Gold Foil Visconti-Sforza Deck by Lo Scarabeo
One of my favorite Visconti-Sforza decks has just been re-issued — seventy-eight cards in sparkling gold foil published by Lo Scarabeo. Unfortunately the gold doesn’t scan well; but trust me, it’s dazzling. I had to photograph the box at an odd angle to see the light reflecting off the gold. This deck is one of the first historic reproductions I ever purchased nearly twenty years ago. I read with it often, so I’m very happy to have a back-up deck in case I lose a card. But there is one very big let-down that would otherwise be a deal killer for me. Here’s a comparison of the two editions.
The newer cards are slightly larger and their backs are more colorful. Aside from that, the 2000 and 2021 versions are identical, except for one very big disappointment concerning the replacement Devil and Tower cards.
The older edition is on the left. The images are derived from the Rothschild Sheet of about 1500 and are more appropriate for a deck created in the early 1450s. The Atanasov cards on the right appear in most of Lo Scarabeo’s Visconti-Sforza decks. They have anachronistic Tarot de Marseille features, and a very incompatible style. The only deck still in print where you can find the earlier version of these cards is Lo Scarabeo’s mini Visconti-Sforza deck (1.5 x 3.0 inches).
I covered the inevitable printed borders of my deck with a black felt-tip pen.
I like this deck because the images are very true to the originals and very readable. The 550-year-old cards are almost as shiny as the gold foil of this deck. The historically accurate embossed background adds to the sparkle.
If the anachronistic Tower and Devil don’t bother you, this is a lovely deck to add to your collection. The early version can still be found online occasionally as a used deck. I found a copy a few years ago in a second-hand book store in California.
Here’s my article comparing the Devil and Tower of several Visconti-Sforza decks which explains why most artist’s replacement cards ruin the deck for me.
Going back over forty years, I saw my first Visconti tarot cards in a NY museum and I begged the universe to release a copy lol. When this deck finally came out several years later I was overjoyed. It was the first historic tarot deck I ever owned. I still have it and its mini version. I didn’t realize the original ‘formula’ was discontinued for one with replacement cards for the Devil and Tower. I agree with you about those cards. How could they have gotten that so wrong? And after all these years of people complaining, you’d think Lo Scarabeo would also skip the writing on the borders. ~ Marilyn
Hi Marilyn, How lucky you were to be inspired by the original cards so long ago. I first saw the cards in the Morgan Library about 15 years ago. I just happened to be there when they were displaying the entire portion of the deck they own, instead of just a handful of cards. A very magical experience.
It began a life long passion. Thank you for responding, and also for your great articles. ~ Marilyn