The International Playing-Card Society

IPCS Home Page | IPCS Publications Page | Index of Pattern Sheets on the web


Suit System:I
Recommended Name:  the Trento or Trentine pattern.


By the nature of its appearance this pattern might seem to be the most ancient of the surviving north-eastern Italian-suited patterns and even today the designs indicate origins of some considerable antiquity. If there is, as has been suggested, a link between the more northerly Trappola cards and those of north-east Italy, this pattern must lay some claim towards responsibility. The winged creature on the Ace of Cups, be it Cupid or an eagle; the flowers in the pips of the 2 of Cups; the crown surrounding the Sword on the Ace; the 'S' surrounding the 2 of Coins (also found in Tarot packs); all can be found not only on the earliest known Trappola packs but also on the 17th-18th century examples from Austria and Germany.

Possibly variations on the original Trentine pattern are the modern patterns labelled by makers as Bresciane and Bergamasche. These may have developed along their own, minutely different, routes due to political affiliations. Such affiliations must, indeed, be taken into consideration when attempting to unravel the history of the pack.

From 1027 until 1919 Trento was under Germanic or Austrian influence, the territory becoming simply part of the Tirol in 1803. This engenders something of mystery as to why its populace adopted Italian suit-marks on its cards. Although still largely German-speaking, with many inhabitants wishing the area to revert to being the South Tirol, close ties with Venice seem from time to time have emerged and in nearby Rovereto (also in South Tirol) a Trentino pack was made in c.1830 with Venetian mottoes on the Trentine Aces: at that time Venice was also part of the Austria-Hungary Empire. It seems quite possible that the earliest Trappola cards, the game being known in Venice in the 16th century, slipped into the Empire and travelled on to points north via Trento.

The Bodleian Library in Oxford might lay claim to possessing, in the Douce Collection, the earliest known example of the Trentine pattern, in the form of a few cards, inscribed 'IESI' on the backs, belonging they claim to the 16th century although this dating may be somewhat on the early side. Several examples are known from the 18th and 19th centuries, with characteristic Baton pips depicted as straight, plain, sticks with a knob at each end. Since World War II there has been a tendency to change this form to flat, lined stems with enlarged knobs. The flowers have also disappeared from the Cups. This is presumably an economy on the part of the maker who could now use the same outlines on a number of hitherto different patterns originating in the area.


52 cards: 4 suits of 13 cards, comprising King, Cavalier, Jack (Re, Cavallo, Fante) 10-Ace.

40 cards: 4 suits of 10 cards, comprising King, Cavalier, Jack, 7-Ace.

36 cards: 4 suits of 9 cards, comprising King, Cavalier, Jack, 6-Ace.

Some makers

All employ single-figure images.

'IESI', 16th or 17th centuries.

'Al Mondo',Milan or Bologna, 18th century.

Regia Fabbrica di Milano, (Gumppenberg), Milan c.1810.

Fa. Bendelli, Trento, first half 19th century.

L.V. Zeni, Trento, mid-19th century.

Franz Krapf, Bolzano, mid-19th century.

Giuseppe Filippi, Rovereto, c.1830 (with Venetian mottoes).

Karl Albrecht, Bolzano, 2nd half 19th century.

G. Bertoldi, Trento, 2nd half 19th century.

F. Piatnik e Figli, Vienna c.1910.

Teodomiro Dal Negro, Treviso (1928-).

Edo. Pignalosa, Naples, mid-20th century.

Sources of Information

ALL CARDS ON THE TABLE by Sylvia Mann, Leinfelden-Echterdingen and Marburg, 1990.


THE CARY COLLECTION OF PLAYING CARDS by William B. Keller, Yale, 1981.

PLAYING CARDS AND THEIR STORY by George Beal, Newton Abbot, London, and Vancouver, 1975.

DE GESCHIEDENIS VAN DE SPEELKAART by Han Janssen, Rijswijk, 1975.

The Trento or Trentine Pattern

Illustration of Trento or Trentine pattern  (jpg 1004 x 1166)

The International Playing-Card Society 3/1992

For comments please contact the Pattern Sheet Editor: Kay Stolzenburg (

IPCS Home Page | IPCS Publications Page | Index of Pattern Sheets on the web

This page is maintained by John McLeod ( and Kay Stolzenburg (
Last updated 13th September 2010