"Anselino" (Anselmo) Salimbeni (in Ferrara), takes some woodcut blocks for Trumps
composed by Lothar Teikemeier, last update 06.12.2012

Recorded Trionfi activity in Ferrara: 1459-06-04

Dates of Trionfi card activities

  • 1459-06-04 Ferrara - Anselino takes some woodcut blocks for trumps


Sources for Trionfi cards in Ferrara are mainly taken from our earlier collection at Trionfi.com based mainly on the work of Gherardo Ortalli and Adriano Franceschini, expressed in the article of Ortalli "The Prince and the Playing Cards" (1996).

SOURCE 1: Anselino Salimbeni - document of 1459

Quote from the earlier Trionfi notes collection of Trionfi.com (2003-07): Document 19 [old counting] / Petrecino 1457. Naturally these older texts present not in all points my opinion of nowadays.
The new text here might contain some corrections against the earlier versions.

Document 19 [old counting]

This note of Ortalli refers to the (probable) possibility, that the workshop of Don Messore in 1454 worked with preprinted Trionfi playing-cards.

1459 [4 June – extract from Ortalli 1996b]

"Further proof of the Este interest in mechanical card production comes […] from a note of 4 June 1459 concerning objects lent to a certain Anselino di Salimbeni by the prince; among them was a box containing "stampe for trump cards"[see note 90]. I would say that those stampe were printing blocks and the fact that Duke Borso actually owned them is highly significant. They may well have been the blocks for a whole pack bought in January 1454, recorded in the book Conti di Borso: "uno paro de forme de carte, the printing blocks for a pack of cards purchased from Piero Andrea da le Fenestre" for 20 ducats [see note 91]."

(Note 90): ASMO, Guardaroba, 7, Ricordo, 1442-1465, fol. 34. I am again indebted to Adriano Franceschini for this information. (Note 91): Franceschini 1993, p. 415, n. 731a.

Ortalli relates these informations to another entry in 1494:

"The end of this phase would seem to be refleced in the Este Guardarobe inventory of 1494. In the list of boxes, safes, caskets, wooden works and cupboards, we find an entry for 'a small box containing printing blocks for playing cards'. I would surmise that these were the same blocks purchased by Borso in 1454, by now classed with old things that had seen better days. For its requirements the court no longer resorted to painters, but neither did it keep a close check on the work of printers. Tellingly, the box containing woodcuts was classed in the inventory along with old white and coloured ostrich feathers which were 'dyed with several colours, moth eaten and broken'. But there was perhaps an even more significant object alongside the moth-eaten ostrich feathers and old woodcut - 'a box with various kinds of old playing cards in a bad state'. In short, a box containing a hotchpotch of old worn cards no one could bring themselves to throw out: 'Una capseta cum carte da zugare de piu rasone vechie et male conditionate'. (Campori 1870, pp. 33-34)"

[Ortalli 1996b:194]

The year 1459 is dominated by the Congress of Mantua, which did lead to much direct communication between the leading families of Italy. The 15-years-old Galeazzo Maria visited Florence during the stay of Pope Pius II (April/May), who was at his journey to Mantova, and was honoured with careful respect as the representative of Milan. There are a lot of festivities in that time and one of them is shown at the famous paintings in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence, by Benozzo Gozzoli, 1459-61. Most art historians believe this is the 15-year old Galeazzo Maria. Lorenzo de Medici is in this year 10 years old.
Beside the Congress of Mantua in Florence the Platonic Academy is refounded by Marsilio Ficino, a regularely meeting of intellectuals, poets, artists and philosophers, under them also people of much political influence (1463 established at the villa Careggi). This talking group became the heart of art revolution in Florence.
Young Galeazzo

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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