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
My 1983 Vandenborre deck by Carta Mundi has been sitting unused on a shelf for a few decades. After falling in love with Pablo Robledo’s recent production of the deck, and discovering a third version on the market at the GameofHope website, I went on a buying spree then sat down to compare the decks. All three decks faithfully recreate the lines on the original cards, but none is a photo facsimile. The stains and tax stamps have been eliminated, making each deck pristine. (There’s a link at the bottom where you can see the original cards in the British Museum.) Here’s a run-down of how the decks compare. Read more
I am very excited about this fresh new version of the 1762 Vandenborre deck published this month by the Argentinian tarot maker Pablo Robledo.
This Brussels-Rouen pattern deck is first cousin to the Tarot de Marseille. Some of its unique imagery may stem from a lost tradition that migrated from Ferrara to France and Belgium. Its most notable feature is the substitution of the Spanish Captain and Bacchus for the Papesse and Pope. Read a lot more information about this deck and the Captain in another blog article here. Read more
Another beautiful edition of The Cartomancer just arrived in my mailbox. With a new owner, Arwen Lynch, the magazine has become even more eclectic. This issue contains thoughts on shadow work with tarot, plus articles on divination with tea leaves, Lenormand decks and playing cards. I was very happy to see several pages of tarot art in rich colors on a black background — a tradition in each issue. Read more
This deck is an 18th-century Tarot de Marseille redrawn with a contemporary folk art flavor. The lacy vegetation on the pips and the bright pastel colors like aqua, violet and peach give the deck a fresh, airy feel without being cloying or cute. Read more
Once there was a time when lovers of tarot seeking to look at beautiful cards had to (gasp!!) purchase a book! In that long-ago time (say, 1976) there was no Google, no wikis, no surfing nor clicking. To indulge your tarot obsession, you hopped in your Ford Pinto and drove to a local bookstore where these beautifully illustrated volumes nestled on a shelf.
The three books described here are all over-sized, hardbound, beautifully illustrated, focused on the Tarot de Marseille, and published between 1973 and 1986. They’re easy to obtain for about $5.00 at online used booksellers. Yes, you can see many more decks online, but there’s something magical about holding a large book in your hands and looking at a curated selection of cards. Read more
Hop on a magic carpet and let Jean Huets fly you back to 1447, when a war between Milan and Venice had northern Italy in turmoil, the Sforzas were still a few years away from ruling Milan, and tarot was a novelty.
The Tarocchino Bolognese engraved by Giuseppe Mitelli is a unique treasure. Just as the Visconti-Sforza deck was a luxury item commissioned by an aristocrat from a prominent artist in Cremona, this exceptionally beautiful deck was commissioned around 1660 by Count Bentivoglio of Bologna from a prolific Bolognese artist. Read more
Sullivan Hismans, at Tarot Sheet Revival, has worked tarot magic again by creating an actual deck from sheets of tarot cards printed @1500 and housed in the Rosenwald collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. Read more
Sigismondo Malatesta, bad boy of the Renaissance, gave us our first documented evidence for tarot. Researcher Franco Pratesi discovered a note in a Florentine account book dated September 16, 1440 saying a deck of naibi a trionfi had been sent to Malatesta that was beautiful, expensive and decorated with his arms. In 1452 he surfaced again in connection with tarot. Bianca, the Duchess of Milan, sent a note to her husband Francesco saying Malatesta was asking for the trionfi cards that were made in Cremona. Read more