Cambini family, 96 Trionfi decks for Venice / Girolamo Corboli
composed by Lothar Teikemeier, last update 06.12.2012

Date of Trionfi Card Activity

  • 1462-02-19 Florence - Import to Venice - 96 Trionfi decks and 60 "paia di carte"

Richordo chome insino adi 19 di febraio 1461 [this date refers to February 1462 in our modern counting] che noi ricevemo nel maghazino da Tomaso di Santi sceglitore? di lana queste chose che apresso esprimo?

5 dozine di paia di charte
8 dozine di trionfi
A? di detto si messono le sopra dette chose in una chassa e mandamola a Vinegia a Girolamo Chorboli.


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

SOURCE 1: Cambini family

Quote from Franco Pratesi: "1462 – CARDS AND TRIUMPHS IN A CAMBINI SHIPMENT TO VENICE, 15.08.2012"


Cambini were however among the most efficient exporters to Rome, as indicated by Esch,(3) and their sale of Trionfi made by Filippo di Marco had already been communicated.(6) These should have been hay-stacks full of needles, comparable or even better than the books of Lorenzo di Bartolo and Matteo di Zanobi.(10) I have thus been much disappointed not to find a lot of "our" records in these promising Cambini books.
Up to now, I only found one useful entry, in one account book. The book is described as follows in the AOIF catalogue: «Ricordançe M» 09/12/1461 - 24/12/1462 "Relativo a merci acquistate e vendute su varie piazze nazionali ed europee e a memorie di promesse e contratti attinenti, di Francesco e Carlo di Niccolò Cambini".»(11)


3. Discussion and comments

On the packs made by Filippo di Marco and sold by Cambini(6) I wrote the following comment: «These were items commissioned for export, together with several other costly art objects. Incomparably much more, and cheaper, card packs were by then produced for local purchase and use by common people, triumphs included.»(7) Here we apparently have some specimens of the latter category: even if no price is indicated, it is clear enough from the contents of the shipment that these were ordinary packs of cards and Trionfi.
The destination of Venice has a certain interest, because we have little information on the local trade of playing cards at the time, even though Venetian cardmakers apparently were well-organised and ready to protect their products from foreign imports. (The importance of the Venetian production will become better known, and more evident, in the following century.)
It is not clear for us, on the other hand, which was the particular utilisation of these items by Corboli. In particular, the quantity is somewhat intermediary, too small for a big trade, but at the same time by far too great for a personal use.
It could thus be useful to know something more about the receiver of these cards. Actually, we are fortunate enough to find him mentioned many times in Tognetti’s book.(1) He appears to have been a merchant out of the ordinary; to begin with, he was a Florentine who did not belong to a family of merchants, as was the rule in similar cases. Coming from a rather low status, he had been selected nevertheless as the main Cambini agent in Venice, for all kinds of trade, including great financial operations.
Let me copy a relevant paragraph from Tognetti’s book.

«Dalla Serenissima verso Firenze affluivano grana greca e cotone siriano, allume e tele, ma anche schiave tartare, piombo, vetrerie, argento silimato, cuoiame tedesco, rasce. Nel complesso tuttavia i quantitativi erano modesti; praticamente nulli quelli esportati dalla Toscana verso la capitale veneta, la quale era ancora, per gli uomini d’affari fiorentini, un polo essenzialmente finanziario. Per i Cambini, anche negli anni sessanta, dirigeva un notevole traffico di lettere di cambio Girolamo di Francesco Corboli, a cui era intestato non solo un normale conto corrente, ma anche una serie di ‘conti a parte’ su cui transitavano rilevanti somme, oggetto di particolari operazioni finanziarie; decine di migliaia di fiorini venivano annualmente addebitate e accreditate sui suoi conti con il banco ed é molto probabile che il Corboli fosse in rapporti d’affari anche con altre ditte fiorentine.»(1)


It is certain that also rich bankers and merchants, as the Cambini really were, were involved in the trade of playing cards; this fact may be useful for obtaining, in particular, new data on the early spread of Trionfi. The account books of these merchants have been kept, at least in part; however, finding playing cards recorded there is not a frequent occurrence. In this case, I could only add to the few data already known the shipment of a box containing various goods to Venice in 1462, with – of our specific interest - sixty packs of playing cads and ninety-six of Trionfi.

SOURCE 2: Girolamo Corboli, sponsor of Andrea da Castagno

Quote from John R. Spencer: "Andrea Del Castagno: And His Patrons", 15.08.2012"

Girolamo Corboli

(noted in Franco Pratesi: "1462 – CARDS AND TRIUMPHS IN A CAMBINI SHIPMENT TO VENICE", 15.08.2012 as the merchant, who got in Venice 96 Trionfi decks and other items from the Cambini family in Florence in the year 1462)

Girolamo Corboli appears 25x in the quoted text, mainly as a sponsor and commissioner of art products of Andrea da Castagno (who had possibly some influence on the Trionfi card development). Corbuli patronized a chapel since 1451, in which Castagno realized a fresco "Vision of the Trinity by St Jerome".

Other notes to Corboli

Richard A. Goldthwaite: "The Economy of Renaissance Florence", 2011

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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