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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

Tarocco Piemontese | Piedmontese tarot

The double ended version of the Piedmontese Tarot evolved during the second half of the nineteenth century, most probably in Turin. It is still produced and used today.

Tarocco Piemontesi cupid

TAROCCO PIEMONTESI double-ended version

Although it originally was a single-figured, or full-length design, the double ended version of the Piedmontese Tarot shown on this page evolved during the second half of the nineteenth century, most probably in Turin. It is still produced and used today. The usual format is with Italian inscriptions (instead of French) and Arabic numerals on the trumps. The manufacturer's details can be read on the ace of coins. In the top row this reads: “Viassone Alessandro, Torino, Fabbrica Via Nizza 104, Deposito Via Arsenale 4” and there are two duty stamps, one dated “13 Gen 85”.

Tarocco Piemontesi by Viassone, Turin, 1885 Tarocco Piemontesi by Viassone, Turin, c.1920

Above: Tarocchi Piemontese manufactured by Viassone, Turin, 1885 & c.1920.

Tarocco Piemontesi by Armanino, c.1965

Above: Tarocchi Piemontesi manufactured by Armanino, Rome, c.1965. The Ace of Cups is a chalice containing flowers.

Tarocco Piemontesi by Modiano, 2000

Above: Tarocchi Piemontesi manufactured by Modiano. Image courtesy Rex Pitts.

The 78-card Italian ‘Piedmontese’ Tarot has survived where other styles have become extinct and is used outside Italy.

Tarocco Piemontesi by Cappellano S.A.

Above: Naipes Tarok (Tarocco Piemontese) by Cappellano S.A., Bs Aires, c.1970. 78 + 2 cards. Further examples of Tarocco Piemontese manufactured in Argentina are shown here