Tarocchi Vergnano: An Historic Tarot from Piedmont
Giordano Berti, creator of a facsimile 15th-century Sola Busca deck, has made another treasure available to collectors — a very beautiful 19th-century Piedmont-style deck.
The Piedmont region of Italy has a vigorous, centuries-long tradition of tarot deck production. Its unique spin on the Tarot de Marseille is documented back to the late 18th century. In 1832, card maker Stefano Vergnano of Turin was honored by the Chamber of Commerce for the quality of his playing cards. Berti’s deck re-creates a Vergnano tarot deck printed at that time.
The deck is housed in a sturdy, corrugated cardboard box that opens like a book and is covered with paper marbled in olive green and gold, with metallic gold flecks. A small version of the Fool card sits on the cover. The inside cover is lined with gold paper, and a miniature Ace of Coins seals a green ribbon in place. This is one of the few decks in my collection where I can say I get as much pleasure from the container as I do from the deck itself.
The cards are 2.75 by 4.5 inches (6.8 by 11.5 cm) printed on smooth, creamy card stock. The printed lines are strong and clear. The colors were carefully applied with very little splotching outside the lines. Vergnano produced a quality product that undoubtedly cost more than the average deck of cards in his day.
The cards have all the characteristics we look for in Piemontese decks, such as the Fool with his puffy pants and butterfly, the Bagatto’s cobbler’s tools, the Devil with a face in his abdomen, and the Ace of Cups as a bowl of flowers. Click here for a list of the unique details in Piemontese-style trumps.
The court cards have pleasant, friendly faces and an air of serene confidence. The pips have clean, graceful lines. The overall color scheme is red, blue and yellow with some green. The deep colors have a mellow, aged feel.
The deck comes with a 22-page booklet giving background information on tarot in Piedmont, and the Vergnano family of card makers. There’s also a card signed and numbered by Berti.
Vergnano cards can be seen in:
Il Castello dei Tarocchi, edited by Andrea Vitali, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2010, pages 126 and 145
The Encyclopedia of Tarot, Stuart Kaplan, Volume II, page 352
The Vergnano Tarot 1830 Facebook page has photos of the cards and box, with ordering information.
With the exchange rate and shipping to the USA in early 2015, the total cost was about $100. This beautiful work of art is worth every penny.
Want to know more about Piedmont and its unique style of tarot decks? Read background information here.
Giordano Berti has just published an article on Piemontese decks, especially the Vergnano, on the World of Playing cards website.