If you can only own one or two Visconti Sforza decks, before purchasing you need to familiarize yourself with the replacement cards – Tower, Devil and Knight of Coins. (The Three of Swords is also replaced, but it’s hard to mess that one up.)
There are at least eleven versions of the Pierpont Morgan Bergamo Visconti Sforza Tarocchi (to use its official name) by six different publishers. It comes in two basic flavors: a photo-reproduction of the cards as they exist now with chipped paint, flaking gold and nail holes top center; or a restored version that’s been touched up to look like new. Some decks are the original size (3.5 x 7 inches), while some are smaller. The images in all decks are identical except the four lost cards. Every publisher hires an artist to create replacements, which vary greatly and can make or break a deck. Read more
If you bought the first edition of the Pierre Madenié deck produced by Yves Reynaud in 2013, do you need to get the second edition as well? Yes, you probably do.
Even though it’s my number one reading deck, I initially felt a second copy was an unnecessary indulgence. Besides, I was afraid the newer, cleaned-up version might be too pristine. I prefer historical facsimiles that preserve the original intact; so I shudder at the thought of someone touching up historic cards to conform to their arbitrary criteria of perfection. But a fellow collector convinced me the second edition was even more beautiful than the first, so I succumbed to temptation. I’m very glad I did. Read more
I already have three full-sized facsimiles of the Visconti-Sforza deck. So when I came across yet another version, published by Il Meneghello in 1996, I wrestled with temptation for a couple of weeks before succumbing. I’m very glad temptation won out because this deck is the best of the lot.
I compared this deck with my other three: Dal Negro, USGames 1984 and USGames 2015 (with portraits of Francesco and Bianca Sforza on extra cards). Read more
This magazine just keeps getting better. The latest issue has several articles that especially intrigued me.
In the Tarot Art section, Monica Bodirsky’s Lucky Lenormand deck caught my eye. Its swirling, free form watercolor background appeals to me since I adore abstract art. Bodirsky appears twice more. Bonnie Cehovet reviewed her deck, then Bodirsky contributed an article on cartomancy, the proliferation of Lenormand decks, and the role imagery plays in a reading. Read more
As far as I know, there are only a few Besançon-style decks on the market. I’ll start my survey with the most affordable and accessible deck, a re-creation by Evalyne Hall. While translating the writings of Antoine Court de Gebelin and the Comte de Mellet (18th century French authors who were the first to link Tarot and Kaballah), she realized de Mellet used a Besançon deck. Since she didn’t have access to this type of deck, she created her own by lovingly re-drawing historic cards that reside in Paris in the Bibliothèque Nationale. Read more
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. Read more
A collector recently discovered a trove of uncut sheets of tarot and playing cards that have been sitting in Turin’s archives of since the mid-19th century. Giordano Berti has given new life to one of these forgotten decks by transforming the black and white uncut sheets into the beautifully colored Tarocchi Orientali.
The deck was created by Claudio Foudraz, a lithographer working in Turin in the mid-19th century. As an all-purpose lithographer he printed business cards, invitations, ads and art prints. Foudraz’s tarot deck was useless for game playing because of mistakes in the numbering, which the current edition corrects, so it probably never reached the market. Read more
The Museo dei Tarocchi near Bologna, Italy has given us many highly creative art decks. Now they have produced an historically significant bolognese tarocchi based on an original that rests in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.
Bologna has its own unique tarot tradition that dates back to the early sixteenth century, and possibly earlier. The order of the trumps is slightly different, and pips two through five of each suit have been removed to make a shortened deck that was very popular for card games back then. Some trump cards have distinct imagery: the Fool as a street musician playing a drum and horn, the Three Magi on the Star card, and a woman with a spindle for the Sun are just a few examples. The Aces are very distinctive as well. In the early 18th century the deck took its present form when the Empress, Emperor, Papesse and Pope were changed into the four Moors and the trump and court cards became double-headed. Read more
The August 2016 edition of The Cartomancer contains two weighty, serialized articles, as well as the usual gorgeous artwork and an intriguing range of topics. The article that anchors this edition for me is Marseille Tarot: A Phylosophical Enquiry by three Brazilian tarotists. In this article, the first of two, the authors describe various philosophical approaches to tarot study. Quite frankly, I had a hard time sorting it out; but here’s how I disentangled the threads into four main approaches to tarot: Read more