Lapini family, earliest playing card trade (since 1415)
composed by Lothar Teikemeier, last update 06.12.2012

Summary of Activity:

Dates of "Expensive Decks"
/ Lapini Family

All decks by Piero di Antonio Totally 160 Soldi for 8 decks.

Dates of Trionfi decks (1453-55)

Totally 170.5 Soldi for 12 decks.


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

SOURCE 1: Lapini family

Quote from Franco Pratesi: "NAIBI TRADED AT LAPINI STORE, FROM 1415 ON" , 10.04.2012

Naibi sold in 1415-1422

The book in question is the first of the series, and in principle should cover the long time interval from 1415 to 1441. Unfortunately, its second part has been severely damaged and only the lower part of the pages can be read; moreover, the records themselves are there less detailed and complete. The handwriting is less fine than average, everywhere, but in the second half of the book it becomes hard to read. In conclusion, we should be satisfied, at least for the moment, with the few years for which I have been able to get the data of the following Table. As in other notes, the date is expressed as 14yymmdd and the price everywhere in soldi, with an approximation to hundredths of them, which did not correspond to any coin of the time (thus, for ex. s.8,67 should correctly be read as s.8d.8).

DOZ Dozzinali
GRA Grandi
MEZ Mezzani
MZL mezzanelli
PIC Piccoli
VAN Vantag(g)iati

Notes to the Table
1. Cards indicated as made by Antonio.
2. Purchaser: Cristofano d’Agnolo, merciaio in Lucca.
3. Purchaser: Agnolo di Bartolomeo.
4. Purchaser: Andrea di Giovanni, forzerinaio.
5. Purchaser: Leonardo, merciaio.
6. Purchaser: Lorenzo d’Antonio, speziale a La Lastra.
7. Purchaser: Francesco, merciaio.
8. Purchaser: Andrea Stefani, merciaio in Lucca.
9. Purchaser: Tommaso di Francesco, merciaio.
10. Purchaser: Daddo d’Antonio, merciaio.

As mentioned before, the main reason of satisfaction is that these years are so early for playing card production that these new data become particularly interesting. This is evident just at the very beginning: thinking for July 1415 of a single purchase of no less than 240 Naibi packs, to be further sold in Lucca, is probably much more than anybody could have expected. Apparently, a local production was necessary to support a similar trade, and not of the kind of the single cardmaker who little by little produced one pack after another in the course of several months, as we were ready to expect.
I have already discussed the various attributes associated with naibi.(6) Dozzinali, sold by the dozen, is a clear sign of a rather low quality. Here we have both normal packs, needing no attribute, or provided with that of Dozzinali, and Vantaggiati, those of a better quality.
The corresponding costs should indicate if the better quality was on its turn a standard quality at a superior level, or instead the Vantaggiati attribute was used for several nuances of increasingly higher quality. For these cards, the indication is somewhat confounded by the presence of different sizes too, with different prices on their turn. However, the impression deriving from the various prices present here is that several degrees of better qualities were present.
As for makers, we find only one of them mentioned here: the entries with packs made by him are only about one fourth of the total; however, the proportion greatly increases, up to about three fourths, if the number of packs is taken into account. His name, Antonio, is the most frequent among Florentine cardmakers. However, in 1415, several of the cardmakers with the same name, whom we find in records of later times, were too young or even not yet born.
Unexpected is that we do not find this maker associated with the more expensive cards; on the contrary, he seems to have been able to provide this seller with great quantities of standard cards, to be sold at the lowest prices of the market.
No pack of the Vantaggiati quality is indicated with its maker’s name. It is apparent however that these were supplied by at least a second maker, and a confirmation we find below, when dealing with packs acquired.
The purchasers are also interesting. They are always indicated with name and profession, sometimes with their place of activity too. The profession is often the same or similar to that of the suppliers, Merciai, let us use the literally corresponding term of mercers. We could thus be in the presence of a trade from gross-dealer to retailer, but – at least for our Naibi – it seems rather to have been a trade among retailers.
When the place is not indicated, we can assume it to be Florence. La Lastra I prefer to associate to a small village close to Florence in the North direction, rather than Lastra a Signa, farther to the West. Lucca is easy to identify, even if I had no idea of any such predominance for the destination of these sales. Among the purchasers, this big town is even represented by two different mercers.§ In particular, we can verify that these purchases occurred at short intervals of time - this implies that these cards were quickly sold out in Lucca.
Of course, these data are not enough to deduce that in other towns, of dimensions similar to Lucca, some local production of cheap cards had been established already. I would only deduce that any such activity was not yet developed in Lucca, whichever its cause could have been.
The prices that we find recorded are also of great interest, because we (or let me better write I, to be sure) had no idea how expensive Naibi packs could be at the time. Surprisingly enough, what we find here indicates that the production was already established at a level comparable to that of one or two generations afterwards. The Vantaggiati packs apparently corresponded to the Fini packs of later years; this is not surprising – surprising may be that their prices were of the same order. Even more unexpected is that Naibi Dozzinali were already produced at such low prices, as we know for later times, when the total production seems to have greatly increased.
At the time, there was some inflation in the cost of living and the same nominal prices for 1415 and 1450 did not have the same real value. However, the difference can be dealt with as corresponding to a second approximation, and an increased precision in comparing prices can be delayed to a following study.

Naibi acquired in 1415-1418

Information on cards acquired by our mercers is more difficult to detect in the book, because the corresponding trade is of a different kind. Packs are typically sold directly by cardmakers, who used them for "paying” some goods previously acquired in the store. This "payment” occurred, as usual, in successive installments, which could be recorded in the course of several months, as follows.

In the Table, a letter "t" after the soldi amount indicates that this is the total amount in soldi paid for an amount of packs that was not recorded. We are in the presence of two makers, Piero di Antonio (PDA) and Antonio di Francesco (ADF). The latter was likely the same indicated above as the maker of several packs sold in the store. We find only the record of the total price of his cards here, without any indication on unit prices. Piero di Antonio, on the other hand, appears as the supplier of the more expensive packs. Apart from one case of Naibi Mezzani recorded at 16s., all his packs were either Dozzinali, priced however as high as 8s., or Vantaggiati at 20. Apparently, he was not yet involved in any mass production, and the slow rate of his supplies may be a confirmation.
In other words, the two makers here encountered can be assumed as representative of two different ways of production: many packs of inferior quality or few high-class packs. Unfortunately, we do not have further data up to now, coming from any other cardmaker, already active in the town. We can however imagine that any additional maker, if already existing, could have employed one of the two mentioned kinds of production.

Naibi traded in 1453-1455

In the second book examined, we find a different and more familiar situation, corresponding to the middle of the 15th century. This is easier to compare with other account books already studied. However, there is something unusual in this book, which is thicker than similar ones, with more than three hundred leaves. It seems that the trade changed in the time of these records, with increasingly more entries concerning production rather than small trades of the shop. I have collected in the following Table all the packs that I could see in the book; namely, in its initial part.

* price for single packs, deduced from the total price and/or indicated as agreed upon.
CAR Carte
DOP Doppi
GRA Grandi
MEZ Mezzani
PCI Piccini probably the same as Piccoli
TRI Trionfi
VAN Vantag(g)iati

Notes to the Table
1. Maker: Antonio di Dino.
2. Attribute added: begli, or fine.
3. Supplier: de la Lisa(?).
4. Purchaser: Agnolo d’Antonio, active in San Gimignano.
5. Supplier: Pagholo Corsellini, merciaio.
6. Attribute added: I could not read it.

We can observe that low-quality packs still exist, but have rather become an exception among packs recorded here; only one dozen packs priced less than 2s. are present in the entries that I have seen in this store. Also at the other extreme we find a reduction of entries: the most expensive packs are a Naibi Doppi at 16s. and a Trionfi Grandi at 16s.6d. Other Naibi packs have prices in the middle range.
Interesting is also a case in which we see three Naibi packs acquired and sold on the same day, 27 December 1453: this immediately provides us with the information of the small mark-up adopted in this trade, less than 10%.
The appearance of Trionfi is remarkable; as it was easy to expect, they are priced higher than corresponding Naibi. However, we may note further details: apparently a price of 14s. had already become a standard price for them. These Trionfi seem generally to correspond to the Mezzani size, even though this is explicitly stated in just one occurrence; in the only one case in which we find the Grandi size indicated, the corresponding price only increases from 14s. to 16s.6d., still below that of several packs of Naibi Vantaggiati.

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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