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Suit System:IT
Recommended Name:  the Early Piedmontese Tarot.

This pattern was originally classified as IT-1.2.
There are several difficulties surrounding an exact description of this pattern since in its early days it greatly resembled the Tarot de Marseille (IT-1), and in its later years details of design and styles were introduced which were retained by its successor (IT-1.21).


It probably started its life as a Lyons export pattern as the earliest surviving examples came from that city (Jean Dodal, 1701-1715) and were inscribed "F.P. Le Trange" (made for abroad). At that stage the pack greatly resembled the Tarot de Marseille but for two cards in particular: trump XV, The Devil, bore a face on the central figure's torso (see illustration) and this feature was to remain constant throughout the family, and The Fool was renamed Le Fol in place of Le Mat. Inscriptions were in French and remained so through the century. Around the beginning of the 19th century packs began to appear with Italian inscriptions. Certain other changes occurred in some makers' products but not all. Trump VII, The Chariot, introduced high wheels to the vehicle; on Trump VIII, Justice wore wings or had a back to her throne which resembled wings; on Trump VIIII The Hermit covered his head with his hood; the Jack of Coins' tunic became a buttoned jacket, and the Jacks all lost their captions; the flash of lightning on Trump XVI emerged from a quartered circle in the top corner: all these features were carried over into IT-1.21, but the dividing line lies with the fact that in IT-1.21 the trumps have their numerals (roman) centred in the top panel and Trump XIII almost invariably remains without a caption. Names of trumps which varied (apart from straight translations from French into Italian and allowing for idiosyncratic spelling); Trump I, Il Ciabattino; VII, Carossa. The figure on Trump I carried a wand in one hand. The format is wide and the cards have no turn-over edges.

The pattern was made and used throughout Piedmont from c.1735 (and used earlier with imported cards) until c.1870. It was also made in Nice, with Italian inscriptions in the mid-19th century. Its period of use overlapped both IT-1.21 and even IT-1.211, but it clearly was the earliest of the three in its origins and had features incorporated in both later patterns. Its style of design gradually moved away from the original French and by the end of its life had firmly established its individuality.


As for usual 78 card packs: 4 suits of 14 cards (1-10, Jack, Cavalier, Queen, King) plus 21 numbered trumps and the Fool.

Some Makers

Jean Dodal, Lyons (1701-15);

Dubesset, Lyons (l8th century);

Giuseppe Ottone, Seravalle (1736);

Jean Payen, Avignon (1743);

Giuseppe Lando, Turin (c.1760);

Nicola Novaro, Oneglia (19th century);

also an anonymous pack (c.1760);

Beltramo, Turin (c.1800); all with French inscriptions.

Riva, Vercelli (c.1830);

Beranger, Nice (c.1830);

Solesio, Genoa (c.1870); all with Italian inscriptions.

Early Piedmontese Tarot

Illustration 1 of Early Piedmontese Tarot  (jpg 735 x 847)
Illustration 2 of Early Piedmontese Tarot  (jpg 735 x 847)
Cards made by Riva of Vercelli.

The International Playing-Card Society January, 1981

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