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Posts from the ‘Tarot History’ Category

I Tarocchi Rosenwald by Marco Benedetti

There’s something compelling about the Rosenwald deck. It’s enough like the Tarot de Marseille to feel comfortable; yet its quirky details give it a slightly exotic tone. For a transcendent experience, hold Benedetti’s gold and silver Rosenwald cards in your hands. Read more

The Deck and Book of the Deification of Sixteen Heroes

The legendary “da Tortona” deck, grandfather of all tarocchi/tarot decks, is now accessible thanks to a small but incredibly rich book by Ross G. Caldwell and Marco Ponzi; and a recreated deck by Robert Place, The Marziano Tarot.

About 1420, the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti, asked his secretary and advisor, commonly known as Marziano da Tortona, to invent a card game. Marziano created the Game of Sixteen Deified Heroes, a deck of cards with four suits numbered ace to ten and an extra suit of illustrated cards – the same format as the game of trionfi/tarocchi/tarot invented about 15 years later. Read more

The Visconti Sforza Tarot: A Book by Cristina Dorsini

Just released: The third book in Dorsini’s trilogy about the fifteenth-century Visconti decks.

In the fifteenth century, Italian aristocrats would commission an artist to make a one-of-a-kind tarot deck painted with precious materials on a background of embossed gold leaf. The three most complete decks in existence were commissioned by the Dukes of Milan in mid-century. The Il Meneghello workshop has created facsimiles of all three decks and published three books with historic and artistic background information. Read more

The Jean Dodali Tarot Recreated by Sullivan Hismans

The Dodal/Dodali Tarot, one of the earliest and most historically important Tarot de Marseille (TdM) decks, has been beautifully recreated by Sullivan Hismans at Tarot Sheet Revival, after two years of painstaking craftsmanship. Hismans, who gave us recreations of the Budapest and Rosenwald sheets, is a visual artist fascinated by the physical reality of tarot cards and the craft of card making. His process is the same with all his decks – he examines different versions of the cards available in museum databases, takes the elements apart, then alchemically recombines them to create a transformed, but historically accurate deck. Read more

Oswald Wirth Facsimile Decks by Marco Benedetti

For the first and last time on this blog I’m reviewing a deck by a DFO (Dead French Occultist). I usually run out of the room when someone starts in about Kabbalistic associations with tarot (it’s a personal hang-up). But I know a gorgeous deck when I see one. Marco Benedetti’s gold foil edition of Wirth’s 1926 deck is pure magic. Read more

Trzes’ Mamluk Deck: The Granddaddy of European Playing Cards

In 1931, Leo Mayer discovered a nearly complete deck of medieval playing cards in the Topkapi Museum of Istanbul, giving the world solid proof that European playing cards originated in the Islamic world. With its ornate design and gold accents, this deck is comparable to the hand-painted, gold-embellished decks that were the rage among Italian aristocracy in the mid-15th century.

The Trzes deck is a modern reconstruction based closely on the original, with fifteen reconstructed cards. The booklet says it’s “a recreation from scratch that makes use of the original design principles…the cards the Mamluk people might have produced, had they access to modern technology, such as vector graphics software or modern printing devices.” Read more

Tarocchi di Besançon Miller 1780

When we think of the Tarot de Marseille (TdM), France usually comes to mind. But the game of tarot was played throughout Europe, with locally printed decks that had their own unique touches. Giordano Berti has recently produced facsimiles of two German Tarot de Marseille decks. The Tarocchi Miller is a Besançon-style deck where the Pope and Papesse are replaced with Jupiter and Juno. Read more

The Budapest Tarot Recreated by Sullivan Hismans

In the 1440s, you could go to the store and buy a pack of cards for playing the popular new game of Trionfi. What did those cards look like? Did they resemble our familiar tarot cards? We can’t be sure because not a single printed tarot deck survives from the 15th century. All we have are a handful of gold-covered cards commissioned by wealthy aristocrats. Luxury decks like the Visconti-Sforza prove that by the mid-1400s tarot decks had 78 cards including our familiar twenty-two trump cards. But we don’t know how closely these luxury decks resembled cards printed for the masses. Read more

Golden Decks of the Fifteenth Century: The Visconti di Modrone and Brera-Brambilla Tarocchi

Nearly two decades ago, Il Meneghello of Milan gave us the best facsimile available of the 1450 Visconti-Sforza deck. Now they’ve outdone themselves by producing facsimiles of the two earliest trionfi/tarocchi decks we know of — luxurious gold-covered cards created for the Duke of Milan in the early 1440s. Il Meneghello printed the Visconti di Modrone deck in 2015 and 2017, and released a book in 2018. The Brera-Brambilla deck was published in the summer of 2018 with its accompanying book available in September. Read more

I Tarocchi di Valentina Visconti per il Palio d’Asti

Acquiring this hard-to-find deck inspired me to get acquainted with Valentina Visconti and learn about the chapter of her life depicted in these cards.

In 1389, Valentina set out in a magnificent procession from Milan to France to meet her husband Louis, Duke of Orléans, brother of the mad king of France, Charles VI. They had been married in a proxy ceremony two years before, but meeting in person was delayed while Valentina’s father, the Duke of Milan, scraped together her extremely expensive dowry. The procession stopped in the town of Asti to spend five days enjoying the Palio (horse races). Read more