date on which guardianship was taken of Francesco's son Francesco di Francesco, approximately 11 years old, is May 23, 1478.

The second can be read on f. 309v among other various objects, and I again reproduce and transcribe the relevant part.
Screenshot 2024-05-05 at 17-41-14 Triopetrtrans5-2.pdf-min.png
2 new towels
1 worn table knife
1 purple belt packaged equipped in white silver “per asse” and weight 8 oz. 12 denari
[1/24th of an oz.]
1 pair [paio] of triumphs [trionfi] in parchment of messer Francesco Petrarca
2 purple articles of clothing worn-out and torn
1 good small white upper garment of Soventona
The starting date of the registration is August 5, 1479. The deceased is Zanobi di Francesco di Nutto, goldsmith. Among the real estate, several houses are listed in Tignano, in Val d'Elsa near Barberino, but it is not clear from here whether the family lived permanently in that village.

3. Comments on the two objects reported

There isn't much to comment on about the book. The case would have been different if the book had been richly illuminated and provided with a detailed description of the images for us; on the other hand, even in an ideal case of this kind, the date, distant not only from the writing of the Triumphs but also from the appearance of the game of triumphs, would still weigh heavily [against providing documentation of a direct connection between Petrarch and the game].

A comment is perhaps necessary on the rarity of such recordings. As I wrote for the naibi in the studies cited, one should take into account the possibility that other recordings of this kind have escaped my observation, but the result is the same: the presence of other specimens cannot be ruled out at all, but not many can have escaped. Instead, there are two further possibilities for the absence of these objects. The first is that the book of the Trionfi was listed as a book of poems, or a book in Italian [as opposed to Latin] or similar, without specifying its title and author; the second is that the Trionfi was kept aside by the owners before the inventory was compiled. (The latter is not my hypothesis, but that of an expert scholar of the period who claims that a notable part of the books preserved in private homes was later found to be absent in these inventories.)

Instead, “a pair of triumphs in parchment of Messer Francesco Petrarca” is an inventory item that requires at least as many comments as there are written terms. We start immediately with the "pair." If this term had not been included, one would have thought of another book of the Trionfi, written, or at least bound, in parchment. Now, however, we know that writing “a pair” here was equivalent to “a pack,” and this is sufficient to exclude any book of the poem. In short, we are faced with a real deck of playing cards. We just need to continue the discussion on these cards, to better specify their type.

Thus we encounter parchment, which was not at all predictable for 1479, when in its place we would have expected to find rag paper by now. Why parchment that late?

All in all, the answer this time does not seem difficult. A new deck of cards is not being recorded here, bought a few days earlier; it could have been in the house for decades, because it was evidently an object worthy of attention, respect and . . . conservation. However, not enough to make it considered a precious object, because it is enough to observe the environment where it was found and the objects with which it was preserved to exclude any extraordinary value. In short, it seems quite clear that the alternative arose, as often happens with old objects, of whether to keep it or get rid of it.

We are left with "messer Francesco Petrarca," the well-known author of the Triumphs. Yes, precisely of the Triumphs, not the triumphs, unless you believe the reconstruction mentioned at the bottom of the page in the first note. I don't remember ever having read, except in that book, about a Petrarch who was also the author of the triumphs.

In the end, 1479 no longer seems to us so late: for such information, that date still maintains great validity, because it can be compared with the present day. In fact, here to associate, precisely directly, the triumphs to the Triumphs is not an exegete of our times, who is struggling to find plausible reconstructions, but Florentines who had seen the appearance of the first triumphs in the city only a generation earlier, or a little more.

Looking perhaps too closely, it remains for us to understand whether that clarification should be read in a general sense, to indicate precisely that the deck of triumphs dated back to Petrarch, or in a particular sense, i.e. added to specify the type in question, in so far as it could have been one of the various decks of triumphs then in circulation. For me the former applies, at least now, but the question will still require a brief discussion.

4. A confirmation after half a century

Several authors who have dealt with the history of playing cards, and triumphs in particular, have repeatedly cited another inventory in the same collection of the Magistracy of Minors before the Principality: that of the haberdashery-stationery shop of Alessandro di Francesco Rosselli. The document, from 1525, was identified in an enormous series of inventories by the historian and archivist Gaetano Milanesi (1813-1895),[note 7] who reported it to Iodoco Del Badia. Del Badia transcribed part of the inventory and published it in 1894 in the Miscellany he edited, together with another document relating to the same inheritance.[note 8]

Unfortunately, finding the original in the ASFi is not an easy task. From the title and the years indicated, the number of the series is immediately deduced as 190, but there is no indication of the folios, and it so happens that this enormous register has just over a thousand, that is, just over two thousand pages, almost all of the inventories. The fact that the dimensions are a little smaller than the royal sheets usually used has little impact for the Revised Samples and Reasons series. There would also be a repertoire at the beginning, on sheets of parchment, and one would even read the name of Alessandro di Francesco Rosselli, but the page indicated is number 52 and certainly does not correspond to the content; moreover, the numbers of folios indicated in the repertoire is just over one hundred and therefore it is clear that it cannot be useful here.

Making the most of my free time, I finally identified the inventory of interest on folios 395-399. With respect to the transcription of the Miscellany, I limit the inventory part to a few entries before and after the triumphs, which I reproduce and transcribe as usual.

7. Entry for Gaetano Milanesi on Treccani website. [On Google, search "Treccani Gaetano Milanese." Franco's original has the actual link. For some unfathomable reason, the Forum software is not allowing it in this post, nor pages 5 and 6 of Franco's text. To be continued.]
8. Miscellanea fiorentina di erudizione e storia. Vol. II, N. 14, 1894, pp. 24-30 – reprinted Rome 1978.
Last edited by mikeh on 18 May 2024, 10:53, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

Continuation of preceding post:

7. ... ografico)/
8. Miscellanea fiorentina di erudizione e storia. Vol. II, N. 14, 1894, pp. 24-30 – reprinted Rome 1978.

1 large navigation map in 4 pieces of eight royal sheets
1 Florence on six "folded" royal sheets
1 large world map in 3 pieces of 12 half-sheets
1 large world map in 9 pieces of 16 common sheets
1 crucifix of a common sheet
1 crucifix of half a common sheet
1 crucifix of half a common sheet.
1 Saint Christopher 1 Our Lady on half a common sheet
1 print of half a common sheet of more saints
17 pieces of the sibyls and prophets doubled
1 game of the triumph of Petrarch in 3 pieces
1 game of planets with their friezes in 4 pieces
1 Saint Mary Magdelene of 1/2 common sheet.
10 forms of rosaries double printed of 1/2 common sheet
2 little heads of God the Father on ottavo sheet
1 little Virgin Mary on ottavo sheet
1 crucifix of brass on ottavo sheets with another
1 angel Raphael of tin on quarter sheet

It should be noted that the two games in this final part of the inventory are among other objects of which the type of paper is indicated, and not that of the material of the blocks used for printing, which could be wood, except for the few cases indicated of different materials. Reading the text as a conservation of entire sheets, they would seem to be kept as models for future productions rather than to be cut to obtain a single deck of playing cards (in the case of the triumph) or small religious figures.

Rather, the other two "games" present in the inventory are in a previous part, which follows a list of books and contains objects indicated as wooden - also for these two games - which also makes their prolonged conservation in the shop more easily understandable.

1 game of apostles with Our Lord in seven pieces of wood
1 Saint Mary of Loreto in two pieces of wood
1 Virgin Mary and Saint Roch and Saint Sebastian in two pieces of wood
1 game of seven virtues in 5 pieces of wood
Among other things, the not-new fact of the three pieces for the triumphs remains to be discussed. Among the few known examples, a possible basis for such a discussion are the Rosenwald sheets; I have already had the opportunity to discuss these and similar cards in the past.[note 9] I imagine that experts have made significant progress in recent times, but I verified on Tarot History Forum that by inserting Rosenwald the answer is "468 matches,” and that number tired me before I started reading.

However, I must observe, with some regret, that if those pieces were of the Rosenwald block type, Petrarch's triumphs in the Inventories of the Magistracy of Minors were not a deck of minchiate, which would have required at least four. On the other hand, still in the hypothesis of blocks of that type, with three pieces a 70-card triumph deck would be formed more simply than with one of 78; but these are always deductions with weak underlying hypotheses.

In summary, forty-nine years later the triumphs - here triumph - of Petrarch are encountered again, but together with other "games" with saints or mythological characters. This news has created a lot of confusion over time, especially because some authors have interpreted these "games" as possible decks of different playing cards. It should also be considered that decks of cards that are both ancient and out of the ordinary are known, especially from Germany, if only for the symbols of the four suits.

In reality, in these inventories I have recently found the same term "giuoco" several times with an uncommon meaning, but one which is well suited to the case in question. For example, there are games of containers or measuring cups to determine the quantity of wine or other liquids, that is, not one but a series of measuring cups to be used depending on the specific case (and presumably the "game" of that series consisted in the possibility of placing them then one inside the other). Or games of tools, always meaning small series of objects of the same kind but of complementary size or type.

In conclusion, the information provided by Del Badia, instead of introducing decks of playing cards with different characters into the discussion, ends up being only a confirmation of what was discussed here, namely that only the triumphs were particular playing cards and, above all, always connected to the Triumphs, at least in the eyes of the Florentines, which is no small thing.

Florence, 03.16.2024

ADDENDUM: When I examined the original document from the Rosselli workshop, I had the Rosenwald sheets in mind for comparison. The fact that we were reading triumph instead of triumphs did not impress me, because even the card game was sometimes referred to in the singular. In short, I had no doubt that even in this case “Petrarch’s triumph” was related to the deck of cards, even if the term pair, which is really decisive, did not appear here. The only doubt was initially whether there could also be other decks of cards among the items indicated together.

During the English translation, Michael Howard pointed out to me the sheets present on the Internet of the triumphs of the Rosselli workshop, to which I had not paid attention earlier on. These are approximately 26x17 cm images, and thus, by far, too large with respect to any known playing-cards.

So, as in the other items present together in the Rosselli workshop, even for this only one – the triumph of Petrarch – for which I supposed to find playing cards, a different solution will have to be studied. It is with this aim that Michael Howard is continuing the research.

Florence, 03 May 2024

(The addendum is added in English. By "even for this only one" Franco intends that this comment is meant to apply to this one inventory and not to the previous one about the "paio di trionfi.")
Last edited by mikeh on 06 May 2024, 09:38, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

Hi Mike,

Regarding Rosselli, remember this conversation from 2013
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=31&p=14125&hilit=h ... lli#p14125

And this post, linked in that one -

Art historians and print specialists have long identified these "giuochi" as "sets", and the Trionfi in particular have survived.

I'll get the relevant pages up from Hind and Zucker. Zucker is the latest to have written on the Rosselli inventory, as far as I know, in 2000.

They are here, for instance, numbers 236-240, about half-way down the page:

Rosselli's Triumph of Love, missing at the page above, is at the British Museum, here - ... 883-0310-7

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

Yes, of course, about the 2013 discussion. I was going to give the references, but you were too quick for me. For others, if you search for "Rosselli" and then among those results "inventory", you will get 17 hits, of which the two by Ross are the most important.

There is no need to get Hind. I scanned his comments and will post them. I didn't do that for Zucker.

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

mikeh wrote: 06 May 2024, 09:45 Yes, of course, about the 2013 discussion. I was going to give the references, but you were too quick for me. For others, if you search for "Rosselli" and then among those results "inventory", you will get 17 hits, of which the two by Ross are the most important.

There is no need to get Hind. I scanned his comments and will post them. I didn't do that for Zucker.
Ah, very good.

Franco's remarks about "giuocho" meaning something besides a literal "game" are correct in the case of Rosselli, at least as art historians understand it. But his new discovery of a "paio" of Petrarch's Trionfi adds another wrinkle to the question, then. Could paio have the same range of meaning as giuocho?

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

Here is Hind's appendix on the inventory (Early Italian Engravings, I'm not sure what volume):

More to follow, from a previous volume, about the engravings themselves, dimensions, etc., followed by my discussion of particular items, which I will pull out.