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Published April 16, 2013 Updated May 25, 2023

Mitelli Tarocchini

The title refers to “a new form of Tarocchini”. Mitelli's designs are to a high standard of artistic quality and a complete departure from the old tradition, especially the 22 Trump cards which are unnamed and unnumbered.

1664 Italy Graffica Gutenberg Mitelli Bolognese Facsimiles & Replicas Tarot Tarocchini Tarocco Add to Collection

Mitelli’s “Tarocchini di Bologna” (1664)

Mitelli’s designs are to a high standard of artistic quality and a departure from the old tradition, especially the 22 Trumps. The title refers to “a new form of Tarocchini” so maybe Mitelli wanted to express his own interpretation of the Trump cards. There are four court cards, plus aces and numerals six to ten in each suit making a total of 62 cards, a number suited to the game the deck was intended for. The coins have little portraits inside them. The Ace of Cups has the arms of the Bentivoglio family for whom the cards were made. The Ace of Coins has a portrait medallion with the artist’s name.

Above: Tarocchini di Bologna by Gioseppe Maria Mitelli, hand-coloured etchings, 1664. Facsimile edition by Graffica Gutenberg, 1978. Cards from the collection of Rod Starling.


Original Tarocchini cards by Gioseppe Maria Mitelli - from the Bibliothèque nationale de France

Tarocchini cards by Gioseppe Maria Mitelli. Source gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Above: original cards by Gioseppe Maria Mitelli. Source gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France: Gioco di carte, con nuova forma di tarrochini, intaglio in Roma


Facsimile by Edizioni del Solleone, 1977

Above: the cards were also published as uncoloured prints in book form with the title “Giuoco di carte, con nuova forma di Tarocchini, intaglio in Roma di Guiseppe Maria Mitelli...”. The Ace of Coins has a portrait medallion with the artist’s name. Mitelli’s fanciful designs are a break from the earlier hand-painted tarocchi cards produced in Italy, but there are several instances where the decorative designs on the numeral cards and some of the Trumps remind us of other, earlier, packs of tarocchi or ordinary playing cards. The Trumps are unnamed and unnumbered. However, the four 'Popes' are numbered by hand: 1: 2: 3: 4: as part of the reproduction, so were presumably handwritten on the originals. Adam West-Watson wrote: "One can only assume the numbers were put on so as to determine who won the hand when two Popes were played to the same trick. And I guess, in true archivist style, Vito left the numbers on to make a very genuine facsimile of what must be an extraordinarily rare deck." Cards from the facsimile edition published by Vito Arienti, Edizioni del Solleone, in 1977.


REFERENCES

Hargrave, Catherine Perry: A History of Playing Cards and a Bibliography of Cards and Gaming, Dover Publications, New York, 1966

Mann, Sylvia: All Cards on the Table, Jonas Verlag/Deutsches Spielkarten-Museum, Leinfelden-Echterdingen, 1990

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


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