Ser Andrea di Giovanni Bertelli in Prato (active 1429 - 1430)
composed by Lothar Teikemeier, last update 06.12.2012

Dates of Playing Card Activities


Source is taken from Franco Pratesi's new article series written from November 2011 till now, published here at

SOURCE 1: Ser Andrea di Giovanni Bertelli in Prato

Quote from Franco Pratesi: "1430 - NAIBI TRADED IN PRATO BY A NOTARY" , 06.04.2012

Ser Andrea di Giovanni Bertelli

I had never found among mercers or similar retailers a famous personage as Ser Andrea Bertelli was at the time. First of all, he could avail himself of the Ser designation, typical of the notaries. We can find information more than enough about him as a notary and a public man. To begin with, he is present in historical works on Prato citizens,(4) and in a dissertation on the notaries of the town.(5)
Unfortunately, we know much less him as a retailer, even if his activity in various enterprises is known. In the same ASPo we can find books (in about 1430 and 1440) in which he is camarlingo notaio of the Ospedale Misericordia; in other books he holds, with various colleagues, the concession by Comune di Prato of Gabella, either of bestie, animals (1428), or of "grano e biada", wheat and crops (1432), or of wine (1440).
His many official public charges are listed for instance in the dissertation on Prato notaries, (5) including several leading roles he had in the town government. In conclusion, his activity of retailer that is the reason why we meet him here may be considered just as a minor one among his many offices and professions.

The shop

Whenever I enter one of these shops of the time, I feel a big difficulty in finding the right name for it. Of course, to a great extent this is due to the fact that English is not my mother tongue and moreover I did not have the opportunity to get familiar enough with the corresponding shops in Great Britain. Frankly speaking, however, I have to add that even in my mother tongue I have some difficulty in finding the correct name for them.
Let us thus make use of a direct information, what Ser Andrea inserted in the Catasto books of 1451.(6) "Una botegha (per la vendita?) di biada e di pizzichagnolj. In tutto dà detto traffico fiorini cinquanta." Here we mainly have a pizzicagnolo, maybe a grocer. It seems that the shop in question was that of his father-in-law: ser Andrea became his partner in the trade and then continued this activity, together with his wife Antonia.
In this shop, people acquired first of all foodstuffs of many kinds. We read of wheat meal, barley, broad beans, and as expected olive oil and wine, but always in small quantities.
Together we find however many small items and household goods, such as candles and pins. Playing cards themselves, which might appear out of place here, are not alone in the family of games and toys: balls of various kinds, spinning-tops, dice and board games were also on sale.

The account books

No less than seven account books are kept for the shop under examination.(7) The two most important for us are those numbered as 7007 and 7008. They are very similar and seem to have been compiled one after another, mainly for 1429 the former (10 July-8 December), and 1430 the latter (11 May-24 October).
The various entries are recorded daily (even on Sundays!) with such a detail that I had never seen before, down to recording a couple of eggs or an iron wire. Indeed, this corresponds to the titles of the books, especially the former ("Quaderno di entrate di denari minuti", register of little money incomes.) The latter book is titled differently "Giornale di botega, ciò che venderemo biade e altre chose", but its format is exactly the same.
A third book has been helpful, numbered 7006 and titled Conpere, purchases.
Unfortunately, the writing is not easy to read, and - what has confused me the most - sometimes I have not been able even to distinguish with certainty number 1 from number 2, which may be relevant below either for the number of card packs, or especially for their prices. Even though our information on this trade is small, it deals both with purchases and sales.

Purchases of naibi

I could only find two records of purchases, in book 7006, as summarised in the following Table.

In the course of about two years, we thus have two purchases, which however corresponded to two subsequent months. My impression is that other purchases had been done, and I did not find their records.
We have two purchases of packs of various kinds. The price of 2,30s. is a nominal average price of 5 packs, 2 without any specification and 3 indicated as piccoli, for a total price of 11s.6d.
In the second purchase, no justification is indicated for the higher cost of the 3 packs, possibly grandi or fini.
What is not reported in the table, but may be of some interest, is the indication of the suppliers: they are indicated as two different mercers, both however active in Florence. It was thus from Florence that came the packs to be sold in Prato shop. This provenance is not surprising, due to the extraordinary Florentine activity in every section of handcrafting and painting. (However, we have to remind that, in principle, card playing was forbidden in Florence at the time.)

Sales of naibi

More frequent are the records of packs sold, as summarised in the following table. If I have read the number of the packs correctly, they were sold one at a time, with one exception in which two packs were sold together. This is in agreement with the typical trade of this shop, with retail sales reduced to very small limits for any goods sold. Sometimes naibi are recorded as carte: I have indicated these cases in the table, but I suppose that the two names were here interchanged without any real difference existing in the product. Also for "naibi picholini" and "carte picholine", I think they are both the same as the "naibi piccoli" of other trades.

We find 21 packs sold on the whole; only two for 1429, with most of the remaining ones sold in only two months of 1430. These can be compared with the 26 packs that we find as acquired, in two trades only.
I suppose that further trades were made that I have not found. Even if we can imagine that the actual number of packs traded was somewhat higher than reported here, this clearly remains a retail trade, with very small amounts involved.

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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