Wednesday, 28 December 2011

swiss playing cards "Jass" ( Müller)

Swiss playing cards, AG Müller, 36c.
In switzerland, two kinds of playing cards are used. there is one, with french suits, and another, with the native swiss suits, described here.
 The native swiss playing cards are a very interesting deck to say the least. the cards maintain some ancient features that were one present in german playing cards, but now long gone.
It has been said that the swiss cardmakers were so conservative, a man from the 15th c. will be quite at home with the playing cards of 1950s schaffhausen.
Things of note:
1- the tens have been replaced by banners, a feature found in the most primitive of german cards ( fith card from right in all of the pictures)
2 the court cards have their ranks spelled out (  viz; KÖING, OBER, UNDER)

for the french suited pattern mentioned earlier, see:

Monday, 19 December 2011

"No. 32" ( fournier)

"No. 32" ( fournier) , 48c. + 2 jokers and 1 spare.
This deck is of the Catalan pattern, which is a reworked version of the spanish national pattern.  Aldough it is rarely used in spain, it is quite commonly used in latin america.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Sicilian tarot, part 3

Sicilian tarot, part 3- the trumps:
the Sicilian tarot's trumps are quite unusual. for starters, instead of the pope at trump 5,  we have temperance. likewise, as I have stated in the introduction, the highest trump is marked 20, and depicts Jove.
Sometime after its introduction into Sicily, some figures of the tarot deck, viz; the devil, and the tower were judged to have been offensive ( apparently, by the duchess  Rosalia Caccamo), and were replaced by more innocuous counterarts: the devil was replaced by a ship (taken from the minchiate deck) However, the reason why the tower was censored was because, according to reports,  it originally depicted a person being dragged down to hell......
However, strangely, some other subjects escaped censorship:. take 11 for example, "the hanged man" in most tarot decks, the figure is suspended from the foot. However, in this deck, the unfortunare is depicted quite graphically strung by his neck!. Also, on 19, the sun, we see 2 men [ cain &abel?] , one about to club the other.  also, no 13, death , escaped censorship altogether.

part 1-

 for another review of this deck , see:

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Sicilian tarot, part 2

Sicilian tarot, part 2- the court cards:
the courts of the Sicilian deck are very interesting. For starters, the knaves are female. this mirrors the ancient portugese cards, where the jacks in the suits of cups and coins were female.
in the suit of batons, observe the knave. she is holding a parrot. innocuous, you may say, but in former times, the parrot was a dragon....

see part 1
part 3 -

Sicilian tarot, an introduction:

The Sicilian tarot is the least common of the three tarot decks that are made in italy. Indeed so restricted is their use in that island that according to Michael Dummet,the averege Sicilian will immeadietly tell you that the deck is cartomantic in nature when presented with one.

This idosyncratic deck is of 64 cards, and is quite small ( 8 x 4.5 cm).
the deck has , as usual,22 trumps, but of these, 20 are numbered ( the highest ,20, depicts Jove with thunderbolts). So what happened to the other 2? well, there is the fool, but he has another wretched companion,"miseria" ( poverty) , thus bringing the total number to 22.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Württemberg pattern , ASS altenburg

Württemberg pattern , 48 cards ( 2 x 24) , ASS altenburg.

The Württemberg pattern is somewhat of a hodge-podge. The court cards probably evolved from the courts of a Tarock ( german version of tarot) deck , hence the mounted obers in the deck ( tarot/tarock decks, needless to say, have knights).
The deck comes in two forms, the first, and less common form, is a normal 32- card deck , for playing skat, schafkopf ( sheepshead),  &c. The second, and more common form, ( shown here) is comprised of two 24-card decks united together, with the following ranks in each suit
Ace, King, Ober, Under , 10, 7
The curious ranking is because this deck is used to play the game of "binokel", in which the 10 and 7 hold special powers. This game, which my American readers may know as "pinochle" used to be played with a pair of 32 card decks, till the players threw out the non-scoring ranks of eight and nine.
Note the following features:
1- The obers have their name written out in full on them
2-The under of bells carries a knapsack
3- The aces are decorated with pictures of food and drink.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

"Tarocco bolognese" (Dal negro)- part II

I shall procced to discuss the trumps of this deck.
The trump sequence used here is very unusual, and idosyncratic.
the top row of the above picture shows the lowest 6 trumps. from the left, are the Fool, the magician (operating a shell game) , and the four moors. The reason why I show only three cards, is that there are two copies of the middle of the three ( 4th from left). ( see for history of the moors)

we then procced to the second row, and the trumps 12-16. The hanged man [12] is depited twice on the card, and so on to 16, the star

we now arrive at the top 4 trumps, " la Grànda "- the greats. The cards, are by tradition, not named, so the player is to deduce the rank from the image. the cards are, from L-R, the moon, the sun, the angel and the world. 

Tarocco bolognese , Dal negro- part I

Tarocco bolognese , Dal negro. 62 cards.
 the court cards of this deck are almost identical to the ones in the "primera bolognese " pattern, save with the addition of queens.

It would also be of interest that this pattern  was one of the first patterns to be double faced, ( c. 1800)

"Tarocco bolognese" (Dal negro) - introduction

The Tarocco bolognese or "tarocchino"  is the idosyncratic tarot deck, used in Bologna.
 It gets it's other name , tarocchino, ( little tarot) , from the fact that whilst a normal deck of tarot cards has 78 cards, this deck has only 62 cards. so what happened to the other 16 cards?

The reason for this is the absence of the number cards of 2-5 in each of the four suits , probably to make the game more interesting by eliminating useless lower ranks. This is especially telling, when you consider the games played with this deck place a heavy emphasis on scoring combinations of cards.

Another unusual feature of this deck is that the trumps 2,3,4 and 5 have been replaced by four Moors. why was this so? . Well, if you consider the fact that in the normal tarot, the aforesaid ranks are the popess, empress, emperor and pope,  you will not e surprised to hear that the depiction of these ranks greatly angered the papal authorities when they came to  hear of this. therefore, as a compromise, the makers printed the offending ranks as moors.

This also tells us something about the games played with the deck back then. If the fope, popess, emperor and empress were replaced with four [almost] identical subjects, We can infer that whatever game played with the deck treated the aforementioned series treated them as equal.
part I ---