Tarocchi or Italian TdM decks



In the 16th Century the interest in Italy for Tarocchi decks disappeared slowly to die out completely in the 17th century. As a consequence the Tarocco deck (plural of Tarocchi decks) with 78 cards disappeared as a game. Next to the standard card decks without a specific trump suit, only the Tarocchino and the Minchiate  decks  continued to be played in a large region around Bologna and Florence. Tarocchino decks are known to have been printed not only in Bologna, but also in Ferrara and surviving copies of the Minchiate deck were created in Florence, Bologna and Roma.  In the 18th Century,  the Marseille Tarot regained great interest in Italy,  and many card makers in Italy started to copy the Marseille Tarot, including the French Titles. The Tarocchi games with French titles are all copies of the Type I Marseille Tarot. It is possible , as we have seen on the page dealing with the ancestors of the Marseille Tarot,  that the Marseille tarot had his origins in the region around Milan, but the 18th Century Tarocchi cards are clearly copies of the French Marseille Tarot and not of earlier Italian decks. Lets us have a look at some of the decks:

From left to right we have the French Type I Marseille Tarot made by Jean Payen (1713), and three Tarocchi decks made by respectively Schultori Torelli (Serravalle, Piedmont, mid 18th Century), Beltramo (Torino, second half of the 18th Century) and Giuseppe Smit (Bologna, mid 18th Century). Comment is not needed, the Frenck type I Marseille Tarot is clearly an ancestor of the 18th Century Tarocchi decks.

The above mentioned Beltramo and another Torinese cardmaker named Rossi, were the first who offered two decks together in one single wrapping, the Beltramo cards with French titles and the Rossi cards with Italian titles. Some examples here below:

Tarocchi decks in both languages were made in many Italian cities. As an example, we know of several decks that were made in Bologna (Osvaldo Menegazzi produced in 1986 under the name of Il  Meneghello a beautiful reproduction of a late 18th Century Tarot of Bologna deck using French titles). But the most popular they were in the Piedmont area. When in the rest of Italy only Italian language decks were produced, in the Piedmont the habit continued to produce decks in both languages. As an example below cards of two decks produced in the first half of the 19th Century by the Torino based cardmaker Vergnano.

In Torino we see another particularity when moving from the French titled cards to the Italian titled cards. Some cardmakers try to distinguish themselves from the TdM pattern in changing some details on the cards. Let us have a look at the Beltramo/Rossi couple and to the Vergnano couple in both languages:

Amongst other small differences we see that the jumping animal (dog/cat) has been replaced by a butterfly and that a flower replaces the other vegetation. In other regions in Italy the Tarot decks also continue to develop themselves. Many cardmakers takes the original models less and less strict. Although still based on the TdM images, they shift away and cannot be onsidered anymore as simple clones of the Marseille Tarot. When in the Piedmont area the Marseille Tarot design is still more or less respected, elsewhere cardmakers perfection the cardmaking technique and come with their proper designs. Here below two examples of the Milano based cardmaker Gumppenberg made at approximately the same time as the two Vergnano examples here above.

The two leftmost cards are from the so-called Tarot of Lombardy and the two rightmost cards from the Dellarocca deck. Remark on the tower the shield with the blazon of the Visconti family as a tribute to the 15th Century Milanese card makers.

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