Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

Good start. Just needed some polishing.

I have put a few of my own comments, always pertaining to the translation, in brackets. A few things: a merceria is a shop principally devoted to fabrics and sewing supplies, but also things in paper; in the UK, it is called a "haberdashery", in the U.S. a "dry goods shop" or "notions shop." Now that people don't do much sewing, they've been replaced, in the U.S. by "crafts" shops, while Tarot cards are usually found either in bookstores or New Age shops. In reference to archives, the closest English equivalent to "fondo" is "section," Franco once told me. I don't know what "meçane" means. Huck says "machine", but I can't verify that. In Catalan it is the plural of "meçana", meaning "apple". But I don't know what apple cards would be. Perhaps it is a place. I can't see that Franco addressed the issue.

I hope people will point out errors that remain.


Florence 1462: playing cards in a dry goods shop

Franco Pratesi

1. Introduction

After a long break, I started visiting the State Archives of Florence [ASF] again. The collections of documents preserved are so numerous and rich in information that studying in that environment is very promising for useful findings, whatever the specific sector of research. There is also a further possibility, impossible to encounter in any home search on recently digitized databases. In the ASF, you can meet scholars and researchers willing to share the results of their research. Years ago, I happened to meet one, Lorenz Böhninger, who informed me of one of his findings with interesting news for the history of playing cards. (Footnote 1)

With the distance of time, a friend once again reported to me one of his discoveries, an inventory of a dry goods shop in the Antecosimian [before Duke Cosimo I] Notary. Over many years I have had the opportunity to investigate many ASF sections, but I have always stayed away from the Notary. In truth I have looked for things even in that section, for example Giusto Giusti’s [footnote 2] documents, but only in a limited number of cases and for a specific reason. I have more than one justification for this laziness of mine. The enormous number of documents that have been preserved, and even more, the fact that they are usually protocols or abbreviations - copies of documents quickly written by the notary to keep them in his books, therefore easy reading . . . but only for the one who wrote.

As if that wasn't enough, I had the opportunity to talk with a scholar who for professional reasons had leafed through hundreds of these books. To my question, if she had come across any information on playing cards, she replied that she had never encountered any. Here the question is complex, because in the old literature we read that some scholars instead reported having found numerous attestations of the naibi precisely in that section, without this being of any interest to them for their research and without indicating precise references. One possible explanation is that if archivists come across terms like naibi, or trionfi, or germini, they will hardly be able to connect them with playing cards if they do not know their very old history.
In many inventories of the period that I have examined in other collections, playing cards are never present, or almost never. I would have concluded on a statistical basis that decks of playing cards were either kept only in taverns, where players borrowed them for a game, or, if they were present in private homes, they were considered perishable goods - in short, non-inventoriable, worthless material.

Obviously, the situation is different if the inventory concerns what is kept in a dry goods shop, or (a case which has not yet occurred in the fifteenth century to my knowledge) in a card maker’s workshop. However, my friend found playing cards [i.e., decks with just the ordinary four suits] with their "modern" name in the fifteenth century, and also triumphs. This discovery concerns the inventory of a dry goods shop, of which I will limit myself to examining the playing cards.

2. Comment on the data recorded

The occasion for drawing up the list of goods contained in the dry goods shop in question is the death of the dry goods shopkeeper, Matteo di Paolo Corsellini, and the need to list all the goods in the shop to pass them on as an inheritance and satisfy the creditors. In this circumstance you can be sure of the correspondence between the goods listed and the goods actually contained in the shop. I copy below from the inventory of 1462 (note 3) only the entries of specific interest for playing cards.
1. The Playing-Card, Vol. 44, No. 1 (2015), 61-71.
3. ASF, Notarile antecosimiano, 17967, pp. 240r-242.

End p. 1.

Beginning p. 2

[Document text - Franco puts this part in a box]

65 paia di carte da giuchare del dona
17 paia di carte di Meo di Tingho meçane
2 paia di trionfi g° da Giovanni
10 paia di trionfi piccoli g°
11 paia di carte meçane da g°
5 paia di carte piccole d.g°
12 d. di carte picole rimbocchiate da giuchare
3 paia di carte g° doppie del dona
1 cassetta di piu naibi spaiati

65 pairs of playing cards of [or by] dona
17 pairs of Meo di Tingho meçane [apple, mechanical?] cards
2 pairs of triumphs g° of [or by] Giovanni
10 pairs of small g° triumphs
11 pairs of meçane playing cards
5 pairs of small d. g. cards
12 d. of small folded-back playing cards
3 pairs of doubled g° cards of dona
1 small case [or box?] of several odd [or unmatched] naibi]

That a deck of cards was referred to at the time as a "pair" is known from many other documents. I think that the abbreviation stands for “game,” that is, “for playing.” The cards folded over were those where the margins of the larger rear sheet were folded over and glued onto the front sheet of the card, making the union of the two glued sheets more stable, usually along with an internal piece of cardboard. We are left perplexed by the abbreviation d, which in cases of this kind always means dozen - in this inventory, there are many such, so many that one suspects that by writing d. he had understood “pair” [i.e. deck] instead of “dozen,” because in this context it is more reasonable to expect twelve decks of cards rather than 144.

As can be seen, more than a hundred decks of playing cards are listed in the inventory, divided by type and origin. A notable part is made up of cards “of dona.” I imagine that Dona is simply the nickname for Donato, as is done even in recent times, especially among friends and close acquaintances. It is not possible to trace from this name the personage involved, who could be a card maker unknown to us, or a retailer, including of playing cards, typically a dry goods shopkeeper colleague of Corsellini.

Among the cards “of Dona,” the ratio of 65 to 3 between “cards” and “cards doubled” suggests that the latter were of a more expensive and less used type. In the past, I have encountered "Naibi doubled" several times and also discussed various possible hypotheses in this regard. (Footnote 4)

The “odd naibi” are quite surprising, starting with how the name appears in a context in which "cards for playing" already appear. The different term would suggest leftovers from an older card model, now outdated by the fashions of the time. The term "odd" [also "unmatched"], however, would be better explained if applied to a set of individual decks completed by different manufacturers rather than to individual cards. Incomplete decks are not compatible with the game, and furthermore, storing spare cards in the shop to replace any damaged or lost cards for customers seems unlikely.

A particular case, probably the most important of all, is that of the two decks of triumphs “of Giovanni.” Here we find very interesting data. Let us begin with the reduced number of two decks. This fact is enough to make us understand that these were something different from the usual, different, too, from the five times more numerous small triumphs based on the same model. We do not know the exact number of cards in triumph decks of the time. Experts debate the question, with hypotheses ranging from a deck of 70 cards consisting of the four standard suits and a fifth new superior "suit," all five of 14 cards, up to the 78-card deck that we know of later on. In any case, it was a deck used for a particular game, with few or no variations, and which certainly required a greater commitment in manufacturing. From other sources we know that the cost of these decks was higher, and we also know that they were produced in rather limited quantities, facts which are confirmed here.

Of further interest is the name of Giovanni, due to its origin. One can't be one hundred percent sure on the identity of this Giovanni, but in fact there was a famous Giovanni at the time, ....


End of Page 2

Page 3

.... who in his vast and varied production appears to have also produced triumph decks. (Footnote 5) It would be none other than the younger brother of Masaccio, Giovanni di Ser Giovanni of Castel San Giovanni, known as Scheggia. (Footnote 6)

What remains are the decks of cards of uncertain origin and the seventeen decks of Meo di Tingo. Looking for a Meo di Tingo in the usual repertoires, also online, we find several, but some are clearly from years too far away. The one most commonly mentioned is the Meo di Tingo of Brucianesi, who was responsible for the transport of the Portinari triptych from Pisa to Florence by water in 1483. (Footnote 7) In this case, it would not be a card maker, not even the keeper of a dry goods shop, but a carrier, who appears in any case involved with the transport of works of art - at least on that occasion. You could then imagine an ancillary activity for him as a distributor of packs of cards in the various locations that he went to for work; however, the different profession and the years between this inventory and the transport of the triptych are such as to leave strong doubts about a hypothesis of this kind.

3. Other people involved

There are two other people involved, the notary and the keeper of the dry goods shop. The notary, Donato Rimbotti, is of some interest, because he was a notary from San Miniato [then outside the city – trans.]. It would seem easier for a Florentine notary to operate in the countryside than vice versa, but from reading the notarial deed it is certain that this dry goods shop was located in the center of Florence.

The keeper of the dry goods shop had a surname - which in itself was indicative of a higher family level than average ‒ that of Corsellini. In the Florentine Tax Registry [Catasto] of 1427 there is another Corsellini, Bonacorso, son of precisely Paolo and furthermore a dry goods shopkeeper. (Footnote 8) One can then think of the same dry goods shop with ownership passing from an older sibling to a younger sibling; such a direct kinship remains, however, impractical, due to the temporal distance of several decades. If the relationship existed, it was of a different type. Interestingly, however, this Bonacorso Corsellini was not just any dry goods shopkeeper: at 74 years of age and with an income much higher than average, he was the head of a family of eighteen; it could be a kind of family clan in which several related families practiced the same profession of dry goods shopkeeper, with greater or lesser success. Ultimately, staying firm with the profession, it is of secondary importance whether it involved one or more workshops.

4. Conclusion

Some information has been commented upon about playing cards and triumphs present in a dry goods shop upon the owner’s death in 1462. Considering the research sector, the main people involved are obviously the card makers, but of these we have sufficient information only of Scheggia (if it is him, as is probable), because among his works there are several that were highly appreciated at the time and have been the subject of multiple studies, including recent ones; therefore, to consider him a manufacturer of [ordinary] playing cards seems very reductive. The most interesting datum here, however, is the presence of triumphs almost certainly produced by him. The fraction of these special cards out of the total - in reality in rather limited numbers - is in agreement with the recorded data in other documents preserved from the time, which confirms the greater value and lower production of these cards. Of the other two named, Dona and Meo di Tingo, I found no information for the first and very uncertain information for the second; specifically, it is not at all certain that they were card makers.

Florence, 02.12.2023 [Dec. 12, 2023]
6. L. Bellosi, M. Haines, Lo Scheggia. Florence 1999.
7. C. De Benedictis (ed.), Il Patrimonio artistico dell'Ospedale di Santa Maria Nuova di Firenze. Florence 2002.
8. ... d=50000028.

End of text

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

Thanks, Mike ...
I've worked on this, also I've written a private letter about the translation problems.

Translated with help from the Google Translator (insecure translation) from ....7/15. Firenze Tre libri di conti del Quattrocento (18.10.2023)


Florence – Three books of fifteenth-century accounts
by Franco Pratesi

Page 1
Several years ago I found useful information on naibis and triumphs in account books of fifteenth-century Florentine workshops, especially haberdashers.(Footnote 1) I recently started doing some research again in the sector and here I report on three other account books, preserved in the State Archives of Florence. Documents on the family and commercial administrations found in this large archive are innumerable, but the quantity is considerably reduced if we limit ourselves to the first half of the fifteenth century, or slightly beyond. For this period usually in the various funds you can either find nothing or at most
encounter only the first few terms of a long series that holds much more documentation for the following centuries. Therefore the set of books to be selected is composed of scattered elements, with different business sectors. Unfortunately, the hope of finding something useful for our research on playing cards is therefore focused more on the presence of some random and exceptional information, as no specific sector can be identified in the preserved documents.

1 Tommaso's newspaper by Luigi Ridolfi and fellow beaters
1.1. Introduction and motivations
The account book in question is No. 1744 of the Strozziane Papers. It is part of the fifth series, the last, rather independent from the others and with documents of more varied origins. By the way, in Inventory N/197 we read the following. “Fifth series - 1772 pp. (14th – 19th centuries) Donated to the Archive of State by the Paolozzi Strozzi family in 1937; it is the family archive of the Filippo Strozzi branch and of his sons Lorenzo and Giovan Battista known as Filippo the Younger, preserved in Palazzo Strozzi dalle lines that lived there from the mid-16th century.” (Footnote 2) In particular, the book in question belongs to the Fund Ridolfi and in the same Inventory we find it indicated in this way.

Order number 1744. Ridolfi Fund. Journal of Tommaso by Luigi Ridolfi and fellow beaters in Florence - Martelli 8. Marked A. Register bound in parchment with leather straps. Remote extreme 1447, Extreme recent 1450.

[Original text:
Numero d’ordine 1744. Fondo Ridolfi. Giornale di Tommaso di Luigi Ridolfi e compagni battilori in
Firenze - Martelli 8. Segnato A. Registro rilegato in pergamena con corregge di cuoio. Estremo remoto
1447, Estremo recente1450.]

I saw a possibility of finding news of interest in this book. As a rule, it are only hopes of identifying some useful trace, without any guarantee that the search will be successful. The possible connection with playing cards, which were then the naibi and from generations a few years even the triumphs, is found in the very profession of the gold beaters. The production of very thin gold sheets was essential for the backgrounds of panel paintings and others artistic and artisanal productions, including playing cards. For sure, playing cards with bottom gold were not common. At the time the naibai used wooden matrices and the use of gold was limited to luxury specimens to be sold to great lords. However, there was also an intermediate version of the cards, that of the "crowns", in which fragments of gold leaf were used to decorate the paper playing, only the kings' crowns, or a few other suitable superior cards, typically present in trumps. (?)

1.2. Immediate negative surprise and conclusions
The information that can be gleaned from this book is interesting, but not specifically
playing card industry. .....

1 F.Pratesi Playing-Card Trade in 15th-Century Florence. IPCS Papers No. 7, 2012.
2 https://archiviodistatofirenze.cultura. ... iane_V.pdf
Page 2
..... It seems possible that different gold-beating shops had differentiated productions dependent on customers. In other words, it is not possible to obtain valid information for the entire sector from one shop. There must have been customers who turned to gold beaters to purchase gold sheets for their production, but not to this shop. Here the clientele is mainly those of nuns from the main Florentine convents, and less frequently individual embroiderers or weavers, and even some swordsmiths. In all cases observed, however, the gold was not sold in foil, but in wire; changed only the size and packaging. I knew that gold thread was the best-selling product for her importance in the production of brocades and other luxury fabrics, but I didn't think it was the only one. From the abundance of recurring sales, one conclusion that can be drawn is that to the Florentine nuns there was little time left to pray and therefore in the classic "ora et labora" obedience to the second precept had to prevail.

2. Book of Entry and Exit by Lorenzo di Dietisalvi and company
2.1. Introduction and motivations
This is again a goldsmith's shop. After studying the previous book, I tried to look for others in the State Archives to obtain confirmation of production. I found one in the back Manuscripts. In Inventory N/187, the book in question is described as follows.
Lorenzo Neroni MCCCCLVII / To the name be etc. / This book is by Lorenzo di Dietisalvi and company
gold beater, called Entry and Exit marked A. It goes from 1457 to 1459. N/187 Paper codex, in quarto, of
cc. 81 written from 1 to 12, from 30 to 48 and from 60 to 79. It is divided by Input and Output of florins and Output of £. Bound
in parchment, with refilling. On the cover: Entry and Exit A, and by more recent hand: 1457 and 1458 by
Lorenzo di Dietisalvi Neroni. (Footnote 3)

[Original text:
Lorenzo Neroni MCCCCLVII / Al nome sia ecc. / Questo libro è di Lorenzo di Dietisalvi e compagnia
battiloro, chiamasi Entrata e Uscita segnato A. Va dal 1457 al 1459. N/187 Codice cartaceo, in quarto, di
cc. 81 scritte da 1 a 12, da 30 a 48 e da 60 a 79. È diviso per Entrata e Uscita di fiorini e Uscita di £. Legato
in cartapecora, con riboccatura. Sulla coperta: Entrata e Uscita A, e di mano più recente: 1457 e 1458 di
Lorenzo di Dietisalvi Neroni.]
The reason I decided to look at this account book was simply to check in a second shop whether the production consisted exclusively of gold thread.

2.2. Reading and conclusions
While consulting this book of accounts I encountered two reading difficulties, largely unexpected. There first is that the handwriting is not easy to read, at least for me even though I was quite trained. That is it means that even when the words are written with the intention of being read without problems, I personally find some problems. Additional there is a second difficulty, let's say of a higher level. Much writing doesn't just require being read by a handwriting expert; would not be sufficient. There is a prevalent amount of abbreviations, acronyms, and you might say scribbles, which would require reading by a specialist in commercial writing and related "syntheses". Let's be clear, this is not an encrypted writing, but "simply" something that resembles our shorthand. Sales material is rarely written legibly, while name and surname (or patronymic, or convent) of the customer or supplier are usually the only terms quite readable.
From this premise it follows that in the accounts under examination there may be numerous useful information that escaped my reading. (On the other hand, I would exclude obtaining information from it that is not actually contained therein.) In all this uncertainty, there are few fixed points. One is that in at least two cases I read clearly "gold leaf". In short, somehow I had an answer to the doubt whether these craftsmen by now they only produced threads. It would then be said that, probably to a much lesser extent, the traditional production of thin gold sheets was maintained. Here for me there is also a problem technician. I know well that the great ductility of gold also allows us to obtain very thin sheets or wires. However, the equipment and skills are different in the two cases; even later it would be used rolling between cylindrical rollers or extrusion drawing through dies. .....

​3 https://archiviodistatofirenze.cultura. ... critti.pdf
End of page
Page 3
.... I don't think a necessary step to obtain the thread was the classic very thin sheet produced by thread beaters.
Above all, I missed the connection I was looking for between the gold sheets and the painters, and maybe even the manufacturers of playing cards and luxury trumps. Unfortunately, the only craftsman registered enough of frequent, who was not a silk weaver, a weaver, or a nun, is a certain Andrea di Matteo scissors,
profession that doesn't help our research much.

3. Book of give and take by Cipriani di Simone
3.1. Introduction and motivations
This study originated from the indication of an account book in the Archive Inventories of State of Florence. The fund in which it is found is that of Purchases and gifts, which it understandably contains scattered pieces of various origins. Furthermore, the book in question is part of a group for which it is suitable: Unknown provenance. In Inventory N/184 we read the following.
No. 83 Ins. 2 Book of debits and credits by Cipriani by Simone di Guiduccio di Spicchio of the people of S.
Michele Visdomini of Florence. 80 numbered and 3 unnumbered cards 1417-1472. 4

[Original text: N. 83 Ins. 2 Libro di dare e avere di Cipriani di Simone di Guiduccio di Spicchio del popolo di S.
Michele Visdomini di Firenze. 80 carte numerate e 3 non numerate 1417-1472.]
My curiosity was piqued by the date and also by the location. At the time, these account books of simple private individuals were frequent, as far as I know, only in Florence. There were all kinds, too, because, unlike other cities, many Florentines were able to write and keep accounts. Once the task of small-scale administration was over, almost all these books were then recycled for the most varied uses, including using the sheets to wrap goods. To be stored there
they wanted particular conditions, often completely random and independent of the "value" of the object.
This is not one of those account books of haberdashers, retailers or minor silk workers who I had studied, but S. Michele Visdomini is in the city centre, between the Duomo and Santa Maria Nuova and items of interest to me such as chess expenses or playing cards. A look may be worth it, because for the specific sector we still need it to specify various news from the first half of the fifteenth century.

3.2. Immediate negative surprise
As soon as I browsed through it, this account book turned out to be very different from what I had imagined. Partly because it is precisely a book of give and take, as indeed was correctly indicated in the Inventory; that is, the credits are listed and, below, the various installments with which they are paid. The negative surprise was that the environment is not that of the city center but that of Empoli and above all of surrounding countryside. In short, it is an agricultural administration, as hundreds of them were documented in Tuscany in the following centuries. The goods sold are mainly grain and wine, but also timber and canes for vineyards. As the years go by, additional sales are also added such as, for example, bricks obtained from a kiln.
A property of the records that is immediately noticeable is the meticulousness in describing not only, obviously, the amount collected and who delivers it, but even the exact place where the delivery took place. As an exemplary case of this fussiness I can cite the following. “Ane given ghuglielmo adimarj maneuver in his house on the table on the eighth of November 1424 S eight of quatrinj ”. [Original text: “Ane dato ghuglielmo adimarj
manovero in casa sua in sulla tavola ad viiij di novembre 1424 S otto di quatrinj”.]

3.3. Unexpected positive surprise
It turned out that our citizen-countryman was very meticulous in his recordings. Coincidentally, it is precisely this particularity, apparently of minor importance, that made this book of interest to us. Thinking about the interest of the whole book is an exaggeration, because in fact we are not interested in anything at all about all those agricultural-commercial transactions. .... However, thanks to fussiness, we find a recording that interests us quite a bit.

4 https://archiviodistatofirenze.cultura. ... doni_I.pdf

End of page 3
Page 4

Automatic translation:
Domenicho di Berto gives five and a half lire to a tree on [here...] L. 5 ½
Ane dated eleven April days on the bench of Soraglio cobbler L. 3 S. 6
Ane given S. 8 and those mide when I played naibj S. 8
Ane dated 27 October 1419 unopra to do the [pol… to luctricieto]
of messer ruggiero for all S. ten S. 10
I pay bad money

[Original text:
Domenicho di berto mide dare lire cinque e meço duno albero il [qua…] L. 5 ½
Ane dato grosi undici addi daprile in sulla pancha di soraglio alzolaio L. 3 S. 6
Ane dato S. 8 e quegli mide quando giuocavo a naibj S. 8
Ane dato ad 27 doctobre 1419 unopra a fare la [pol… a luctricieto]
di messer ruggiero pe tutto S. dieci S. 10
pago di mala moneta
My involvement with the Naibi is such that I often glimpse that strange word in many of the writings of difficult to decipher, even if most of the time I have to recognize that they are names and objects completely different. But this time the naibi remained, and where I no longer expected to meet them.
Of course, the information does not bring us news of great importance, nor with specific useful details. However, it allows us to imagine a peaceful environment, a game to be considered a pastime; if our master had found himself in a group of avid players intent on playing doomed, thesituation would not have been suitable either to receive the money owed, or to remember and record it for registered later. In this context, a peaceful game, with little or no risk, is more consistent connected. The memory seems serene and rather allows us to imagine a peaceful pastime, perhaps with
a carafe of wine and some glasses taken from the innkeeper together with the deck of cards, if not actually in
family sphere.
Florence, 10.18.2023

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

With a little imagination, that was fairly readable English, Huck. Just a few things.

(1) "Tommaso's newspaper by Luigi Ridolfi and fellow beaters" should be "journal" (for giornale) of Tommaso di Luigi Ridolfi (just one person) and company, gold-beaters";

(2) "of the Filippo Strozzi branch and of his sons Lorenzo and Giovan Battista known as Filippo the Younger" should be "of the branch of Filippo Strozzi, known as Filippo the Younger, and his sons Lorenzo and Giovan Battista."

(3) "dalle" in the next clause needs to be translated (unlike the "di" after Tommaso"): "of the" or "from the."

(4) Instead of "Entrance and Exit," "Input and Output" is an alternative, as you have for one occurrence. These are reported in WordReference as accounting terms for "earnings" and "outflow". But perhaps Franco does mean "Entrance and Exit." It is colorful enough.

(5) "bottom gold" should be "gold undercoat" or "gold base".

(6) "naibai" should be "playing card makers".

(7) "her importance" = "its importance".

(8) "problem technician" = "technical problem".

(9) "trumps" = "triumphs". (The difference is that in English "trumps" means just the priveleged suit, whereas "triumphs" can mean the whole deck (or else, in particular contexts, just the trumps).)

(10) "scissors": according to the GDLI (, it is "Chi fab­brica, ripara o arrota le forbici," one who makes, repairs, or sharpens scissors; also "Worker responsible for cutting heavy machinery metal plates". In the context of gold foil, perhaps one who cuts the sheets. Since there isn't a precise English equivalent, I'd leave the term in Italian and explain in brackets: "cutter, or one who makes, repairs, or sharpens scissors."

(11) "give and take" vs. "debits and credits" in the next paragraph, for "dare e avere". If the Italian is the same, so should the English. Since the usual Italian word for debit is "addebito", and what they gave were not only goods but services (e.g. delivery, work in the home), "giving and taking" is probably better ("give and take" in English refers to negotiations for mutual accommodation), or even "givings and takings" (WordReference has "takings" as one translation of "avere." Later Franco uses the word "credito", for which "credit" is appropriate, as you have it.

12. "condemnata": I think Franco is referring to a Tuscan card game (see, so in English capitalized with an explanation: "Condannata" [Italian card game: the title means 'Doomed']. It seems to me that it was mostly a forbidden game, because of the agitation it produced, as Franco reports the towns as saying in the link just given.

Then there are the translations of the document entries, especially the ones at the end. Translations often just leave these in the original, especially if the writer being translated doesn't translate them into whatever current language he was writing in. It is very difficult. You are to be credited for at least giving it a try. But Google Translate is something anyone could do, and it is not designed for early 15th-century mercantile scribblings in Tuscan. In my opinion, a translation should do more, especially if it is the most important set of sentences in the whole note. But it is rather obscure, so probably we can't get it all.

The first entry he gives you translate as
Ane given ghuglielmo adimarj maneuver in his house on the table on the eighth of November 1424 S eight of quatrinj ”. [Original text: “Ane dato ghuglielmo adimarj manovero in casa sua in sulla tavola ad viiij di novembre 1424 S otto di quatrinj.
This leaves much untranslated or dubious, so that as a whole the sense is very unclear. Perhaps Franco could help, especially since some of the words reappear later in Franco's most interesting finding, about the game of naibi.

"ghuglielmo adimarj" = Guglielmo Adimari", both common names in Florence.

"viiij" = 9.

"otto di quatrinj" = "eight quatrini" [small denomination coin in Roman times equal to 4 denari, in Italy one-third of a soldo, according to Wikipedia].

"S" is important because it figures into the next entry. Perhaps "soldo," since there is an entry "L. 3 S. 6," and "L" seems to have been used to indicate a unit of money previously, i.e. lire. If it is "soldo", it is odd that he doesn't say how many. Perhaps "one soldo" is understood.

Franco has been examining many of these account books, so it would be worth asking Franco to confirm what "S" and "L" mean, unless he says it somewhere and I missed it.

There is also "manovero". "Maneuver" in Italian is "manovre," so that is a good guess. But it doesn't fit the context: it might be "handiwork" or some such thing, from "mano" and "vero" = true hand.

The next quotation is the most important in the whole note, so it deserves more than just "automatic translation". At the very least, indicate in brackets that "naibj" = naibi, i.e. cards.
Automatic translation:
Domenicho di Berto gives five and a half lire to a tree on [here...] L. 5 ½
Ane dated eleven April days on the bench of Soraglio cobbler L. 3 S. 6
Ane given S. 8 and those mide when I played naibj S. 8
Ane dated 27 October 1419 unopra to do the [pol… to luctricieto]
of messer ruggiero for all S. ten S. 10
I pay bad money

[Original text:
Domenicho di berto mide dare lire cinque e meço duno albero il [qua…] L. 5 ½
Ane dato grosi undici addi daprile in sulla pancha di soraglio alzolaio L. 3 S. 6
Ane dato S. 8 e quegli mide quando giuocavo a naibj S. 8
Ane dato ad 27 doctobre 1419 unopra a fare la [pol… a luctricieto]
di messer ruggiero pe tutto S. dieci S. 10
pago di mala moneta
"Mide" occurs twice. You left the first occurrence out of the translation. I can't find a definition online. In context, "made" would make sense, but I can't believe that medieval Italian would have such a similar word. "Made" = "Fatto" in Italian. "To me of" would be a translation of its individual parts.

I am puzzled by the brackets. Is "qua" there or not? Or is Franco unsure? The same in the fourth line.

"meço" as a form of "mezzo", resulting in the "5 1/2" on the side, is very helpful. I suspect it might explain the "carte meçane" in the first December piece - half-cards, I wondered. Then Franco wrote me to explain that it was middle-sized cards. Of course, since piccolo is for the little ones.

Of course this money was not given to a tree. Literally, it is "of [or from] a tree." Perhaps "at a tree", which he specifies in what is missing. Or "for a tree" that he purchased or had work on for the 5 1/2 lire.

In the next line, "dato" is translated "dated" and then in the next entry as "given". Since the context is similar, you'd expect the same meaning, one or the other. In Italian "dated" is "datata", and "date" as a noun is "data." There is "dato" with an accent on the o, meaning "They date," but that makes no sense in context. Moreover, the same verb appeared in the previous line. And this is a book of givings and takings. So probably "given" is correct. On the other hand, where are the "avere," the takings, other than what was given for the tree?

Then what would "ane" mean? The GDLI says it is the plural of "ana", meaning "Pena che abbatte; sforzo, affanno, i.e. "pain or penalty that destroys, strain, anxiety". This doesn't fit, unless he is recording a fine. But that is not his business, fining people. If it were, he'd lose customers. It probably is an abbreviation for something, but I can't guess what.

And what is "grosi"? A variant of "grossi"? That doesn't fit. And "addi"? Is it simply "day"? According to the GDLI it is an obsolete formula indicating a transaction during the day, merging ad and di. Is "Soraglio" really someone's name? I've never heard of it. Or a misspelling of "serraglio", meaning "living quarters." If "alzolaio" means "cobbler", then it should be spelled "[c]alzolaio" On the other hand, "al solaio" would mean "in the loft or attic", or "at the slab", the part separating two floors of a building.

I can't guess what "luctricieto" means. And "mala moneta"? What is bad money? Money made evilly? Bad debts? Well, I don't know. But it seems relevant to know more. "unopra" is probably "some work"

Franco says that the guy was collecting money from one of the players. But if "dato" means "given," it would mean that he gave money, implying he lost.

Well, it would be nice to know what people think.

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

(2) "of the Filippo Strozzi branch and of his sons Lorenzo and Giovan Battista known as Filippo the Younger" should be "of the branch of Filippo Strozzi, known as Filippo the Younger, and his sons Lorenzo and Giovan Battista."
No, you're not right
"S" is important because it figures into the next entry. Perhaps "soldo," since there is an entry "L. 3 S. 6," and "L" seems to have been used to indicate a unit of money previously, i.e. lire. If it is "soldo", it is odd that he doesn't say how many. Perhaps "one soldo" is understood.

.... Franco has been examining many of these account books, so it would be worth asking Franco to confirm what "S" and "L" mean, unless he says it somewhere and I missed it.
Isn't it ... "L. 3 S. 6," = "3 Lire, 6 Soldi"? I remember, that in other account books this was quite a common way to address money .... 1 lira = 20 soldi = 240 denari.


It is generally a difficult text.

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

You're right on both counts, Huck. In an email, Franco confirms that interpretation of "L" and "S", which was always the most logical one.

On your first point, to prevent confusion in English, it would be better "of the Filippo Strozzi branch and his sons Lorenzo and Giovan Battista (known as Filippo the Younger)".

Franco also confirms that "the book of give and take" would be more accurately "the book of input and output." "Dare," or "giving," means what is given to him or his company in return for their products; "avere" or "taking" is their expenses.

Franco also addressed, in an email to me, the issues I raised about the two quotations and proposed translations responsive to my questions. In the first case:
Ane dato ghuglielmo adimarj manovero in casa sua in sulla tavola ad viiij di novembre 1424 S otto di quatrinj
he says that "Ane" is short for "a ne," equal to modern "ha ne," meaning "has of it." "Dato" is "given." "Manovero" means a laborer or craftsman. And it's 8 soldi, not 8 quatrini, but given in quatrini. So
Guglielmo [William, in English] Adimari, laborer [or craftsman], has given of it [the amount owed] on the table in his house on the 9th of November 1424: 8 S[oldi] in quatrini [small denomination coin equal to 4 denari or 1/3 of a soldo – thus 24 such coins here].

Translator's note: ane = ha-ne = has of it. Ane dato = Out of the total due he has given - as follows. Only found in account books of the time.
We almost have the second one, mentioning "naibj." I just had one very minor question about what he wrote.
Last edited by mikeh on 23 Dec 2023, 09:18, edited 2 times in total.

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

In the preceding, I have corrected "ha ne," to be translated as "has of it," meaning "of the amount owed."
Here again is the original of the second case:
But now Franco has a suggestion for the "la [poli]". It is probably "lapole," plural for a type of mountain plant, in English called burdock.
Domenicho di berto mide dare lire cinque e meço duno albero il [qua…] ----------------------L. 5½

Ane dato grosi undici addi daprile in sulla pancha di soraglio alzolaio-----------------------L. 3 S. 6
Ane dato S. 8 e quegli mide quando giuocavo a naibj------------------------------------------------S. 8
Ane dato ad 27 doctobre 1419 unopra a fare lapole a [luctricieto]
---------di messer ruggiero pe tutto S. dieci-----------------------------------------------------------S. 10
---------pago di mala moneta
"Di Berti" can be read as "son of Berto". The first "mide" is short for "mi deve". The part in brackets is a word that Franco could only make out the first three letters. In the next line, "Ane dato" is the same as previously: "has given of it." "Grosi" is probably a variant of "grossi," a unit of money apparently here equal to 3 soldi: 11 of them amount to the total indicated at the end of the line. It is unclear what "soraglio alzolaio" means, but "Soraglio cobbler" is possible, reading "alzolaio" as "calzolaio." In the next line "mide" is short for "mi dette", "he gave me." "Unopra" is "a work," but in English we'd say just "work." In the final line "pago" = "pagò" = "he paid". "Mala moneta" is "false money."

Domenico [Dominic, in English] son of Berto has to give me [mi deve dare] five lire and a half for a tree on [qua..., word unclear]-------------------------------------------------------------5½ L[ire]

Given of it [the amount owed] eleven grosi ([grossi – coins, apparently here with the value of 3 Soldi] on day [number absent] of April on the bench di soraglio alzolaio [of cobbler Soraglio?]-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3 L[ire] 6 S[oldi]

Given of it 8 S[oldi] and those he gave me [mi dette], when I was playing cards----------8 S[oldi]

Given of it on 27 October 1419 for work cutting burdock at [luctricieto, spelling and meaning unclear]
---------of Mr. Ruggiero [Roger, in English]; for everything, ten S[oldi]--------------------10 S[oldi]
---------paid in counterfeit money.

Translator's note: "Ane" = "has of," but in English the "has" is typically omitted in a note if the subject is not specified. "Addi" = "on [the] day." For "alzolaio," if "cobbler" is meant, the full word would be "calzolaio." "Pago" = "pagò," = "he paid." The brackets in the original are for where it was not possible to make out letters in a word.]
Many thanks to Franco for his patience.

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

Here is another of Franco's recent essays, posted by him on Dec. 2, 2023: Minchiate, Reflections on Design (Minchiate, Reflessioni sul Design, I found it surprisingly thought-provoking. But I will save my thoughts til later.

The footnotes are at the bottom of each page, as in Pratesi's original. Where I had doubts about how to translate a word or phrase, I have indicated them in brackets. They are very few. At one point, Franco says "voluti arrivare fin qui," which literally would be "wanted to get so far"; my suggestion was "got so far". Another issue is how to translate the names of the court cards we call Pages and Knights; the publications on minchiate speak of Jacks and either "Horses" (in quotation marks) or Knights. Since the meaning of the term "fante" is one consideration Franco brings up, as having military connotations, I have translated it as "Page", which has that connotation. "Jack" does not; moreover, speaking of female Jacks is a little awkward. Apparently the word for the knight card is Cavallo, the same as in chess, and not "cavaliere." I had no idea. It makes a difference in Franco's text. I also didn't know that the term for the suit with gold medallions is called "ori"; I always thought it was "denari." Finally, I translated "presa" (taking) as "trick-taking power." These are very minor details.

Dec. 2, 2023: Minchiate, Reflections on Design

1. Introduction

Years ago I wrote two books essentially dedicated to chess design.1 My basic approach was that priority should be given to pieces designed for the game, rather than those aimed solely at collectors. In reality, chess players will hardly be convinced by a new model that replaces the traditional Stauntons, even if from a design point of view it was more valid. I realized that players of any game and sport tend to be against innovations in professional objects, and I have also verified a similar situation among card players.

Now I happened to reflect on the issue in the case of minchiate, because a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to observe in practice this ancient game of my city. In reality I have only seen games played with two experienced players and two beginners at the table. If my practice of the game is poor, this is not strange, because there have been no experts for more than a century, and only recently Renzoni and Ricci have learned the game again and are committed to re-spreading it. 2 However, the experience of observing the difficulties of beginners even only in "reading" the cards was useful.

Thinking about the different types of playing cards, we soon come across the difference between those for players and those for collectors. Sylvia Mann's great teaching, valid for all cards, should have been a perpetual lesson for collectors: look for the decks that are played with today in every part of the world and those that were played with in every era, not those never used to play, even if they show artistic illustrations as beautiful as you want.3 Yet the many artists who today undertake to design original decks of cards do so for artistic interest, precisely without taking into account any advantages or inconveniences for those who use those cards to play. The goal is not for the newly designed deck to be purchased by many players, but for it to strike the fancy of enough collectors to purchase it for their own collection. Also when thinking about a new minchiate deck, we soon come across this dilemma.

2. The minchiate deck

The minchiate deck is unique in the sense that no other tarot deck with 97 cards is known. The main peculiarity consists of the additional cards compared to a normal tarot deck of 78 cards, namely the twelve signs of the zodiac, the four elements, the four virtues that complete the seven overall, minus the Papessa or in any case one of the Papi, lower tarots [tarocchi minori].

Even in this case, decks designed for particular cases, rather than for common play, could be taken into consideration. Of particular interest were, for example, the geographical minchiate, also because in those small maps included in each playing card even remote, newly discovered regions appeared, and therefore still today they are cards of both historical and geographical interest. 4

The "normal" minchiate, those cards that have passed through the hands of many players, are usually divided into two main models, defined respectively as No. 28 and 29 in the Pattern Sheets of the International Playing-Card Society.5 The first is the older, longer lasting and more widely distributed; the second is the modern one which, introduced in the eighteenth century, then became the preference of Florentine card makers and players, especially in the second half of the nineteenth century, with designs and characters better corresponding to the fashions of the time, whether in clothing or figure. (In what follows
1 F. Pratesi, Scacchi da Venafro al futuro [Chess from Venafro to the future], Tricase (LE) 2017; Pratesi, Observations on Chess Set Design, Tricase [2018].
3 S. Mann, Collecting Playing Cards, London 1966
4 "Atlante tascabile e minchiate del 1780," The Playing-Card, Vol. 47, No. 4 (2019) 252-262.

I will sometimes indicate the second, simplifying, as a nineteenth-century deck.) As an example, I report two cards of the two models in the following Figure.
From: and Accademia dei Germini

The structure of the deck requires some preliminary information, also due to the lack of uniformly adopted technical terms. In fact, there are different terminologies for tarot and minchiate, such as to confuse the descriptions if we discuss them at the same time. Meanwhile, it is always customary to distinguish between lower and higher cards. Those who use tarot cards for divination solve this nomenclature problem by introducing two terms that appear appropriate: minor arcana and major arcana. For me the term major arcana is almost impossible to accept and that of minor arcana decidedly impossible, because at least in the "normal" cards I cannot, with all my good will, see anything arcane at all. The minchiate players called (and therefore the few of today also call) the lower ones cartiglie - except for the prized Kings - and the higher ones tarocchi, i.e. tarots. However, it would not be easy to talk about tarot cards as the superior cards in a tarot deck; there is a lack of suitable terms; I will thus usually use the term triumphs [trionfi] for the higher cards. I know it's arbitrary, because in reality triumphs was the name used in the earliest times for the entire tarot deck, but this way there is less confusion. I will also not use the term triumph rigidly and will also call a triumph a card when the context is clear.

So let's take a closer look at the minchiate deck. As in every tarot deck (except for the reduced ones, used in other Italian and foreign regions) the "normal" cards can, in turn, be divided into the 40 numeral cards, from 1 (Ace) to 10 for each of the four suits, and the 16 figure [i.e. court-trans.] cards, because instead of the usual three per suit of ordinary card decks there are 4 here (let's say Page, Knight, Queen, and King) and as we will see, some have additional peculiarities.

The triumps (including the Fool, which would usually be considered a card apart) are 22 in the tarot and become 41 in minchiate. In tarot they can be considered as an increasing series from 1 to 21, plus the Fool, the twenty-second triumph, to which the number 0 can be associated and which is

independent of the series because it cannot take or be taken, with rare exceptions. Correspondingly, in minchiate there is the Fool and a series of triumphs that goes up from 1 to 40 as the order in trick-taking power [presa].

However, in minchiate (and not in tarot) there is a further distinction among the triumphs, which no longer concerns the order in trick-taking but the score attributed to the given number. First of all, they are divided into counting cards and cards without value. It is not usual in card games to encounter a high card that is then worth zero, and this causes some difficulties for beginners. In my opinion, if you want to design a new deck of minchiate aimed at potential players, you should somehow indicate directly on each triumph card some information on the different values of the card itself, and I will return to this at the end.

3. Reconstruction of a "correct" model

After these premises, one should be able to reflect on the most suitable way to produce a new minchiate pack today, in the twenty-first century. However, fundamental data is still missing. First, we must answer the inevitable question: for what and whom should the new deck be used?

You can consider the game of minchiate as a game that is now completely dead, neglecting the attempts to bring it back to life. By doing so, few people are wronged, while it may capture the interest of scholars of local history, the history of games, and playing cards in particular.

In short, this new deck would be a reconstruction that takes into account, above all, the older model of minchiate, but with some possible influence also of the nineteenth-century type, in order to reconstruct a single deck capable of representing the past of these cards in the most adequate and complete way possible. It seems like an artificial intelligence job to me, to be completed based on the countless decks produced in the past by numerous manufacturers, examined in order to extract the characteristics that distinguish these cards from others, until the individual details are understood. In short, a sort of average minchiate pack as a statistically representative sample, that is, one done in such a way as to reduce the many particular decks to one, thus indicating the entire genus with a single standard example.

However, in this reconstruction starting from the specimens produced in the past, we encounter some difficulties. Minchiate figures are traditionally composed of a main figure and some secondary minor figures of associated objects. For example, there is no Prudence without a mirror and a serpent that belong to it; but there are other cases in which the association is not predictable and is due to reasons that remain more or less unknown to us, such as the porcupine below and the fox above Libra. It so happens that, for both the main and secondary figures, over time, changes have been introduced by card makers, even substantial ones, which in the reconstruction end up forcing us to give greater weight to the older examples.

Another case in which - despite recent "progress" in this regard - it would not be easy to arrive at an average example among those produced in the past, is that of the sex of certain main figures such as the pages [fanti] and knights [cavalli] of the suits, one Papa or two, and even the angel of the Trumpets, who are encountered in the past drawn either as males or females. Only for Gemini could a Solomonic solution be found.

There is also a third difficulty in finding an intermediate model, of a technical nature. What can the intermediary be between an ancient woodcut and a nineteenth-century lithograph that now has an almost industrial character? A challenge may come to mind, so as to technically overcome that dilemma towards current events: switching to color photographs. I seem to have glimpsed tarot cards on this technical basis, but perhaps I saw them in a dream: my experience in the matter is limited. However, it would be enough to gather a group of figures, modify them, dress them appropriately and equip them with the relevant accessories, including animals and monsters; however, not even Disneyland could propose such a masquerade, which doesn't seem suitable to me if in fact you want to reconstruct a standard model of minchiate. 4

Once the task is finished, one way or another, that same deck can also be used both as a standard type for divination, provided that it is associated with a booklet that reveals the arcane meaning of the cards, as well as in the game, provided that it is also laminated and preferably that it goes into the hands of already expert players. In short, we would have created an all-round deck. However, it is possible to more precisely target a new deck of minchiate towards its specific use; we then encounter not one but two different possibilities of this kind: precisely, for cartomancy and for game-playing, with different needs.

4. Minchiate for divination.

The most promising use of minchiate today is in the sector of divination. After all, minchiate is nothing more than an extended variant of tarot and today the prevalent use of tarot, throughout the world, is for divination. There are countless tarot decks designed for this purpose. There are even some packs of minchiate aimed at that market.

Then, once you have identified a tarot deck that you like among the many, it would just (!) be a matter of introducing some changes to customize it and find designs for the twenty missing cards as compatible as possible with the existing ones. Given the fortune of the sector, one might think that the increase in the number of cards available would be considered an appreciable advantage, even if one only uses them to predict the future. It is therefore not surprising if a minchiate pack of this type has already been produced.

Two decks of minchiate that are certainly new, especially the second, and which cannot be considered either the average sample indicated above, or the innovative playing deck that I discuss later, but which could already be used for divination (also because they are equipped with the necessary booklet or leaflet for the meanings of the cards) are those of Solleone, designed by Costante Costantini at a distance of one year apart in the last century. Even in cases where the figures are very simplified, the secondary "little figures" mentioned above regularly appear, as can be seen in the examples in the following Figure.

From: Edizioni del Solleone - Minchiate fiorentine 1980, and Nuove Minchiate fiorentine 1981

5. Minchiate for the game, among those that exist

We come now to Florence and the use of minchiate in the game. This presupposes that there is a certain number, certainly not enormous, of minchiate players intent on reviving the ancient local game. They will need a suitable deck.

The first requirement of such a deck seems in stark contrast to all possible traditional decks: the two outer surfaces must be laminated! This is the only way to guarantee sufficient durability and smooth use. The drawing of the figures, which until now has been fundamental, now becomes secondary, although remaining important and in need of preliminary discussions to define the possible contours.

If one intends to revive the game today, in the twenty-first century, the choice of figures also has its importance. Is preference given to the first model, let's say from the eighteenth century, to the second model, let's say from the nineteenth century, or do we maintain the old game rules but use a newly designed deck? (I would exclude, at least for now, the possibility of a new deck with which to play a new game, although someone might also come up with this idea sooner or later.)

The choice of the first model would mean returning to the origins, when, however, the rules of the game were already those adopted later. Having to revive a dead game, why not go back in time as close as possible to its origins? The woodcut matrices used initially required drawing simple figures, with the bare minimum of lines in the figure, without flourishes, and the suggestion of these images maintains its value, without making the past weigh too heavily.

The choice of the second, nineteenth-century model seems to me to be based less on the figurative- artistic level, but rather on the historical one. Our elders got so far [voluti arrivare fin qui - wanted to get so far?], and today we take their cards back into our hands to continue their gaming activity. We use plastic that they didn't know about, but otherwise we keep the tradition as faithfully as possible. It is then about

going into the details, having a ready-made model but with countless minimal variations in the design of the figures introduced by the various manufacturers, from which to choose or to modify.

The uncertainty of whether to give preference to model one or model two, with its relative strengths and weaknesses, can be resolved with . . . model three, completely innovative.

6. Innovative minchiate for the game

If we intend to start from scratch in designing a new minchiate pack, we can appreciate the freedom of no longer being bound by the many constraints to be respected in reproducing versions of existing models. However, we still encounter constraints.

The first constraint, already encountered, is that all 97 cards must have plasticized surfaces in order to make the cards easier to handle and to greatly extend their life. Here, however, I must open a parenthesis: Elettra Deganello, who deals with the matter professionally, pointed out to me that our usual plastic cards are not as "modern" as I thought. Precisely for the use of cards in the game, in the USA and other countries have been recently introduced

more suitable types of cards, often embossed and with special finishes, sometimes patented like the one used for Cartamundi's Bee or SlimLine. 6 It will take experts!

Even the dimensions cannot be just any: you will have to choose average, or better yet below, to more easily hold the twenty-one cards in your hand that appear at every start of the game. Possibly, within limits to be evaluated, it will be possible to increase the height and reduce the width compared to standard formats. Once the right dimensions of the paper have been found, some alternatives must also be found in the creation of the figures. I try to look at them group by group.

The numeral cards. The main problem with the 40 numeral cards is the dimensions to adopt for the suit symbols. After the introduction of modern cards with spades, clubs, diamonds and hearts we are used to seeing an increasing number of suit symbols, each with the same design and size. The convenient system of reproducing them with perforated molds, always using the same module to be repeated several times, has undoubted advantages. Even for the system - still common in minchiate but forgotten in many regions - of swords, batons, coins [ori, literally “golds” - trans.] and cups, the same method of repeating a suit symbol of the same size can be used. However, this does not appear to be at all convenient when you have to hold many cards in your hand: in practice this would make it mandatory to introduce numbers in the margin as indices, visible even with cards largely overlapping each other.

Thinking of keeping the numeral cards without the index of the number (also to leave the different numerical series of triumphs unique), it would be necessary to operate as in Neapolitan cards, i.e. decreasing the size of the symbols as their number increases, so that you can distinguish cards of the same suit quite easily even without seeing them in full.

The picture cards. Also in this case, minchiate has some significant peculiarities. Meanwhile, the pages of cups and coins are usually females. The matter, even if only figuratively considered, is not simple. The male pages [fante] are usually understood as military men, but the female pages are understood more as maids, which might also suggest the male pages as a kind of butler. Conversely, thinking of female soldiers nowadays would not be strange, although certainly foreign to the minchiate tradition. Even more unusual are the figures of the knights [cavalli, also = horses], which at most only have parts of a horse: they would be centaurs for swords and sticks, while for cups and coins [ori] figures with human busts above the lower part of a beast or dragon; in both cases finding a correspondent among today's people and animals would not be immediate.

Thinking in terms of the order of trick-taking power [presa], the four court cards of each suit could be denoted by the numbers 11 to 14, regardless of how you draw the court card. At most, the same figure might not even be reproduced, leaving the field to just the number, perhaps with a title block with the name of the figure. However, the peculiar role of the Kings remains in minchiate (and only in this game, I believe): the four Kings are in fact the only counting cards among all sixteen courts, and indeed among all the 56 numeral and court cards. If the counting cards of the triumphs worth five points were marked in some special way, the Kings of the four suits could or should also be marked in the same way.

If it were decided that the numbers added as indexes are useful for marking the card, we encounter the problem of having to distinguish these numbers from those of the triumphs. You could think of more possible alternatives to overcome the inconvenience. The most "traditional" would be to continue using Roman numerals for the triumphs, and thus the distinction with the Arabic numerals of the suits would be automatic. At most, the triumphs could be marked with Roman numerals only up to X or XIV, and then with Arabic numerals, no longer being confused with those of the suits.

The numbers on the triumphs. A first drawback for an updated deck is the Roman numerals traditionally used on triumphs. Among other things, even those who know them from school remain confused when faced with numbers like XVIIII and similar "errors" compared to the classic format. What a disadvantage there would be in passing

6 ... ing-cards/

from Roman numerals to Arabic numerals? None, if you do not enter the numbers for the low cards [cartiglie]. However, if the low cards have Arabic numerals as indexes in the margin, the triumphs would not be easy to distinguish if drawn similarly; therefore, Arabic numerals could be used on the triumphs, even with very large characters, but without inserting the numbers in the margin. Or other systems might be found to better distinguish them from those of the suits. However, it will not be by chance that the triumphs in the tarot cards most recently used among the players of France and the German-speaking countries usually have large indexes - and as Arabic numerals! - inserted at the top, mostly on both the right and left.

In minchiate, an important warning for beginners would be to clearly distinguish the triumphs with an associated score from the valueless ones. This is an unusual feature for tarot games and creates some problems. A different color or font or other identifying mark should be used for counting and non-counting triumphs. As if that weren't enough, counting cards don't "count" the same way. There are three degrees of associated score: 3 points for 2, 3, 4, 5; 5 points (like the four Kings) for 1, 10, 13, 20, 28, 30-35; 10 points for the Airie: 36, 37, 38, 38 and 40. So the associated distinguishing marks or colors should necessarily increase.

Finally, there is the problem of indicating, if possible, which triumphs can constitute the versicole, the typical series of cards that give high scores also because they are counted at the beginning, during the game and at the end of the game. This problem has been solved in a definitive way by John McLeod with his diagram that in one fell swoop indicates both the score value and the formation of versicole, as shown in the following Figure.
From: M. Dummett, J. McLeod A History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack. Lewiston 2004, p. 335.

It is not surprising if this diagram appears in every reference to the rules of the game today.

There is even a new deck of minchiate, by Amparo Aguirre, which has an extra card with this diagram to keep an eye on during the game; 7 in another version, the same deck is packaged in a box together with an instruction booklet and, more unique than rare, with a booklet of forms for recording the games (see Figure). It doesn't appear that this deck has solved many of the problems encountered when designing for players, but it at least takes their needs into account to some extent. One can hope for a continuation in the "right" direction, considering in particular the fact that Amparo Aguirre herself is preparing the release of a new minchiate pack.

The depictions of the triumphs. For the triumphs, a serious problem is how to represent the corresponding subjects. For an artist, this is precisely what becomes the main problem. In the case of a new deck of minchiate designed for divination, I had advocated as a working method to first identify, among the countless tarot decks invented for the purpose, a deck considered preferable and then design cards in the same style for the additional triumphs present only in minchiate. However, in the case of a deck for the game, one could perhaps advantageously follow the reverse procedure: for example, start with a recent artistic representation of the twelve zodiac signs (there would also be a wide choice 8) and use it for the new deck of minchiate, then trying to plan the remaining triumphs in the same style. It is understood, however, that the seven Virtues or the Papi, for example, will not be easy to draw in a "very recent" form. More possibilities would be found for the four elements: we could try means of transport: a spacecraft in a space plasma, a truck on the ground, a ferry on the sea, a plane in the air; or with other objects in the environment: fire truck, bulldozer, submarine, hot air balloon; other ideas would not be lacking.
Amparo Aguirre. Booklet for recording the score in a game of minchiate.

My completely personal opinion, to overcome the inevitable difficulties of representing in a current way the mostly chimerical depictions of concepts and personalities from several centuries ago, is to completely eliminate the problem, removing it completely, or almost completely, from the artist's task. If someone like me is not an artist, nor a craftsman in the sector, it becomes possible to replace each figure of the triumphs with a beautiful title block with the corresponding name written on it. A word instead of a picture, that is, in as large a font as possible, easily readable. If desired, with more or less bright colors to leave some space for the pictorial creativity that has been so severely damaged.

At the limit, again for someone who does not require traditional artistic contributions to the design - which will presumably immediately turn away all potentially interested artists from the idea - one could eliminate even the title block, the word, and the meaning of the card. The extreme limit would be to use its large central number as the only indicator of the value of the card and, with the signs or colors or other things that were introduced for the distinction of the score - everything
8 ... C3&first=1

needed to play would be present. I fear that this last solution is the most suitable for absolute beginners or for. . . the 22nd century; but you never know.

7. Conclusion
The number of new tarot decks that are offered every year is high, and minchiate is a form of tarot with the "advantage" of having nineteen more cards. Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases the destination of these decks is cartomancy, but it must never be forgotten that they have been used for centuries to play games commonly considered to be of a high strategic level. I have discussed various possibilities for designing a new deck of minchiate, especially in the event that players once again find themselves willing enough to commit themselves to reviving this ancient Florentine game, forgotten for a century and a half. I have analyzed several particular aspects, and this may be useful to anyone who intends to design a new deck of minchiate; the synthesis, however, indispensable to reach the final design of an entire new deck, remains open to his or her initiative and imagination.

Florence, 02.12.2023

Reviewing this translation, Franco spotted a few errors, now corrected. I had not changed Google Translate's "trumps" to "triumphs" in a few instances, and without thinking it through, I changed the second occurrence of "figure" (Google's "figures") on the top of p. 8 to "court cards", which made no sense, since he was talking about the triumphs. Following his suggestion, I substituted "corresponding subjects." I also changed the immediately previous occurrence of "figure" to "depictions," which is better in English. There may be other errors, as yet eluding detection.

Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

I have a few reflections on the essay just posted. I want to start at the end and work backwards. Franco wrote:
At the limit, again for someone who does not require traditional artistic contributions to the design - which will presumably immediately turn away all potentially interested artists from the idea - one could eliminate even the title block, the word, and meaning of the card. The extreme limit would be to use its large central number as the only indicator of the value of the card and, with the signs or colors or other things that were introduced for the distinction of the score - everything needed to play would be present. I fear that this last solution is the most suitable for absolute beginners or for. . . the 22nd century; but you never know.
In the entire history of tarot games, this solution has never been adopted, even when the scenes below the numbers have nothing to do with those of 15th and 16th century Italy. People, especially beginners, like having pictures on the special cards. The precedent is in the court cards: they are pictures of people, or at least half-people, in the case of the minchiate knights. That makes them special. It is the same for the cards superior to the courts, even less stereotypical in the sense of a pattern that repeats in different ways (i.e. kings, queens, etc.).

If there are going to be pictures, it seems to me, they should be such as to help the beginner in playing the game. It is said that the sequence of increasing light helps people to recognize the order of the three celestials in the tarot deck. That would certainly seem to be true in the case of the minchiate celestials, where it is especially necessary because there are no numbers on them, at least until someone follows Franco's suggestion and puts only their numbers and other aids there.

What would help the beginner, it seems to me, would be if the zodiac pictures were in their customary order: starting with Aries and ending with Pisces. As it is, you have to deliberately ignore what is shown on the card and focus on the number alone in order to know when you have a verzicola involving the zodiac cards, because you probably already know the order of the signs of the zodiac. The same is true of the elements and the theological virtues. The former should go earth, water, air, and fire. The latter should go Faith, Hope, Charity, as in St. Paul's famous enumeration of them. And Prudence would go first, as the last of the cardinal virtues, which are lower than the theologicals.

Then there is the question of "the signs or colors or other things that were introduced for the distinction of the score". I would think that the most straightforward way of helping beginners know what is important for racking up a good score would be to put the ordinal number of the card on the upper left, in Arabic numerals, and the point value on the upper right, surrounded by a geometrical figure in the case of the cards that figure into irregular verzicole. Fortunately, only one such figure is needed, because no card figures in more than one irregular verzicola. So triangles for the cards of the tri, circles for the versicola of the Fool (card 0), and squares for the Kings. For number cards, the number is put on both sides, halfway down the card, as in the case of the Tarot de Marseille. The court cards need no extra identification, but if desired I would think they would be treated like the triumphs, but with a letter or two - K, Q, Kn, P - on the upper left. I think "Page" is preferable for the lowest courts for two reasons: first, that word in English has the military connotation corresponding to the pictures of the males, as well as the "servant" connotation applicable to the females; second, "female jack" is needlessly jarring.

There is also the question of whether to add the titles of the cards at the bottom. Why not? If images help, so will titles - for authenticity, in two languages, that of the target audience and the originals, in smaller print. The cards can be made longer to fit them. The only problem is the "papi." What does "Papa" mean in English? I would think "Big Authority", as opposed to the Papino, who is "Little Authority." "Papa" doesn't mean "Pope" here.

There is also the question of whether to change other little details on the cards, so that players will be less distracted trying to figure out how they relate to the titles. I think that the 1852 version is the best for that purpose. The depictions of the signs of the zodiac are much as they are today. Having titles on the cards would remove all doubt.

One distracting problem is two of the theological virtues and prudence. Below are the Etruria cards (the Fiorentino is similar), below which I append a recent writer's observations on them, at ... my-review/:

What a confusion. Well, that is what the accompanying booklet can address. Or are there versions with details that are easier to interpret? I seem to remember one with a scroll instead of a slab. Or it possible to modify them slightly in the same style? In this case, I think the "Tarot of Mantegna's" depictions of Prudence, Faith, and Charity offer suggestions (below: Charity, Hope, Faith, Prudence).

The animals on the ground are good additions, too. In the Cary-Yale, which I think is a proto-Minchiate, Faith is done in the same way as in the "Mantegna," and Charity has the flame in one hand and a suckling infant in the other. That is another solution, closer to the historical minchiate. Prudence could have the two faces of the "Mantegna" as a replacement for the easily misunderstood looking-glass (for looking behind one, in this case). The minchiate's serpent is sufficiently menacing to be seen as a symbol of the need for caution (as well as wisdom). Perhaps there is a way to use AI to put a feature from one card into another card in the latter card's style.

Also, some of the elements are needlessly ambiguous: water on the earth card is confusing, and mounds of earth on the air card. Unless there are versions that are clearer, titles on the bottom would fix that.
This is the Etruria, but the others do the same.

On the technical side, Aguirra mentions a technique she was trying to learn, for digitally enhancing the images. She gives an example:
affa9b73a6bd3c4af9e2ee16ac219704_original-min.jpg affa9b73a6bd3c4af9e2ee16ac219704_original-min.jpg Viewed 3844 times 126.84 KiB
That seems useful.

I turn now to the deck for divination. There are several attempts online to fit the minchiate as-is to divinatory purposes. The best is in Scribd, "An In-depth look at the Fascinating Minchiate Tarot." It may be a translation from some other language, as Scribd indicates that the title is AI-enhanced. What these attempts have in common (other than the one just cited) is that they look first at what is literally portrayed on the card, then try to determine how the symbolism was seen at the time of the original cards, and then generalize the metaphor to fit the situations of contemporary people. However, some improvements are in order.

First, it is important to get the 16th-17th century symbolism right. Here is where Tarot History Forum writers could play a part, because writers on divination do read what we say, to the extent they can find it (!). Especially important is to understand the role that fables and proverbs played in the emblem tradition of those years, which we, focused on the 15th century and earlier, often neglect.

Even then, there is room for improvement in the actual make-up of the deck. Franco mentions the question of one Papa or two. Well, minchiate has five. Some cartomancers would resist using this deck because the word "papa" implies that these figures are all male. A translation such as "big authority" would help. In any case, people will want at least one to be female and make the other two secular vs. spiritual. The problem is then that if there are males of both types, there ought to be females as well, and the crowns should reflect their specialty.

So there should be one more card for the second female (or male, if one decides that Papa IV is female), and not only that, a numbered card, because he/she is part of the hierarchy. Giving him/her a number causes problems, however. Will every other higher number in the deck also change? In particular, what does that do to Death, which is 13 everywhere? One way of solving that problem would be to give her the same number as one of the other "Papi," in particular one with another papal crown; that will require a modification of an existing card and the creation of a new one. Since this is not (yet) a deck for a game, there is no problem with two cards having the same number. It can be explained as expressing the androgyny of God. The male part is the Hierophant, the Revealer of the Mysteries. The female represents the Unrevealed Mysteries; so there might be a curtain behind her, as in the Tarot de Marseille. Both need a papal crown, too. Whether these titles appear on the card is another matter: a compromise might be "secular authority" and "spiritual authority". Good models for the redrawn and added cards, besides the Tarot de Marseille's curtain, are the Rosenwald or Bolognese versions (remembering that the BnF's ordering of the latter, done after the deck reached France, is arbitrary).

Another solution would be to follow Franco's suggestion to simply insert minchiate's 20 additional subjects into a popular existing tarot deck, following the same style as the tarot deck. The most popular occultist deck is surely the Waite-Smith deck. So the The new ones would be done in the same style as Smith - or whatever adaptation of that style the artist used, to avoid copyright restrictions - and ordered either in their traditional or rationalized order. The last five triumphs could either have numbers on them or not. There will be 41 triumphs rather than 40, with all but card 1 having a new number, compared to the traditional minchiate number, but who's counting?

But this brings up another problem. For many cartomancers - anyone who follows in the footsteps of Eliphas Levi, whether Anglophile or Francophile - 12 of the 22 superior cards already have zodiacal assignments, and 3 have elements as well. (The other 7 have planets.) Not only that, but in the Golden Dawn tradition, each of the minor cards has both a planet and a zodiacal sign (as well as, since they represent the decans, a suitable image, as was true in the medieval/Renaissance tradition for decans). And occultist decks manage to sneak into the designs allusions to various zodiacal signs, whether as sun signs, rulerships, dignities, detriments, or whatever. There are from this perspective more than enough cards with zodiacal signs. Zodiacal signs by themselves, far from being a helpful addition, are then just redundant and perhaps even confusing.

There are a couple of obvious solutions. One is to make the zodiacal cards refer to moon signs and the others to sun signs and others. Already my knowledge of astrology is exceeded. And it is still rather boring to have another deck exactly the same as an existing deck except for 20 additions. The main attraction of the minchiate for divination, it seems to me (and to those now online looking at it in terms of divination), is that many of the superior cards, the "majors," are represented differently than in most 78-card decks known today. That gives new opportunities for divination. So it makes more sense to use the traditional minchiate images, with perhaps some modifications drawn from other traditional images of the same subjects.

Franco suggests that making a divinatory deck is simply a matter of assigning meanings to the various cards. But it is not that easy. These days, actually ever since Eliphas Levi, there has to be a rationale fitting the meaning to what is seen on the card.

In that context, how to deal with the number cards, if they are depicted as in traditional minchiate? There exists a strong tradition that attaches meanings to the number cards independently of astrology, from the card's suit-symbol and number. Numerology was popular during the whole time of minchiate's existence as a game, focusing specifically on the numbers from 1 to 10 (repeated as necessary).

One choice is whether to make up the progression of successive associations up ad hoc (as done by d'Odoucet, c. 1809, or Jodorowsky, 1998) or use those that historically existed, such as that in Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Macrobius's Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, Martinus Capella's Marriage of Mercury and Philology, or the Theologumena Arithmeticae (in Greek only during the time in question) - or any of the better known systems developed by cartomancers.

Once a schema is chosen, it is then a matter of numerological associations plus defining features of the four suits: traditionally, it was soldiers, farmers, church, and merchants, but there are other things: city, courts, and pleasures for cups, money and sources of money for coins, combats of all sorts for swords, and fertility and countryside (including small towns) for batons. To which one might add the four Jungian functions. Each card then has more than enough on it to generate meanings that are quite arcane - but also in line with one occult tradition.

A more complicated approach would be to take the associations suggested by the imagery on the superior cards and apply those associations to the inferior card of the corresponding number (first digit only) in the specific aspects dictated by the general symbolism of the four suits and the cards' place in the numerical order. Picard, 1909, does that, and so does Jodorowsky. In this case, numerology can be applied to the superior cards as well (as Jodorowsky does), based on their numbers.

From this perspective, there are enough differences between the Tarot de Marseille images and the minchiate images to offer intriguing possibilities. Love is not a choice between good and evil. The Star is rather clearly the Star of Bethlehem, which is not suggested by the Tarot de Marseille and Waite-Smith cards. (Thus the Bologna cartomancy sheet has "gift.") The minchiate Old Man has clear associations with Time, and the deer suggests other associations. Fire has an animal in the flames, an image from alchemy. There is also the motto "Fama Volat" in the Trumpets card, which sometimes appeared on the Chariot card as well.

A difficulty for the triumphs is that its numerological aspect is a function of its place in the order. What order of triumphs should an occultist minchiate deck follow, for those triumphs shared with the 78 card deck? Perhaps that of the Tarot de Marseille or Waite-Smith. Just as minchiate followed the Florentine order of the 78 card deck, so the new minchiate follows the most popular order today of the 78 card deck. Since there are exactly 20 new cards - a multiple of 10 - it makes no difference numerologically whether the final superior cards have tarot numbers (assuming two papal and two imperial cards) has a separate number, 17-21 or 37-41.

But it may be desired that the same deck be used either for divination or playing the game. In that case, there may be some compromise order between traditional minchiate (already modified by rationalizing its orders of virtues, elements, and zodiacal signs) and a recognized occultist order. (Or else, of course, numerology is ignored for the triumphs - but that seems strange, except for the Fool, since both they and the suit cards are numbered.) Then, if there are 41 triumphs, Love loses its status as a Papa. Or else, if it is desired that the numbered subjects keep to 40, then two of the Papi get the same number, and either one of them is removed or the Bolognese rule applies to them, by which the one played last wins the trick.

Well, that was fun.

TRANSLATION TEST .... Re: Franco Pratesi, new publications (since 2023)

Florence 1766 - Domenico Aldini under investigation

Franco Pratesi

1. Introduction
An introduction for this study requires few words. The documents examined are preserved
in the State Archives of Florence, and exactly in the same collection and in the same archival unit
views already used for a previous study: in the Inventory N/83 of the Miscellanea di Fi-
nanze A in the State Archives of Florence we read: 284 Playing Cards. Various papers concerning the
stamp - 1766-86.
On the other hand, the character in question has been encountered in several previous studies on cards
I play in Tuscany because for decades he was the contractor and then the main minister for stamp duty
on playing cards. His signature on a pre-established card in the deck was a fundamental requirement
so that those cards could be sold and used legally.
At the origin of the investigation was an anonymous letter, preserved among the documents they contain
what was written in this regard by Aldini himself and his hierarchical superior, councilor Giuseppe
Gavard. Considering the absolute importance of the character for the history of playing cards in Tuscany
in the second half of the eighteenth century, I consider it useful to transcribe a large part of these documents, too
because they provide us with detailed information on the entire administration.

2. The anonymous letter
The letter that gives rise to the practice is written front and back on a white sheet in a handwriting and with
a lexicon that is not of professional level, but not even illiterate.

In order that Your Royal Highness may become aware of more, and several disorders followed
in the General Administration; He should deign to make Aldini the Minister accountable
Playing Cards, and Stamped Paper, is primarily concerned with the Cards, by two percent, above the Cards
you, who takes for the General Administration At the prejudice of V: ​​A: R:; According to each entrance
quarter of the large lots at the end so that they pay less than their tax bill, and even in advance, before
but that they are stamped and delivered to the respective warehouse; Third keeps the registers above which, e
Founded the Card Company - Stamped Paper, which, without considering the errors that may exist, are
also full of Errors, and Scratches, and Scratchings, to make the Scripture say what it wants; Fourth f� also a
Continuous and illicit trading of Cards, such as selling, causing to be sold, and bartering defective Cards
with good ones, which he got from the Warehouse, which cannot be done without prejudice to V:A: R:, yes
because in that way, both Judge and party; Fifth, the stamped paper still seems poorly administered,
v�� Certain interests, which the same receives for Gifts, which make the Card never similar to
Champions, there's no need for the warehouseman Francesco Fond to make a fuss, let's move on like this, and that's what
V: A: R: poorly served, and the public poorly satisfied. V: A: R: I will still know that he had 282 lire above
provision to keep an assistant, who has not had several, and who paid no one, and among these a certain Cammillo
Targioni having been for the space of three years with the flattering of a job in the Service of V: ​​A: R:, which
then he finds himself without pay, and without employment. That if the A: V: R: will be well informed by the Accountants, and Mini-
of the Administration by the Papermakers, and to have the mayors review their books, which will also be found
what more.

3. The "viglietto" in Gavard
The anonymous letter reaches the Grand Duke who starts the checks with the following "viglietto" sent
from councilor Angelo Tavanti to Giuseppe Gavard, Aldini's hierarchical superior.

Dear Mr. Pr.King
By order of SAR I am sending the attached anonymous information to your for your pleasure
to take those steps which he deems appropriate to clarify whether what is represented exists, e
then report your feelings by saying.
And with perfect respect I confirm myself. Yours sincerely and obligatory servant, King Angelo Tavanti
Florence 12 June 1776

The tone of the request is rather abrupt, beyond the usual expressions of respect. It is not known
the date of the anonymous complaint, but the investigation begins from here, mid-June. The continuation is
simple: Gavard asks for a defense against the accusations directly from Aldini, who writes several pages
with passion; therefore we have the "feeling" of Gavard who exposes what has come to light, and
finally the matter will be closed with another "Viglietto" from the Grand Duke.

4. Aldini's defense
Aldini's defense is written on about ten pages in foolscap format, using as a rule
only the right half. Only on the first page are both columns used, on the left for
list the two questions in full (in different spellings) and on the right for the answers. Writing
Aldini is read with some difficulty and the content of his answers does not appear well structured -
to. Despite this, I decided to also transcribe these responses in full because they are included
if useful information for the detailed reconstruction of the control over playing cards in Tuscany at that time
period. It should be noted that the two questions posed concern only some of the negative aspects raised
light from the anonymous letter; there were six and therefore it can be assumed that the other four had already been
clarified by the investigation initiated by Gavard.

Questions You wonder under what title, and by virtue of which Mr. Aldini has exacted from the Cardmakers a
so many percent above the value, is the quantity of the Cards sold by them to the App., and subsequently
to the General Administration. With what faculty did the doctor Mr. Aldini start his own business, sale of playing cards
game Separately, and independently of the sale which He Supervises for Service, and Interest
if before the Appointment and subsequently the General Regia Administ:e.

So that Aldini can naively answer the two questions that are asked to him on paper
from the Most Respectable Mr. Gavard, it is worth introducing some news, which is below.
After Aldini was appointed App.King of the Playing Card Stamp, who then, at Chi's insinuations,
he then represented the App. King General in 1751; handed over to the App. King General; meanwhile he thought about the best king
regulation of eo of the Cards; It was determined that it was convenient to have the papers sold in all places
of the State on behalf of the
This regulation could not be carried out without Aldini purchasing the cards from the card makers, so they were
the prices were not fixed, which were agreed with the paper makers after Aldini had procured the highest possible
ease of prices.
And here Aldini challenges the Cartai, and anyone who says, if he even dreamed of it, a half syllable of
Manupolio, gratification, personal interest, and more.
Whether it was the Regulation or the cause for another reason, the sale of cards grew so much that the Cardmakers did not
they could almost make up for it, so much so that it was necessary to send in a quantity of Bologna papers.
In the meantime, Aldini was thinking of building his own Card Factory in the interest of the General App.
jackets is not repugnant, and one can be a Contractor and Papermaker, as was the case for a very long stretch of time
Molinelli; and several ideas were taken to execute the Idea.
Having learned this from the Cartai, who foresaw it could be their ruin, they made many, many practices
with Aldini to distract him from setting up the Fabbrica. They recommended each other, made promises;
and here too Aldini challenges anyone, if it can be said, who allows himself to be induced into anything, if it is done
half a word of personal interest.
Meanwhile, the Aldini factory no longer continued for various reasons, the main one being that
the, that since there were no capable workers, and it was no use having them come from outside, it was better to seduce those of the new
stri Cartai, cicicche Aldini did not want to do because it was contrary to all the rules of religion and honor.
ity, since in this case he would have been the cause of the ruin of the paper makers.
So it was that Aldini was always on top of the Papermakers, so to speak, to make them work, and forced them to
grow Workers with infinite their earnings, and advantage, which still redounded as a result in
advantage of the
It would take too much if Aldini were to repeat all the protests of gratitude that he then, and always, received
the Cartai did and did for this Benefit and in fact, how could Aldini have prevented himself from not being
to run a Card Factory, even on its own, when this not only would not have jeopardized, but rather
it would have greatly benefited the interests of the App. and she would, if he could, and wanted to carry himself out safely,
and considerable profits to Aldini, (he built it on his own, and for the Shop,) who would have sold all the
Papers from this factory, and few of them, are tips from those of paper makers.
Up to this point Aldini repeats it with Courage, and pro veritate, nothing, and then nothing with View of the Minimum
interest of Aldini.
After a long period of time, and certainly more than a year, or two, and perhaps more, because Aldini did not
has memory, dealing with things from twenty-five years ago, He who not only consumed on his own, and in
he actually gave many cards to relatives and friends, because everyone looked at him then, and always as app.king,
he finally told the Cardmakers that he would like some recognition of Cards for his own consumption.
Rossi therefore gave and agreed with his own, mere and free will this recognition, which is now
been more, now it has been less, that there was no fixed Pact, which was equivalent to approximately not two
per cent above the Carte sold in general, but at about a dozen Carte, that Aldini had com-
field on the sole currency of the Papers Without Stamp, and Aldini has always had this recognition
in Cards.
Molinelli then did not believe he had to grant as much as Rossi, and it is so true that Aldini never
demanded this as a Pact, who was satisfied, and was satisfied with what he willingly gave him, and which will be
consisting of approximately a dozen, that's a little more than papers a year; and despite this Molinelli sold
More and more Rossi cards at the, and at Aldini on his own.
What crime, what Lack, what evil did Aldini do? He certainly doesn't believe he has
than to reproach oneself. Prices had been fixed for a long time, they were fixed more strictly; that it had been possible
ble, and to get the Cardmakers to match the Cards at the agreed prices required quite a bit of effort, and a
long, very long Treaty, and Effort.
If then the cardmakers, in view of the advantages as above, reported by Aldini, wanted freely; and of lo-
own will, and Satisfaction, as demonstrated by the quiescence of about twenty-five years, to give
precisely this tenuous gratitude to Aldini, who never claimed it as a Pact, which he never had in
Having seen, before and after the Treaty on the Purchase of Papers, the prices that were agreed upon, he certainly
mind he did not believe he had failed in his duty.
And that this is true as soon as as an extrajudicial friend on the evening of August 14th he learned
Aldini, that the Most Respectable Mr. Counselor Gavard was carrying out research in this matter, which he immediately with
frankness, and tranquility come from His; and on his own motion with all the naivety confessed the Fat-
to, and declared the above and that He never believed he was doing anything improper.
In fact, if Aldini had demanded this de jure recognition, he would have also demanded it from Tognacci,
from whom he nevertheless bought the Cards in proportion, and at a lower price than the other Cardmakers in
Benefit now of the General Administration; without even a shadow of this thing having occurred to me.
Furthermore, it must be added that Aldini has not had anything for at least two years, because
having been able to realize that the card dealers after the Law of the Games, due to which their Pro-
rent, showed little satisfaction with this, paid, and paid for all the papers taken on their own, and to the
nini mo Rossi, who said to give him some papers as usual, replied no, I don't want them, and in case you
it will always be time.
Rossi then complains that Aldini took fewer cards from him than from Molinelli. If Aldini had
had his own tenuous interest in mind, he would have preferred Rossi; But the real cause of this seemed to be
due to the lack of the papers that Rossi had in his factory, because Aldini never preferred
any, when they had Papers, in view of any Thing.
Here, Most Honorable Sir, naively answered the First Article of your Questions; And coming to the Se-
It is important to point out that the Sale of Cards is not a private right, nor an annex to the Agreement, which is
can be performed by Anyone, the more Sellers there are, the greater the Advantage of the App.
General at first, and then the General Administration has never held this Sale in the City of Florence, because
it was certain that the Cardmakers and many other Sellers sold Cards at all hours, and that in the meantime it was wanted by the doc
App. King General; and then this sale in the Foranei Posts was continued by the General Administration, although with a delay
more, because it seemed and seems that it could contribute to the sale of the Papers.
Aldini therefore, who has never been a public card seller; but who served Friends, Mini-
stri, Subjects of distinction, inclusive of all a.ri; delivering the Cards at the price of Crazie thirteen
the low ones, and the Minchiate by Crazie Venti; And you have always bought these Cards from the Fabricators and paid for them
at the legal price, as it costs from the Accounts, and receipts.
Many bought the cards from Aldini, because they paid less for them, and because they were here to rest
they thought they would find them better: Which in essence perhaps wasn't true.
This sale of cards is not only non-judicial, but it is infinitely beneficial; because every time, yes
sells a deck of cards, a Paolo enters the cash register; And this must be the main object of those who admire
issues this Contract, and as a result of it the Administration and Management.
Aldini made this quiet sale from the moment he took the contract; And this is so true,
that he could never have thought that there was a shadow of evil in this, that he served friends, Mi-
nistri, App.ri, without consideration, 'caution, because he repelled nothing, 'he could repel at the slightest
interest of the House, is to the most exact delicacy of the ministry, which indeed influenced, and continues to influence, the Advantage
of the House, does not prejudice, and has never been able to prejudice anyone, not even the Cardmakers, who
Basically they have always sold their cards.
Indeed, it seems to Aldini, if Memory did not betray him, that in some place to establish the Sale there was
sent the Cards for a given time, which he had paid for in Cash.
The Sale of Cards is not an annex to the Conduct of the Contract, but is a particular Traffic,
which is done at a cost and with the sole aim of selling many cards, and which can perhaps be neglected
even profitably in the present circumstances.
That this is true in Livorno the Sale on behalf of the Apartment was omitted because it was certain that there
there were many Sellers. The sales office was then reopened at the time of the General Administration to be more certain that
Cards are sold there at all hours; but essentially for the Sale part it is called Safe Expense.
Here, with all naivety, is the due response to the two questions asked in the Charter by the Honorable Mr. Councilor Gavard
to Aldini and which is essentially the same one given to him spontaneously before having received this
sites in paper; with the greatest respect you have the honor to tell me
By Yours Most Honorable Ser. Aldini
Florence 17 August 1776
5. Response and Memory of Giuseppe Gavard
A few days after the Answers to the Questions written by Domenico Aldini, councilor Gavard is in
able to forward his letter of response to the Grand Duke, with a memorandum on the investigation he carried out.

2. Department. Stamped paper. Playing Cards
See Protocol of 23 September 1776 of the Secretary of Schmidveiller No. 14
Royal Highness
In execution of the Order in a note from the Councilor Angelo Tavanti dated 12th June
First of all, I give myself the honor with the hereby enjoined Memory to give an account to Your Royal Highness of the dili-
procedures carried out by me to clarify whether there are various accusations made in an anonymous Representation
nima to Aldini Principal Minister of the respective Playing Cards and Paper Company
I was not able to find in Do Aldini's behavior that serious crime, which the risky expressions indicate.
sions of the Accuser, it only seems to me that He has rather lacked zeal in some part, and to
that scrupulous delicacy, which is typical of a Minister, who has no exceptions, what a sin to con-
find fidelity.
Therefore, if one does not want to consider true mortification as a sufficient punishment for Aldini-
ne, which the same has proven from the accusations brought to the Royal Throne against Him, I believe that it could be
add a serious warning to be more cautious and less interested in the future, especially since
after the discovery of what passed between it and the Card Makers, it took such measures that there was no
Further inconvenience for the company is to be feared.
However, on this occasion I must not fail to explain to VAR that Aldini, due to his
bewildered health, and due to his current unhappy complexion, he is certainly no longer able to perform
an exact and assiduous service, as would be necessary, considerably harming the application to the sign
that he cannot even mark the Cards with his own signature, taking advantage of the hand of the Helper.
And prostrate beside the royal throne I resign myself
Of Your Royal Highness Most Humble Servant and subject Giuseppe Gavard
Florence 26. August 1776

Attached to the letter we find the following long Memoir, in which Gavard replies point by point
all anonymous accusations.

MEMORY. To clarify, whether there are six charges against Domenico Aldini, Minister
head of the Playing Card and Stamped Paper Companies, in an anonymous Representation
forwarded to SAR, and sent to me with the ordered Viglietto by HE Mr. Angelo Tavanti on
dated 12th June 1776, and marked with No. 1, with orders to express my opinion, the diligence has been carried out
which will be mentioned below to the extent that each head of accusation will report. It is said that the aforementioned Minister is interested in the Cardmakers of two percent above the Cards,
which he takes for the General Administration.
There are three manufacturers of playing cards in Florence, namely Zanobi Rossi, Pietro Molinelli, and the Jew.
Emanuelle Sacerdote under the name of Salvadore Tognacci.
The first two, making the best quality cards, sell a greater quantity of them to the General Administration,
that the Jew, who established it a short time ago, built the building with Tognacci, who failed; From the latter
Aldini has not received any intelligence that deserves to be noted.
When Rossi was questioned whether Aldini himself had any interest in him, he immediately replied that since
first half, in which Aldini succeeded Molinelli in the contract for the papers, he had received a two for
one hundred on the Papers without stamp, which were delivered to him, were sold, that is to say, that above all
One Hundred Dozens of Unstamped Decks of Cards, he received two Dozens: which Participation can have
king imported about five scudi a year, adding however, that from the year 1774 onwards Aldini himself
he renounced this emolument.
When Molinelli was similarly questioned on the same subject, he replied that he had always agreed
to the Aldini one per cent above the only low cards sold, that is to say, that for every one hundred dozens of
Decks of said cards, he passed to him a dozen without stamp, which was worth L. 4.16.-, and this lasted until
to the year 1774., in which Aldini desist from receiving participation, which was much lower than that
granted by Rossi, since for Molinelli it extended only to the low cards, and to one per cent.
I subsequently asked Aldini if ​​it was true that he received from Cartai Rossi and Molinelli
a so many percent above the Papers that he had purchased from them at the time of the General Contract, that during
respecting the watchful Administration; and the same man not only immediately confessed in his voice what the matter was
gone; but he still gave me the discharge, which is found in the attached sheets of No. 2 under the date of the 17th.
August 1776., where he narrates, that on the principle that he obtained for himself the Contract of the Paper Stamp, the
which he then had to hand over to the Masson General Contract, the paper makers Molinelli and Rossi granted them the sur-
divided Respective Emolument, especially with a view to ensuring that He does not erect a new Paper Factory,
which would have harmed themselves, as it could have done.
Aldini therefore continued to receive the aforementioned participation during the respective General Procurement
rals, not only because he always believed he had been prejudiced in the aforementioned transfer, considering himself
as the main tenant of this Company, but also because having more strictly established that it was
as possible the prices of the Papers, which the Papermakers sold to the Company, there was no prejudice whatsoever
to interested parties; Waves with the same maxim he continued to perceive even in the first years of the vigil
General Admin. the above-divided small participation until the year 1774., which spontaneously
The object was not in itself of great importance; but once the southern participation is out of the way, yes
could obtain from the Cardmakers some small reduction in some of the Card prices already set, compliant
I managed to persuade Rossi to reduce the price of the deck by four pennies.
of the low cards, and of money you are that of the Minchiate, and by similarly inducing Molinelli to decrease
the respective price of one and the other is four denarii; and if it appears that I have it on the Minchiate
he lost two denarii more to Rossi than to Molinelli, this derives from having always been two denarii higher
the price set initially with Rossi himself, given that it is expected that his cards are better than
those of the other Manufacturers. If we consider the quantity of papers supplied in the year 1775, the
divided respective decrease in the price of the same imports to the advantage of the Company L. 122.,
a sum much higher than the participation - Emolument, which the Cardmakers granted to Aldini.
Having therefore not only spontaneously desisted since 1774, from receiving the
southern participation, but having still naively confessed all that followed, it doesn't seem to me that He can be
accused of malice, but rather of having failed in that scrupulous delicacy, which is typical of every
honored, zealous, and disinterested Minister, who must study, and procure all the advantages of Whoever holds him
provided for his Service.
It would not then have been possible to become aware of the previously mentioned small interest that was passing
fr� the Aldini, and the Cartai, if the Cartai themselves had not revealed it to someone, complaining in certain
way of this increase, especially after the increase in the price of the materials used to manufacture the
Cards. For greater security, and against the method consistently held from January 1750 until
present, has decided to no longer leave the task of providing the Papers alone to Aldini, but that He
concerts with me every time the Purchase with the intervention of the Accountant and the Warehouse Manager, according to the bi-
dream of the Administration.
2.o It is said that Aldini places large Entry Lots at the end of each Quartale, so that the Cardmakers pay
less than their stamp, and even in advance before the papers are stamped, and delivered to the respective
vo Warehouse.
This accusation is without foundation; When the Cardmakers want to have the Cards stamped, the Minister does one
Policy of the quantity and quality of the same: he records it in his Entry and Exit book: Debit the Charges
tax of importing the Stamp, according to the number and quality of the Papers to be stamped: Delivery by Policy
to the Warehouseman assigned to attend the Stamp Duty in the Tax Rooms: The Papers are counted: The same Po-
The list remains with the Tax Ministers, who at the end of the year carry out the counting, and also take Receipts.
register. I have established that the same Policy passes into the hands of the Accountant before it is brought to the Tax Office
from the Warehouseman. At the end of each quarter, a calculation is made of how much the Cardmakers owe for the stamp duty, e
of the importation of the Papers sold by them to the Administration, the appropriate
Mandates for payment to the Cassa, which is not administered by Aldini.
3.zo It is said that he holds the Scripture of the Carta stampata and the Playing Cards very badly:
let it be full of errors, scribbles, and scratchings to make them say what it wants.
As for the Papers, the inexistence of this accusation is sufficiently evident from the tenor of the previous
article, and for the supposed inconvenience to occur, it would be necessary for the Minister and the Storekeeper
they were in perfect agreement, which is not likely.
The slander then becomes greater compared to the writing of the Carta stampata, as will be observed later.
at Article 6.o.
4.o It is said that he carries out a continuous and illicit trade in Cards, with selling, having people sold, and bartering
king of defective cards with good ones, which he gets from the Administration Warehouse.
As regards the exchange of defective Cards, the Warehouse Manager Fond positively declared to me that
Aldini never sought this, so the accusation in this part is false.
As for the particular sale of the Papers, which the former Aldini carried out on his behalf, having it
When questioned about this, he received his naive confession in the aforementioned marked sheets of No. 2., where he adduces,
that the sale of the Cards is not private; stamps that are: That the greater the sale of
same, the greater the Product of the Stamp becomes, so that the Privative Decree falls: Which from this results at the
Company an advantage and not a detriment, since the company loses on the sale, and earns only
mind to the extent of the greater revenue from the Stamp Duty, to which many Card Dealers contribute.
All these reasons are admissible as far as the interests of the Company are concerned;
but I only find that such particular Traffic is contrary to delicacy and is not suitable for a person
Minister provided by the Company itself, who always gives suspicion to those who are not good in-
format of the internal system of this small Administration; Therefore it was important to Aldini to be of
its decorum to renounce the south. or particular sale, which is then reduced to a tenuous object, its uni-
with the profit consisting in obtaining from the Cardmakers some small relief on the price of the Cards, which
buys from them in small quantities, but the stamp duty paid by the paper makers always remains intact.
5.o It should be noted that Aldini received from SAR L 282. a year more than his usual provision, so as to
gasse an Aid, and who kept a certain Cammillo Targioni for three years without paying him but by flattering him
only to get them a job, which Targioni did not even obtain.
With a benign Rescript dated 11 June 1770, Aldini was granted an increase in the Provision of
L.282. per year, so that he could hold an assistant of his choice, and at his own expense. He really took advantage of the preno-
undermined Targioni, nor did the General Administration care to know what conditions had been agreed between
of them. Targioni, however, resorted to HRH complaining about Aldini, and in a long information of mine dated
16. Feb. 1773. I explained all the circumstances of the affair. Aldini subsequently made use of another
against the choice of which I complained, since it was a little boy, whose accuracy there was no guarantee of
promise; But HRH, having by Rescript dated 28 October 1775, made Aldini cease the reclamation
ment of the aforementioned L 282; with having assigned them another assistant paid by the Administration;
The accusation made against Aldini in this Article does not seem to me to deserve further attention, it is discussed
6.o Finally, it is said that Aldini mismanaged the Carta stampata, receiving certain gifts, for which
He admits the inferior Card to the Champions, not needing the Warehouse Manager Fond to make a fuss, and complains about it.
The Minister absolutely cannot do harm to this match, except to the extent that he is capable of doing so
to get along with the Warehouse Manager, and with the Sorters to receive poor paper, and inferior to the Cam-
pions: The prices of the Paper were fixed after a kind of enchantment with the most rigorous diligence: When
the Card arrives from Colle to Florence and is immediately handed over to the Warehouseman; Scripture is
well maintained by the Principal Minister, the Storekeeper, and the Accountant respectively; Only once
it seemed to Storekeeper Fond that a batch of paper was not entirely perfect; but having done it
the Expertise further, and several expert cardmakers in my presence, it was truly recognized that the same did not
it was to be rejected. The greatest justification to be given for this matter is that at the time of the present
The Stamp Paper Manager no longer heard the appeals, which previously were frequent over the
quality of da Carta, and that the exceptions given a few times by some were attributable to poor quality
of the Ink, and to the way of writing, rather than to an essential imperfection that there was in the
Stamped paper.
26. Aug. 1776 Giuseppe Gavard

6. Resolution ticket
The latest document on the issue is a short "slip" without a header, recipient or addressee.
sender, written quickly without taking care of the handwriting, but clearly of an official nature.

The SAR wants the matter of the accusations brought against Domenico Aldini Minister of the Republic to be completed
Playing cards and stamped paper, with a serious warning.
See SAR Resolution of 12 September 1776 N� 26. - VPS 23. September 1776 N� 14.

And so "the deal remains completed". The serious accusations have been denied. The Grand Duke accepts the proposal
is from councilor Gavard, but accepts it in the heavier version. According to the councilor, superior
hierarchical member of Aldini, the mortification suffered by the minister for the crimes would also have been sufficient
accusations and the subsequent investigation. The Grand Duke, or someone on his behalf, judges instead of a serious warning
tion is necessary.
The fact is that the discovery, only following anonymous accusations, of conduct that was anything but
Aldini's specimen ends up directly hitting Gavard himself, who only now realizes
takes the situation into account and takes initiatives aimed at making the relationship between the minister and the cardinal more regular.
tai. If things had been working badly for a quarter of a century, a severe penalty for Aldini would have justified
certainly entailed a sentence, however reduced, also for Gavard. It is for this reason that in
In such cases it is customary to entrust the investigation to a third party judge.

7. Conclusions
From the investigation into Domenico Aldini we obtain quite precise indications, both explicit and
implicit, on the control of the production of playing cards in Florence in the second half of September
th century and in particular on the figure of Domenico Aldini, first contractor and then main minister
of the sector.
The defense of the minister by his superior (which appears to be a defense, rather than
an objective investigation into the various accusations) make people read between the lines that the behavior
dell'Aldini went well beyond his official duties. Aldini received a large salary
far higher than that of all its employees. In the same 1776 the distribution of provisions
annual payments from the office were distributed as follows, in lire: Aldini 1700, Manetti his assistant 400, Fond magaz-
Ziniere 200, Money forwarder 60, Brunelleschi stamper 53.6.8.
Evidently Aldini intended to earn even more. The situation was made embarrassing
by the fact that while the "principal minister" was more or less illegally topping up his lavish salary
slope his employees, who realized this, forwarded supplications to the Grand Duke to obtain
small bonuses or salary increases by regularly pointing out the miserable condition in which
their family was there.
One of his tasks, perhaps the main one, was to write his signature on a playing card
of all the decks of cards put on the market. For this, he even had an assistant sign
"Domenico Aldini" in his place; the helper was previously paid indirectly (with an increase of
Aldini's salary which in theory, but not in practice, should have been fully transferred
to the help) and then directly from the administration. Furthermore, it appears that Aldini had also found
of systems to increase his already abundant salary, thanks to under-the-table agreements with the cartels
so he could receive from them, and then sell, decks of cards for free or at a reduced price.
Perhaps the anonymous accusations were more striking than they should have been, but certainly almost all the justifications
of Aldini and Gavard appear rather weak to us.

Florence, 21.11.2023
https://archiviodistatofirenze.cultura. ... -finanze-a
F. Pratesi Playing-Card Production in Florence. Tricase 2018; F. Pratesi, Card games in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Ariccia 2015

F. Pratesi Playing-Card Production in Florence. Tricase 2018, on p. 23;


ignore .... in work .... TEST SARDEGNA .... Franco Pratesi translation

Carte e tarocchi alla fine del Settecento in Sardegna

Franco Pratesi

1. Continuazione dello studio precedente
Nel mio precedente studio sulle carte da gioco ritrovate nella Biblioteca Universitaria di Sassari, (1 Footnote)
alcune notizie e descrizioni erano rimaste incompiute. Soprattutto, c’era la speranza di ritrovare
altre carte da gioco. In effetti, elenco a parte tutto quanto il bibliotecario Deiana e i suoi colleghi sono
riusciti a rintracciare a seguito delle mie reiterate richieste. I manoscritti coinvolti sono più di quanti
ne avevo ritrovati nei cataloghi, ma il numero complessivo delle carte da gioco è minore di quanto
speravo, anche per il mancato ritrovamento delle ventidue carte che erano segnalate come associate
al Ms. 68.##
Ho invece rinunciato a portare a termine il programma di presentare qualche figura perché, a seguito delle nuove disposizioni del ministero, ho già speso abbastanza per ricevere le nuove scansioni.
Non era facile, ma la burocrazia statale va peggiorando ancora e, tenendo anche conto del Decreto
ministeriale dell’11 aprile 2023, dalla biblioteca mi hanno scritto quanto segue. “Le riproduzioni verranno inviate a scopo di studio e non potranno essere in nessun modo pubblicate, né online né in
forma cartaceo su alcun mezzo, se non successivamente e dopo aver ottenuto l’autorizzazione dal
Ministero della Cultura.” Figuriamoci. Piuttosto, vorrei approfittare per correggere un errore nella
precedente descrizione delle carte del manoscritto 72/II: invece di una Regina, la carta di cui non si
vede il seme è in realtà un secondo Re di cuori.##
2. Elenco delle carte ritrovate nella nuova ricerca ##
10. E. 15 – 3 di fiori. Frammento verticale centrale. Sul dorso, bianco, Dr. Giuseppe Della Chiesa.
Altro piccolo frammento con scrittura mutila non decifrabile.##
10. C. 5 (Footnote 2) – Fante, con seme cancellato. Angolo sinistro-alto tagliato. Sovrascritta in grande e chiara
grafia: 5 Di Denari. Dorso con ca. 20x11 righe ripetute di un motivo geometrico come un tridente
senza manico. Piccolo frammento bianco con scritto Velas a quatro à libra e con numeri.##
III. 10. F. 15 – 10 di cuori. I dieci segni dei cuori sono più regolari del solito; solo i bordi non sono
netti come potrebbero essere usando bene gli stampini. Manca la scansione del dorso.##
I. 5. B.17I
– 4 e 3 di quadri. Più pagine di libro religioso in latino, tipo breviario. Un foglietto scritto
in spagnolo.##
I. 5. B. 16II
– 6 di quadri, con buon disegno, colori in parte alterati. Senza dorso. ##
10. G. 30 – 9 di fiori, disegno non perfetto ma meglio del solito. Gambi sottili. Senza dorso.##
III. 19. C. 12 – 9 di fiori; il gambo del fiore è spesso quasi quanto i petali. Dorso bianco con scritto
Caratter Giraldy.
55. A. 52
– 3 di fiori (più simile al secondo 9). Dorso bianco con stampato al centro “Il Vescovo di
Bisarcio” inserito in una cornice rettangolare.##
II. 1. G. 5IV
– Regina di quadri. Integra, ben conservata, colori compresi. Dorso bianco con scritto a
mano: Dr. Giorgio Pilo Boÿl.##
II. 1. F. 1I
– 8 di quadri; la posizione dei quadri non è perfettamente simmetrica e i bordi non sono
netti. Nel dorso bianco si legge: Il P. Solinas Carmelitano è venuto per congedarsi.##
I. 18. B. 131
– 8 di quadri, solo metà carta in verticale, disegno migliore. Due o tre parole, non decifrate, in alto sul dorso bianco.##

10. C. 59
– 3 di fiori, gambo sottile, sovrascritte di numeri e “unger”. Il dorso bianco è stato interamente stampato con, entro due cornici “GIAMMARIA COLLI CARBONI prega V.S. si degni onorare il
suo atto pubblico di Licenza in Medicina il dì 14. Luglio a ore 7. di mat. 1790.”##

Page 3 ##
II. 21. F. 25 – 10 di quadri. I bordi dei dieci quadri sono stati rimarcati con tratto scuro e aggiunto al
centro un undicesimo segno di quadri vuoto e meno regolare. Nel dorso bianco si legge “Il del In Congedo” e qualche numero.##
I. 22. F. 8I
– 2 di cuori e Regina di picche. Ben conservate. Rispettivamente sui dorsi bianchi si legge:
Su tre linee tracciate con la riga come altre ai bordi come cornice: “Dettori d.e S.le Pie prega VS. ## / dell’intervento alla sua prolus. pub. / in il di 6. 9bre”. L’altro su tre righi abbastanza ben allineati “Francesco Paý prega V.S. / dell’intervento alla sua pub. prelus. / in Js.
Canoni il giorno 5 9bre”.
9. C. 51
– 8 di cuori più frammento. Nel dorso bianco si legge “Cavagre Guibert” e sopra scarabocchiato forse “Cavalleglieri”.
I. 14. A. 4 – Re di un seme non riconoscibile. Tutta la carta, pur intera, è molto usurata. Il dorso, pure
conservato male è decorato con sei file parallele (ma non esattamente) al lato lungo di circa 5 fiori
con quattro petali a croce, senza colori.
3. Commenti e ipotesi
Non ripeto qui quanto già scritto nello studio citato su questi manoscritti, sui loro restauri, sul loro
autore. Questa volta non si trovano indizi espliciti sulla produzione di queste carte da gioco: nessun
nome di città, o di fabbrica. Sia per il loro aspetto, sia per alcune date che si leggono nelle scritte
aggiunte, si deve concludere che in generale queste carte furono prodotte prima dei tarocchi Draghi
già incontrati: da circa il 1805 si salta qui almeno al decennio precedente, fino all’anno 1790 indicato
espressamente in un caso (il che però lascia ipotizzare qualche anno prima ancora).
Nello studio precedente mi ero fermato a questo punto. “Sulla specifica situazione nel convento
dei frati minori di Santa Maria di Betlem di Sassari, senza approfondirne lo studio, ora posso solo
immaginare qualcosa di plausibile.” Allora una questione aperta era cosa poteva avere indotto i frati
minori a restaurare molti, o forse tutti, i numerosi manoscritti di Antonio Sisco in un periodo molto
limitato in corrispondenza alle date di quelle carte da gioco. Ora il periodo in questione si allarga e
non c’è più un singolo evento da ricercare; diventa quindi prevalente l’altra questione, quella della
provenienza delle carte da gioco.
In ogni modo ho cercato di documentarmi meglio sull’ambiente e in particolare ho consultato due
libri fondamentali sui frati minori in Sardegna e sullo stesso Convento di Santa Maria di Betlem (v.
Figura). Le notizie raccolte in questi due libri sono innumerevoli e fra l’altro ne troviamo anche
sull’autore dei manoscritti, Antonio Sisco, sulla sua vita e sulla sua attività. Tuttavia, non ho trovato
la risposta alle mie due perplessità: cosa successe per far restaurare i manoscritti; da dove provenivano
le carte da gioco. In seguito ho persino scritto alla Biblioteca del medesimo convento chiedendo informazioni al riguardo; anche da lì non ho avuto risposte, almeno finora. Lasciamo allora perdere
l’occasione del restauro e limitiamoci all’uso, anzi agli usi, delle carte da gioco.
Le carte elencate in questo studio mi hanno obbligato a fare qualche passo avanti rispetto alle
precedenti ipotesi. L’incertezza che avevo incontrato per la provenienza delle carte dalla bottega di
un artigiano o dal convento, ora la devo sciogliere nel senso che quanto si legge sulle carte non può
provenire dalla bottega di nessun artigiano estraneo al convento, e quindi si deve solo capire meglio
l’uso di queste carte all’interno del convento stesso. L’uso visibile è prevalentemente come biglietti
da visita o, comunque, biglietti bianchi su cui scrivere qualsiasi informazione utile. Questa non è una
cosa strana e di esempi del genere ne sono noti moltissimi. Naturalmente, però, nessuno acquista un
mazzo di carte per usarle come biglietti da visita! Quella è la logica fine di un mazzo già lungamente
usato, con carte usurate e riconoscibili, e magari ormai privo di alcune carte e inutilizzabile per il
gioco. Insomma, la cosa si spiega, specialmente se si considera che le carte di diversi mazzi dell’epoca
avevano proprio il dorso bianco. Un problema rimane però: il fatto che i soggetti dell’azione sono i
frati minori, e il loro ambiente sassarese.
Un’ipotesi che difficilmente potrebbe trovare oggi una conferma esplicita dall’ambiente è che in
qualche periodo di tempo e in qualche modo quei religiosi fossero diventati dei fanatici giocatori di
carte. Di per sé la cosa non sarebbe sorprendente; fra i giocatori di carte i religiosi sono rammentati
più volte, nelle cronache e nella narrativa, anche di quel periodo storico. Un esempio sintomatico lo
trovai nelle disposizioni delle Stanze del Cocomero, a Firenze, nel 1796, e quindi praticamente in un
tempo molto vicino a quello implicato qui: tanto affollate di religiosi erano diventate le sale da gioco
che fu deciso di limitarne l’accesso. “All’oggetto di rimuovere l’intollerabile abuso ed indecente maniera che si è introdotta, quale risulta dal vedere quasi tutte le sere ripiena la Conversazione Accademica stabilita nelle Stanze annesse al Regio teatro del Cocomero di Sacerdoti ammessi alla medesima
sempre vestiti da campagna di colore, e con abiti alle volte assai laceri…”
Quelli di Sassari però non erano religiosi “normali”, quelli erano frati minori. Si dà il caso che
l’esempio più tipico e famoso del loro approccio con le carte da gioco fu già quello di San Bernardino
da Siena: anche lui usava le carte da gioco e insegnò al mondo che l’uso più conveniente, per quanto
insolito, era quello di farne una ricca raccolta e poi bruciarle in un bel falò nella piazza principale
della città. Questo era il tipico uso delle carte da gioco da parte dei frati minori! Bernardino si rivolterebbe nella tomba se scoprisse che alcuni suoi confratelli usavano le carte per giocare.
Allora forse l’ipotesi che rimane come la più adatta è quella di supporre che i frati si procurassero
mazzi di carte usati, non più utilizzabili per giocare, e trasformati in oggetti di cancelleria, da usare
come biglietti per annunci e notizie varie. Fra questi usi appare significativo quello di usare i dorsi
bianchi delle carte come biglietti per la stampa; un biglietto con annuncio a stampa non si produce in
copia unica, e così si capisce ancora meglio come per un uso del genere anche la richiesta di quello
specifico materiale potesse essere considerevole.
4. La Freddura Poetica sui Tarocchi
Intendo concludere questo studio introducendo un nuovo argomento, che porta un ulteriore contributo sulla diffusione dei tarocchi in Sardegna, ancora poco studiata. Il nuovo documento presentato
qui, Il Folle dei Tarocchi, è un componimento poetico, pure conservato nella Biblioteca Universitaria
di Sassari. Il fondo in cui si trova è il Dono Devilla, formato dalla collezione raccolta da Giuseppe
Devilla (1869-1955) medico primario presso l’Ospedale civile di Sassari.
Il manoscritto in questione ‒ D.D. ms. 6 ‒ è un fascicolo di dodici carte cucite di cui leggiamo nel
catalogo la seguente descrizione interna: “cc. 1r-7r: Manifesto Giustificativo Della Emozione Popolare accaduta in Cagliari Il giorno 28 aprile 1794; c. 7v: “Copia di atto di Vittorio Amedeo”; cc. 8r9v: copia delle “Domande degli Stamenti Ecclesiastico, Militare e Reale Del Regno di Sardegna”; c.
10r: componimento poetico “Il Folle dei Tarocchi”; c. 12r: “Circolare della Reale Udienza di Cagliari
alli Ministri di Giustizia del Regno di Sardegna”; sono allegati un bifoglio e un foglio con appunti
relativi anch’essi ai moti di Cagliari.”
I documenti conservati insieme indicherebbero quindi anche per il componimento poetico una data
attorno al 1794 e Cagliari piuttosto che Sassari come provenienza. Per la situazione politica assai
contrastata di quegli anni, mi ero immaginato che un componimento poetico sul Folle dei tarocchi
sarebbe stato basato su una rigida critica a qualche governante o comandante militare, eventualmente
in forma sarcastica. Invece ci si legge tutt’al più un cenno piuttosto incerto alla “pazzia” della folla
in sommossa. Forse il lettore dell’epoca poteva intravederci uno o più personaggi, e relativi fatti sottintesi, che oggi risultano difficili da ricavare da questi versi per chiunque non sia uno studioso specializzato proprio su quegli avvenimenti locali. Insomma, può darsi che la riflessione del poeta fosse
stata innescata dalla follia degli avvenimenti, o anche di qualche personaggio coinvolto, ma in tal
caso la sua reazione non risulta per noi sufficientemente esplicita.
A noi interessa quindi a maggior ragione il Folle dei Tarocchi di per sé, come carta dei tarocchi,
qualsiasi siano gli eventuali riferimenti sottostanti. Si deve riconoscere allora che sul gioco dei tarocchi non si ricavano dalla poesia informazioni importanti. Certamente vi si trovano accenni al modo
di giocare, e ovviamente al ruolo del Matto nel gioco; si incontrano dettagli sul valore delle carte
(come, per esempio, i cinque punti per il Matto contro l’unico punto per le Virtù); tuttavia sono notizie
già note da numerose altre fonti. Ciò che alla fine rimane di interesse è l’associazione fra i tarocchi e
la Sardegna: sicuramente, questa medesima poesia non avrebbe avuto senso se il gioco dei tarocchi
in Sardegna fosse stato poco o punto noto. Quello dei tarocchi in Sardegna è un argomento che ha
ricevuto pochissimi studi e non è chiaro se gli studi sono pochi perché pochi sono i documenti noti
dell’epoca, o viceversa se i documenti noti sono pochi solo perché ancora l’argomento non ha ricevuto
abbastanza attenzione dagli studiosi.
Firenze, 17.09.2023