Michael Dummett to the Rothschild Cards
Michael Dummett criticises Stuart Kaplan's representation of the Rothschild cards in the Tarot Encyclopedia.
One might wonder, how the measurements by different hands reach discrepancies of 1/2 cm (190x90 against 185x90 mm),
but I simply became a little confused reading that.
Michael Dummett speaks in "Game of Tarot" not of 8 cards in the Rothschild collection as Kaplan, but of 31:
"The most complete set other than the three by Bembo is one in the Rothschild collection in the Louvre, consisting of thirty-one cards. It is
generally accepted that a single card, a Cavalier of Swords in the Museo Civico at Bassano,
bringing the total to thirty-two. Despite a slight divergence in the measurements cited
for this card (190 x 90 mmm as against 188 x 90 mm for the Rothschild ones), this identification
can scarcely be doubted: not only the general style, but the border design, the overrunning
of the border and the arches in the top corners all resemble the Rothschild cards, while the
trappings of the horse tally exactly with those of the Rothschild Cavalier de Batons, and the
curious tortoise shield with those on the Rothschild King and Queen of Batons. In this set, however,
only one triumph card survives, the Emperor; the rest are suit cards." (Dummett notes at
this place: "In his Encyclopedia of Tarot, New York, 1978, Stuart Kaplan suggests that another card,
shown by him at the top right of p. 121, is also a triumph, the Pope, the Hermit or the World;
it is, however, surely the Jack of Coins, though admittedly a bearded Jack is a curiosity.
Some writers have questioned wether the 23 numeral cards, whose measurements Detlev Hoffmann gives
as 186 x 93 mm, belong with the other 8 Rothschild cards, which measure 185 x 90 mm, according
to Hoffmann, and it is true, that their borders do not have the wavy lines found on the court cards
and the Emperor. The measurement criterion would be conclusive, save the discrepancies between the
measurements made by different individuals are exceedingly common.) The general treatment, though
not the individual style is highly similar to the Charles VI. cards, and the two packs are
probably to be assigned to the same milieu. The Swords on the numeral cards are curved."
We've various documents (Ferrara 1422, Ferrara 1441, the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-deck), which indicate, that occasionally a deck was updated.
Couldn't it be, that the updating producer simply took a slightly different measurement
than the already existant decks? Or, that for instance the single Cavalier of Swords
simply belonged to another deck from the same producer, which occasionally did a different cut
with the deck (as it happens often in printing processes)? The differences in the measures and also the condition, that they went different
ways before they reached us, simply signals, that they are from different decks, and the shown
similarites signal: they are different decks,
but they had similar production conditions.
The picture to the right presents the Jack of Coins (according to Dummett), but perhaps Pope or Hermit or World
(according to Kaplan).
Below is the Cavalier of Swords (Museo Civico at Bassamo), which is mentioned by Dummett above
in comparition to the Queen of Batons (Dummett argues with similarities about the tortoise
shield and his argument is - as one can observe - valid).
|Cavalier of Swords
||Queen of Batons