Andrea Banchi, 1456
composed by Lothar Teikemeier, last update 06.12.2012

Date of Trionfi Card Activity

  • 1456-09-29 Import to Rome - 2 paia di carte da guchare.

A roma antonio di piero stabiolo adi 29 settembre [1456]
... portò 2 paia di charte da guchare a leonardo vernacia


Sources are mainly taken from Franco Pratesi's new article series written from November 2011 till now, published here at

SOURCE 1: Silk dealer aquire decks

Quote from Franco Pratesi: "1456 – CURIOUS SHIPMENTS BY ANDREA BANCHI", 03.03.2012

2. Andrea Banchi’s life

«Andrea di Francesco di Banco was born September 20, 1372, and lived to be a nonagenarian, dying on October 12, 1462. Nothing is known about his early years. His father and his uncle Lodovico both died of the plague in 1390. Andrea probably worked from 1390 onward for his only surviving uncle, Michele.» «From 1421 until 1428 Andrea Banchi carried on without a partner. In the shop in Via Por S. Maria he sold silks at retail. Soon he began producing silk fabrics as well.»
«Banchi’s capital investment in his business was higher than that of most silk manufacturers in 1427, yet he was in business alone and did not have to share profits with partners nor pay interest on any deposits, as was the practice in Florence.» «At this time very few setaioli were richer than Banchi, for only three were assessed more than he.»

«In 1428 Banchi decided to expand his business activities. As an independent merchant-entrepreneur, he continued the production and sale of silk cloth. In addition, he formed a partnership with Piero d’Andrea Petrini to carry on a retail shop dealing in silk goods.»
«In 1454 Andrea Banchi formed his last partnership, which was carried on for five years after his death, in 1462, according to a provision in his testament. His partners were two employees whom he had trained and of whose ability he was reasonably certain.»
«Like other merchants of his time, Andrea Banchi acquired farms and other real estate as he prospered.» «By 1457, a few years before his death, Banchi was among the ten highest taxpayers in the entire city and second-highest in the Scala gonfalon.»(3)

3. Banchi’s production and commerce

«Some silks were sold by Banchi to merchants engaged in the import-export business, and the extant records for 1454 and later years show that about a third of the firm’s output was bought by such merchants, partly in exchange for raw silk. Banchi also tried to sell his products abroad by sending them on consignment to commission agents.»
«In any case, measured by medieval standards the Banchi firm was a large enterprise and probably gave employment to about one hundred persons, perhaps even more. In May, 1460, the staff in the shop numbered seven (besides the partners): a bookkeeper, a cashier, a clerk, and four shop boys. Outside the bottega Banchi employed five throwsters, three dyers, three warpers, four maestre and two spinners of inferior silks, about thirty winders and as many weavers, ten weavers of belts and ribbons, one designer of cartoons, and one vestment-maker - nearly one hundred persons.»
«The records show that Banchi specialized in the manufacture of luxury fabrics - brocades, figured velvets, and damasks - and produced relatively few of the less expensive satins and taffetas. This was perhaps a mistake from a pecuniary point of view because such high-priced articles had a small market and were therefore hard to sell. It is not surprising that the turnover of Banchi’s stock was slow, a problem that was often aggravated by the necessity of granting generous credit terms to customers. Andrea Banchi apparently prided himself on producing the high-quality products which had established the reputation of the Florentine silk industry.»(3)

Repeated Note:

When Ross Caldwell and me in 2003 started to collect Trionfi notes between 1442-1463, we had about 27/28 entries (which I nowadays would count as 31). The major part were the documents of Ferrara, which were collected by Gherardo Ortalli and Adriano Franceschini in the "Prince and the Playing Cards" (1996), after the base laying works of Michael Dummett and Stuart Kaplan around 1980. This collection included 2 notes about Trionfi cards in Florence, found by Franco Pratesi in his earlier work (allowances of the Trionfi game in 1450 and 1463). A graphical representation of this time (with 27 entries) shows the dominance of Ferrarese documents (in black) with a few notes only from other locations (in red; see picture to the right)

In the period 2004 till October 2011 it was possible to add 4 further notes (Siena 1452, Padova 1455, Ancona c. 1460 and Valerio Marcello c. 1460), mainly thanks to information given by Thierry Depaulis.

Franco Pratesi started his new article series in November 2011. Since then the list has gotten 67 new documents till September 2012 (65 of them found by Franco Pratesi, one, now the oldest of September 1440, by Thierry Depaulis, and another one by Veber Gulinelli, who controlled the earlier work of Franceschini and found an overlooked document) and nearly all are related to Florence or its surrounding.

A small book (118 pages) was published around Christmas 2012, Franco Pratesi: "Playing Card Trade in 15th Century Florence" as IPCS Paper No. 7 (ISSN 0305-2133). It contains some of the articles, which before had appeared at this website, those, which treat the early time of 15th century. Thierry Depaulis commented in his foreword: "This book is a landmark in the history of early playing cards in Italy".

Well, maybe not the book, but the research is clearly a landmark in various interests. For the collection of early Trionfi notes it somehow means, that we have within the year 2012 about 200 % more data for the period 1440-1462 than mankind had collected in the 200 years before.

Added later:

In August 2013 the new report of Arnold und Doris Esch: "Aus der Frühgeschichte der Spielkarte. Der Import von carte da giocare und trionfi nach Rom." in Gutenberg Jahrbuch 2013, 88. Jahrgang, p. 41-53, arrived in our redaction. It contains 106 new references to Trionfi decks, which all were found in the customs registers of the city Rome for the period 1453-1465. With this the number of all earlier Trionfi cards records has been doubled and should have reached then c. 210 (from which a few are only considered to be "Trionfi card notes" and don't contain the word "Trionfi" or something similar).


I'd started to sort the new Trionfi card documents overview in October 2012. Articles will be possibly changed according improvements in research.

Old Overview about Trionfi Card documents in 2003

Overview about Trionfi Card documents in 2013


Persons in Trionfi Card Documents 1440-1462
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Trionfi Card Persons 1440-1462

Commissioners (Trionfi cards)
Ferrara: Artists and Card Producers (Trionfi cards)

Ferrara: Traders

Florence: Artists and Card Producers (Trionfi cards and mostly also playing cards)

Florence: Artists and Card Producers (normal Playing Cards)

Florence: Trade with Trionfi and Playing Cards

Users of Playing Cards

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