The Cary-Yale Visconti Tarrochi deck

Written by  on November 16, 2015 

The Cary-Yale Visconti Tarot is a faithful reproduction of an original Italian fifteenth century tarot deck. The deck has the 67 cards that are still in existence in Yale University’s Cary Collection of Playing Cards, plus recreations for 19 missing cards. This Visconti deck is also unusual because it has male and female Knights and Pages in the court cards.
The Visconti-Sforza tarot deck is a 15th-century tarot deck and one of the oldest known to exist. It had a significant impact on the visual composition, card numbering and interpretation of modern decks.
The surviving cards are of particular historical interest because of the beauty and detail of the design, which was often executed in precious materials and often reproduce members of the Sforza and Visconti families in period garments and settings. Consequently, the cards also offer a glimpse of nobiliary life in Milan, which the two families called home since the 13th century. When commissioned by Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, and by his successor Francesco Sforza, the cards were still known as Trionfi (“triumphs” i.e. trump) cards, and used for everyday playing.
The name “Visconti-Sforza tarot” is used collectively to refer to incomplete sets of approximately 15 decks, now located in various museums, libraries, and private collections around the world. No complete deck has survived; rather, some collections boast a few face cards, while some consist of a single card.

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