Celebrating my website’s tenth anniversary: 174 blog articles and 42 website pages on tarot history, reading with non-scenic pips, and decks of historic significance. Throughout the summer, I’m going to group the most useful articles by topic and send out links in a series of blog posts.
Today I’m listing everything I’ve written about the soprafino style. Originating in Milan in the 1830s, it has been reproduced by many publishers down to Lo Scarabeo’s current mass market version. Printers have borrowed random details from the style, especially in Piedmont. See reviews of those decks listed in last week’s blog post on Piedmont decks.
When I saw this print on the Hyperallergic art blog, I immediately thought it must have been the inspiration for the Soprafino Death card (see below). The artist’s palette caught my eye first. Then I noticed so many other items the two images have in common: gold chains, a medallion, bishop’s hat, armor, a spear point and crown. I think I see the spine of a book near the far right edge of the print. The book isn’t nearly as prominent as on the card, but the stone tablet on the print sits in nearly the same location and tilted at the same angle as the Soprafino book. Read more
I got very excited when I saw this deck (I Tarocchi Serravalle, published by Avondo) in the Belgian Tarot Museum’s video on Facebook. I thought Avondo might still be in business and printing contemporary Piemontese decks.
But I found the deck on Italian eBay and discovered it’s a trumps-only version of the deck sold by Lo Scarabeo as the Ancient Italian Tarot. It’s called a mini deck, but no dimensions were given. I’ve learned that in other languages “mini” often means 22 cards rather than small in size. I’ve seen it listed for sale on other Italian websites, but have never seen the publisher listed. 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
On New Year’s Day I picked up my free readings for the week over at EnchantedSpirit.com (more about them below). One of my favorite features, “Tarot Treats”, delivers a card for the week on Sunday that I like to work with throughout the week.
My New Year’s Day card was the Ace of Swords – the perfect talisman for someone who has just resolved to do more writing and blogging in 2012. So far this week I’ve used two of my favorite techniques with this card.
I shuffled just the minor arcana of the Soprafino deck while asking for a message about how I can support Ace of Swords energy in my life during the week. When the deck felt well-shuffled, I went through it card by card until I found the Ace of Swords, and pulled it out along with the cards on either side of it. This gave me a spread where the cards work together synergistically rather than being compartmentalized into separate spread positions. Then I took the sum of the three cards (10) and found the corresponding trump card (Wheel of Fortune) to give me the theme of the reading. Read more
A new Tarot deck style was born in 1835 when the Milanese printer Ferdinand Gumppenberg commissioned a deck from the artist/engraver Carlo Dellarocca. As the most elegant and refined Italian deck of its time, it quickly became known as i tarocchi sopraffini, the super-fine tarot. Many of its unique design elements were adopted by 19th century card printers. In the 1990s it experienced a revival when two publishers reprinted Dellarocca-inspired decks. Read more
Do you want to start reading with the Tarot de Marseilles (TdM) or some other historic deck, but you aren’t sure how to pick the right one for you? In the Cartomancy section I gave a run-down of decks by category and style, but I didn’t talk much about the actual selection process. Here’s how I go about evaluating a deck as a possible reading companion. Read more