The Cary-Yale Visconti deck may be the oldest Tarot deck in existence. It is one of several hand-painted Italian decks that the Visconti family commissioned in the 15th Century. 67 cards remain in existence.
Named after the Cary Collection of Playing Cards, absorbed into the Yale University Library in 1967, it is also known as the Visconti di Modrone set, and has been dated back to around 1466. Some scholars have, conversely, suggested this may be in fact the oldest of sets, perhaps commissioned by Filippo Maria Visconti at the onset of the project. 67 cards (11 trumps, 17 face cards and 39 “pip” cards) have survived, which has led to the (disputed) suggestion that, given the distribution of the Pierpont-Morgan deck, the total number of cards when this set was produced should have amounted to 86.
In the 2007 book “The history of the tarot”, scholar Giordano Berti proposes that the deck was produced between 1442 and 1447, because the denari (coin) cards bear the recto and verso of the golden florin coined by F. M. Visconti in 1442 and withdrawn from circulation at his death, in 1447.
The Cary-Yale Visconti deck is unique in that it seems to have been created with 6 court cards per suit rather than 4 as in traditional Tarot decks. The court cards are referred to as:
The Female Knight
and The Female Page