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About us

(by autorbis)

Free from Memory

ca. 1st of May 1989 - 15th of May 1989
The 5x14-theory is born after reading Stuart's Kaplan Tarot-Encyclopedia I within 2 weeks. In my opinion of that time the theory had a chance of 99 % probability to be true.
It followed a longer time to study historical details of the Italian renaissance, which was quite an unknown field before.

October 1989 and later
Contacts to German publishers ended with frustrations. Nobody was interested in the theme. Private contacts to some playing cards experts (Kaplan, Hoffmann) ended without results.

Internet started. Activities in alt.tarot and TarotL. Contacts to Jess Karlin, Bill Heidrick, George Leake, Mary Greer, Bob O'Neill and others. Generally I perceived that I had difficulties to communicate the complexity of my considerations.

March/April 1997
At a private emaillist I suggested the 5x14-theory. Most participants didn't get the level to discuss it really, Bob O'Neill took a longer interest, but rejected it finally. A contact to Michael Dummett ended resultless, he suggested, that I should publish my theory, I felt, that he didn't enter a real discussion of the details in the related matter.

April/May 2002
After a long pause of the theme "Tarot" I took contact to Franco Pratesi, who made me known with his works about the Michelino-deck and his studies in Florence, also with other facts about early playing card research. Franco was very friendly and discussed with me many details of my own theory via email. I realised, that Marcello in his letter didn't show any curiosity about the unusual Michelino-deck with its 16 trump cards and did call it a "ludus triumphorum", a name, which in common playing card research was seen as sign of playing card decks with 4x14+22-structure. In this case the use of the term was different and the observation gave additional strength to the 5x14-theory.

October 2002
I became aware, that in one of Pratesis texts a note about "70 cards" was given with a reference to an article of Gherardo Ortalli. Gherardo Ortalli was later so friendly to make his text available to us.

Begin January 2003
The article to the 5x14-theory (in the meantime only a little changed and updated) was published in the web at , the old address of and now located at . It was made known to the public at 4th of January in the group TarotL. There were some reactions, even some positive one, which was much, considering earlier difficulties to communicate the object. Ross Caldwell, to whom I'd become acquainted short before, replied at the 5th of January: "I had indeed thought along these lines of a 5x14 structured deck - although I hadn't worked out the details like you have. But we can discuss this on TarotL."
From this first step towards cooperation soon a fruitful correspondence resulted, especially as Ross was interested in matters for which I obviously had been too lazy for and tings, for which I had not enogh background to: Running in the libraries, fighting with old and foreign languages.

March 2003
Together with Alain Bougeareal we did build the yahoogroup LTarot. Others came and discussed with us. Ross detected the "14 figure" note in the Francesschini-text.

April 2003
The domain is taken. But the new technique demands some basic understanding of html, so the actual work at it starts at July/August in a very hot summer 2003.

(24th of August, 2003)


The main object at the beginning of was my own theory about a 5x14-Trionfi-deck in the early stage of development of the Tarocchi, later called the Tarot. The theory is presented still in fragmentarious form under the point about the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo deck, 5x14 (above). A lot of other points have gathered in the meantime, more than I've dreamt of in the beginning of the site some monthes ago.

But now a growing group of interested persons has developed and a lot of things are done in community. We profit very much from the work of Ross Gregory Caldwell and his abilities with old languages. Mari Hoshizaki has concentrated on the backgrounds of Ferrara, which is the city with the greatest Trionfi background, as far it is known. Huck Meyer has dedicated to promote the site in the outside, Jane Cocker is specialised on Boiardo. Ray Luberti is our secret help in Italian matters.

Many others have arrived participating in our activities, helping with discussions, opinions and informations. So we build groups to concentrate specific themes and do communicate in exhaustive manner - it's hard to say in the end, who should be honoured for "writing" an article.
At this moment the site is - more or less - still in preparation just to discuss specific contents with friends and others with interests in the early history of Tarot. We're working hard, but probably all will need a little time. So probably you'll find here constantly loose ends, things in development, great plans, which still aren't finished yet. But that's the life in research and we do enjoy it.

It is my hope, that the site will soon develop in further aspects, becoming a most timely center of the research of the object. If you're interested to take part in the discussions please contact me or become a member in our Forum

LTarot at

If you're interested to get a Newsletter from this site - only send, when something really new happened here, please contact
August 2003

PS. Various points are UNDER CONSTRUCTION in the moment, I beg for some patience. is trying to get a new outfit, I hope, soon you'll experience some progress here.

JANUARY 2004 (1/2 year later)

   .... what the cards tell, where they come from ....

Researches about the History and Origin of Tarot Cards
Time of Origin till ca. 1465
by autorbis, Ross Caldwell, Mari Hoshizaki and many others

The site tries to organize the research for the origin and history of Tarot and other playing cards. Already a lot of material is gathered and observed, but realising it in the web is still in the experimental stage. Please excuse, when you occasionally find something, which isn't finished yet ...... the theme Ferrara 1441 is at its beginning and News is not installed yet. The 5x14-theory is important, it is our main thesis, but it is presented only in a single article. The reason for this is, that we first try to control all background, if anything appears, that have been overlooked by us, either adding to our conclusion or negating it. Well, it is a long journey ...
If it's your first visit, you might be surprized, how much material is here. You'll be not ready with one visit :-), if you're really interested you should bookmark the page. Anyway, welcome.

added to above, MARCH 2004 (2 monthes later)

Time has passed. has established, the great phase of “under construction” is more or less gone. But still are holes in our work, free places, things to develop. And this will persist, cause they are so much of them … research is going on and on. Occasionally I’m a little tired.

What did we reach?

We tried to focus the time of origin of the Tarot Game and fixed the date on "till ca. 1460". We’re ready to expand after this point of time and occasionally we do, but actually we would prefer to fix first the very early development.

  • We’ve a Research Center. Here you find a lot of practical links and many open projects, which occasionally are only starts of great ideas and not much more.

  • The Oldest Tarotcards are – as far we know it – in the Michelino deck. The deck hasn’t survived, but the cards are described in a manuscript from Marziano da Tortona, made for the Milanese duke Filippo Maria Visconti. The article describes the source and its specific conditions and also the conclusions about it. It is based upon the articles of Franco Pratesi in 1989, but has included some further developments. It still needs to be a little updated. Our current opinion favours as production time the years 1424/1425. The Oldest Tarot Cards are Greek gods und the number of cards is different to normal Tarot decks. However, they are called a ludus triumphorum in 1449.

  • The chapter Imperatori isn’t totally ready, but most articles have reached a final form. Imperatori cards are a riddle, an unknown state of Playing Card development. A Ferrarese document from 1423 tells of 8 Imperatori cards, which somehow should have been added to the normal deck, as later Trionfi or Tarot cards were added to normal decks. We assume, that the Imperatori cards preceded Trionfi cards, but our documents are not good enough to say final words about it. We assume an influence of chess on the early decks.

  • “Ferrara 1441” concentrates on the Tarot development in Ferrara, which is beside Milano in the study of Tarot cards the hot spot of development, as here a lot of the important documents are located, which have survived from 15th century. For the year 1441 we detected a new document, which possibly relates to the great moment of “invention” of the 5x14-deck, which is another development state of the Tarot cards. In time it is placed short before the date of the first appearance of the word Trionfi in context to playing cards in February 1442. For this research we’ve to go into many details. The research isn’t finished and you find many open points.

  • Documents 1 tries to present all relevant playing card documents of the early time as good as possible. Also there are some conclusive articles, which focus on special aspects of the development. It observes general playing card development, not the development of Tarotcards.

  • Documents 2 presents the appearances of the word Trionfi in context to playing cards in the years 1441 – 1463 inclusive an analysing article.

  • The 5x14-Theory is presented by a single article. Although it might seem, that this is a forgotten point … no, that’s the major point, at least to me, there are also other opinions in our group. All our basic work at the early documents is dedicated to lead to either evidence or contradiction to this theory. Until now a contradiction couldn’t be found. The object of the article is the socalled Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-Tarocchi. The conclusion of the theory is, that this deck originally was a 5x14-deck, before it was updated with 6 further trumps some years later.

  • The Boiardo article has its focus on the poem of Count Matteo Maria Boiardo. At the current moment it is the oldest mentioned deck from which we know with security, that it had a 4x14 + 22 structure. The articles give the poem, some conclusions, a biography of Boiardo and other related topics. The translation has a start, but it is still “in work”.
Further works are a general research about the iconography of Tarot (just a start), a research about the name Trionfi in other contexts, a News-system, links about Tarot as Game, links about Old Tarot Cards in the web, links about Complete Tarot Decks in the web and a complex Museum for Playing Cards with more than 2600 decks, thanks to Alexander Sukhorukov , who made it available. And some other points, ready to be detected by you.

Our group LTarot has expanded, now there are more than 40 people, some calm and listening, others active and cooperating with articles, opinions and informations. Thanks to them all, is done by many energies. And you're invited to participate.


Title August - November 2005


Dear Friends of,

good news and bad news.

Good News: In the last 2 years we've focused to reach results in the research of the "unknown" origin of Tarot. This website was a part of this enterprise. We're now far enough to claim, that we've reached deciding new progress in the answer to the question, where and how Tarot developed.

... deciding new progress ...

Bad News: We've reached our private ends to finance the work on the website and our studies. We speak of a few 10.000's of working hours on the project, which were given by private people to reach something .... a lot of work and some private money. We cannot proceed in this way. Offering new results for free web accesss is a nice thing, and we would wish we could go on with it.

However, we're in existential difficulties. We need some income from the website or from our research ... just to make it possible. So we're in a state of self-defense. Somehow society must pay for this "work on really good web content".

So we've different possibilities.

1. We can transfer the content of the website to a common "advertising" website. Anything on the website would look "bad", likely you know, what I mean. I hate such things.

2. Or we can turn the whole content to "closed content", where only members have access. Also a not very pleasant solution, we think it of worth, that people with not much money have access to good results.

3. We can try to publish our recent "really new results" in a book first, hoping that we get some money with it. Naturally this will lead to the condition, that our new results ... that what I call "deciding new progress ... will appear on the website "later", how much later we cannot say. Well, it's that what we try to realize in the moment ... cause we don't see another good way. It will turn the website to a second hand article ... it's a pity. But somehow we've to help ourselves, if nobody helps us.

4. We find a sponsor for the website. Well, the website exists cause of sponsorship ... we're the sponsors with our 10.000's of working hours. But that's not enough. We need now a sponsor with some money.

... we need money ...

If you're a potential sponsor and considers our enterprise as a good positive action to create a nice web, please consider, if you could do something for us. If you wish to have some small advertising for it on our website, just reminding, that you did something good in this world ... we will agree.

If you think, that producing a book with the newest results might be a good business ... book production takes money first, before it can be successful, and you're interested to participate in this business ... we also would listen to your suggestion. Actually we prefer a sponsor ... but ...

... Contact ...

Riddle and Origin
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