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A Fiorentine Minchiate Restored by Marco Benedetti

Announcing a Fiorentine Minchiate deck produced by Marco Cesare Benedetti of Rome, Italy. The strong lines, rich colors and expressive faces make this limited edition deck very readable. Before I get into specifics of Benedetti’s deck, let’s get clear on what a Minchiate deck is and how it differs from tarot.

What’s a Minchiate?

four Minchiate cards

It’s one of largest playing card decks ever created — a tarot deck expanded from 78 to 97 cards by adding the four elements, twelve zodiac signs, plus the four virtues that were omitted from the tarot deck. Shown at left are Taurus, Pisces, Water, and Prudence.

The original trionfi deck from the 1430s must have seemed musty and medieval to a new generation of game players; so in mid-1400s Florence someone updated the imagery and made the game more exciting by adding nineteen trump cards. The deck and game spread quickly from the center of Minchiate production in Tuscany to the major cities of Italy, as well as Sicily, where it influenced the unique Sicilian-style tarot deck. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Minchiate decks were exported to France, Germany and London. By the nineteenth century the game was fading in popularity and eventually was played only in its original Tuscan homeland.

Minchiate Fool and Bagatto cards

Minchiate decks come in two styles: the original wood block Fiorentine, and the finely engraved Etruria which appeared in the early 18th century. You can quickly determine a deck’s style by looking at the distinctive Fool and Bagatto cards. The Fiorentine style is on top and the Etrurian on the bottom.

Minchiate Papi cards

Aside from the added cards, Minchiate deviates from tarot by reducing the Pope/Papesse and Emperor/Empress pairs to three figures. In the Etrurian style, these cards are designated the Grand Duke and the Eastern and Western Emperor, and are obviously masculine. In the older Fiorentine style they are called the Three Papi, where some seem rather androgynous or even feminine.

How Else Does Minchiate Differ From Tarot?

four Minchiate cards

The Knights are either centaurs or a hybrid man/monster. In the suits of Cups and Coins the Page is a female Maid. The Swords are straight, and there are little animals on many pip cards. The highest trump cards from numbers 33 to 40 are called the Arie and have distinctive red backgrounds, like Fame at the top of this page and the Sun to the left. The red in Benedetti’s deck is not too bright, not orangish (a color I can’t stand), and not dark and heavy. It’s a just-right Goldilocks color that sets off the rich golds and blues beautifully.

The faces on Benedetti’s court cards are expressive and individual, making the deck very readable. The court cards in each suit are easy to identify by the distinctive colors of their clothing.

Two Minchiate cards

The cards are 2.25 x 4.0 inches, printed by Ludocards in a limited edition of 50, on smooth, flexible 350 gpm card stock. The deck is very pleasant to handle and easy to shuffle.

Get your signed and numbered deck by emailing: Benedetti @

See more cards on the Marco Benedetti Tarot facebook page.

Decks used to illustrate this article
Minchiate Fiorentine. Carte Fine Benedetti, 2022. An 18th century black and white wood block print restored and colored.
Minchiate (Fiorentine). Arabako, 2004. Facsimile of a wood block deck in the Fournier Museum, Spain.
Minchiate (Etrurian). Lo Scarabeo, 2011. Facsimile of a hand painted, engraved deck in a private collection in Torino.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Marilyn from Tarot Clarity LLC #

    I love your description of the goldilocks red color. I agree that it’s perfect, it’s the first thing that struck me when I first perused my copy.
    It’s a beautiful deck, I featured it on my YouTube channel a few weeks ago, it’s glorious.

    I use it to do readings, the extra cards really help nail down who, when, where and why. I’m sometimes curious why it wasn’t the Minchiate format that captured readers’ imaginations for interpretation instead of the 78 format.

    As always, thank you for your well-informed articles. ~ Marilyn

    June 8, 2022
    • The 78-card tarot, rather than the 97-card Minchiate, became the deck of choice for divination because the French occultists who popularized tarot as a book of wisdom weren’t aware of Minchiate. By the mid- to late-18th century, both Tarot and Minchiate were out of fashion in urban centers. They were withdrawing into the French provinces and ultimately back into Italy. In fact, the tarot deck seemed rather exotic to the Parisian occultists, which allowed them to project their Egyptian fantasies onto it.
      I haven’t tried reading with the deck yet. Back in the 1990s, Brian Williams did a Minchiate deck accompanied by a fabulous book that helps tremendously with interpreting the cards. I want to do a review of it soon and do some practice readings.

      June 8, 2022
      • Marilyn from Tarot Clarity LLC #

        Hi Sheryl, thank you for your response. Yeah, I know it fell out of fashion and it totally makes sense that the French may not have known about it. But boy, it’s a powerhouse tool. I’m still surprised that in modern days, it isn’t more often utilized. It’s wonderful. ~ Marilyn

        June 8, 2022
  2. How is the quality of the card stock and the professionalism of the finish please?

    June 8, 2022
    • I’m not sure how to answer your question since “quality” is rather subjective and I’m not sure what you mean by “professionalism”. If you could give me the names of card makers whose card stock you like, I could give you a comparison, if I’m familiar with them.

      June 8, 2022
  3. Hi Sherryl, I think that in the Arabako deck the figures are only masculin in name. On the card of the Grand Duke I see a pregnant woman. And also the Western Emperor (card IIII) is clearly a beautifil lady.

    June 8, 2022
  4. Sorry, you were right, because you wrote your comments in the inversed order of the presented decks, I mistook the references. However, in the newer deck, for me the leftmost card is still a lady.

    June 8, 2022
  5. Iolon, your comments are still correct. As I see it, in the Etrurian deck on the bottom, the figure on the left has feminine face and hair, but is dressed just like the two obviously masculine figures, so that adds some ambiguity. In the Fiorentine deck on top, the left figure is obviously feminine and possibly pregnant, and the right figure is possibly feminine, but somewhat ambiguous to my eyes. I assume the Minchiate designer borrowed these figures from Bolognese tarocchino. Since those figures can be ambiguous, perhaps the Minchiate inventor was confused.

    June 8, 2022

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