Zoni Tarot de Marseille: Big and Small
I’ve just acquired the tiniest deck in my historical facsimile collection — a miniature version (1-1/8 x 2-¼ inches) of Il Meneghello’s reproduction of a TdM printed in Bologna in 1780 by Giacomo Zoni. Lo Scarabeo also publishes a facsimile. Shown above is a mini card superimposed on the Lo Scarabeo, which is a bit larger than Il Meneghello’s full-size version.
The Lo Scarabeo deck is lighter and brighter than the Il Meneghello. Mercifully, they’ve omitted the card names in five languages that usually clutter their borders. The border is a soft gray-green which blends well with the deck. I’ve heard they also have version with a blue border decorated with blue dots.
Speaking of dots, this deck is covered with them. The cards look like they have chickenpox. I have assumed this was damage from aging, but in some cards the dots are placed too regularly or symmetrically to be random damage. Also, the dots are too round and similar in size; they don’t resemble the usual splotches and stains you get on these very old decks. Compare the random dots on the Three of Coins to the dots marching up the sword blade.
There’s another Bolognese deck, from 1725, with the same type of dots, the Geographia Tarocchi in Kaplan Volume I page 147. I can’t imagine why someone would put those dots on the cards deliberately. Did they really think they were enhancing the deck? Does anyone have a theory about them?
This deck is historically interesting because it comes from Bologna but is not a Bolognese deck with the four Moors and shortened numerical suits. Since the card titles are in French, it was most likely made for export.
There’s a lot I like about this deck. The faces are lively and intelligent. The rich colors are mostly teal blue, green, antique gold and rust. It comes in the usual Il Meneghello box covered in handmade paper and with a card glued to the top. The dots really put me off, but in the tiny deck they’re less intrusive. I’ve been wanting a very small, light TdM to carry around with me, and this might be the one.
Decks illustrated in this article:
Ancient Tarots of Bologna, Lo Scarabeo, Torino, 2000.