Benedetto di Antonio Spigliati, helper of Filippo di Marco
composed by Lothar Teikemeier, last update 15.10.2012

Recorded in a trial between card makers: 1463-02-28

Dates of Trionfi card activities
all related to Bartolomei Seragli

  • 1463-0-01 Florence - trial between card makers


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

SOURCE 1: Benedetto di Antonio Spigliati in trial between cardmakers 1463

Quote from Franco Pratesi: "CARDMAKERS AND WOODBLOCKS ON TRIAL", 21.01.2012

Filippo – Benedetto suit

In his Anhang on Filippo di Marco, p. 552, Jacobsen reports a verdict (which had been found in notary archives of the time and communicated to him by Doris Carl) concluding a suit that Filippo had with Benedetto di Antonio Spigliati.(3) The date is stated as 28 febbraio 1462, but must be read as 1463, owing to the Florentine use of beginning the New Year "ab Incarnatione", on 25 March.
Benedetto had been a coworker of Filippo and their association had functioned for some time. At a given point their agreement breaks down and they come in front of the court. Benedetto requires some money that Filippo owes to him; Filippo demands that no less than seven woodblocks used in card making be given back to him, their owner.
The corresponding judgment is not as simple as we could expect. The judge, Angelo Del Pace, examines the account books of the company and concludes that indeed Benedetto has to receive 15 gold florins from Filippo, who is given one year time for settling this account. «Condempnamus dictum Pippum ad dandum et solvendum dicto Benedicto hinc ad unum annum proxime futurum dictam quan­titatem florenorum XV auri.»
As soon as the amount is given, Benedetto must return the seven woodblocks to Filippo. «Item reperto quod dictus Bene­dictus habet penes se settem tabulas actas ad formandum cartas pro ludendo, vulgariter dicendo naibi, declararnus dictas settem tabulas pertinere et esse dicti Pippi, ... condempnamus dictum Benedictum ad dandum et restituendum…»
If the full year passes without payment, then the seven woodblocks remain as a property of Benedetto. «Et in casu quo dictus Pippus non solveret infra dictum tempus dicto Benedicto dictos florenos XV auri, in dicto casu elapso dicto tempore, ex nunc dictas settem tabulas adiudicamus dicto Benedicto pro dictis florenis XV auri.» (This part of the verdict has been inserted as a marginal note in the page.)
Up to here, everything is clear enough. There are however some complications now. The first is that in the course of this whole year Benedetto must allow that Filippo enters his house and uses the seven woodblocks for his work, whenever he so wishes. «Durante dicto anno dicte tabule sint penes dictum Benedictum et quod dictus Pippus durante dicto anno possit ire in domum dicti Benedicti ubi dictus Benedictus haberet dictas tabulas ad formandurn cartas prout sibi placuerit, et quod dictus Benedictus non possit denegare dicto Pippo quod non formet dictas tabulas prout sibi placuerit.» (These meetings we can easily imagine as embarrassing enough.)
The second complication is that even if payment has occurred and soon after the woodblocks returned to their owner, the matter is not concluded: Filippo has to provide Benedetto with four woodblocks designed by himself, within eight further months. «Et ultra predicta, in casu quo dictus Filippus rehaberet dictas tabulas et postquam sibi tradite fuerint, condempnamus dictum Filippum ad designandum quatuor tabulas pro formando naibi et dare dicto Benedicto infra otto menses postquam rehabuerit dictas tabulas, videlicet otto menses postquam rehabuerit dictas tabulas.»
This is a rather strange, hardly Solomonic, decision. If the seven woodblocks could balance the fifteen florins in case the money was not given, I don’t understand why the same woodblocks are worth a lot more than the 15 florins if they are given: the final judgment sounds as if Filippo had to confer to Benedetto the 15 florins AND the four woodblocks (which I hardly can imagine that he could set up with special care).
We can stop here with the discussion on the judgment; after all, comments on the various verdicts have always been a recurrent topic for discussion, in every epoch. Let us instead use this debate for extracting a few indications of our specific interest.

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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