Has anyone read the folded sheet of paper that comes with every Il Meneghello deck? Recently I became curious enough to dust off my Italian dictionary and read it carefully. Osvaldo Menegazzi, the owner and artistic force behind Il Meneghello, is a native of Milan who’s been immersed in tarot most of his long life. I was hoping for special insights from a Milanese perspective. Instead I got a dose of Oswald Wirth. 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
Osvaldo Menegazzi, the artistic genius behind Il Meneghello, has once again created a beautiful facsimile of an historic tarot deck. This deck, commissioned by the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti, in the 1440s, is one of the oldest Italian tarocchi decks we know of. The cards were hand-painted on an embossed gold background, much like the Visconti-Sforza deck commissioned by Filippo’s son-in-law, Francesco Sforza, a decade later. Read more
I’m totally enchanted by Osvaldo Menegazzi’s latest production, a handcrafted facsimile of a Piedmont-style deck from the late 19th century. The deck was originally printed by Strambo in the town of Varallo on the Sesia River in eastern Piedmont.
The cards have a charming, folk art feel with deep, rich colors printed on smooth card stock that feels very nice to shuffle. At 2.5 x 4.5 inches (6.5 x 11.5 cm) they are a bit smaller than standard cards but not small enough to be called a mini deck.
The deck is housed in a very sturdy, handmade box covered with dark-brown marbled paper. A Fool card is pasted on the cover and finished with red sealing wax. Inside, there’s a folded paper with standard Il Meneghello divinatory meanings. In addition, there’s a very brief discussion of the Piemontese style in English and Italian, and a title card with a handwritten number. Read more
In 1998, Il Meneghello printed 300 of these lovely decks. Arnell Ando has purchasing information on her website for the few remaining decks (link below).
The soprafino deck engraved by Carlo Della Rocca @1835 appears to be draw in pencil, creating images that are soft, delicate and refined. According to Cristina Dorsini, Il Meneghello’s art director, these cards are reprints of Della Rocca’s original engravings.
The women, and many of the beardless men, have rather sweet, bland expressions; while the mature men have stronger, and more varied facial expressions. Read more
Deck collectors have three versions of the fifteenth-century Sola Busca deck to choose from: decks published by Lo Scarabeo, Il Meneghello, and Wolfgang Mayer. My hands-down favorite is the Mayer deck, currently sold by Giordano Berti, so I’ll describe it first, then compare it to the others. Read more
The Sola Busca Tarocchi was created about 1490 in Northern Italy, and is named for the family who owned the deck until 2009, when they sold it to the Italian government and it was placed in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan.
There are two theories about the deck’s creator: either he was an artist named Nicola who had connections to Florence and Ancona; or he was an unknown Ferrarese artist living in Venice; or perhaps it was printed in Ferrara and colored in Venice. We don’t know if the artist created the deck himself, or if it was a commission. A small number of decks were printed from the plates, and a handful of unpainted examples from four different decks are scattered about in museums and private collections. The 78-card Sola Busca in the Pinacoteca di Brera, which was painted a decade or so after it was printed, is the deck that Mayer and Il Meneghello used as the basis for their recent facsimile publications. Read more