Bandini is a rather common family name in Florence. In the phone directory for 2011/12 we can count no less than ninety entries at this name. If we go back in time for sixty years, one of my dozen friends of the school-days had this family name. We have however to go farther, towards even earlier times. Searching in “Dizionario biografico degli Italiani”, we still find a score of personages belonging to this family.(6)
In these cases, better than with a single family, it would be more correct to deal with its several branches. In particular, considering the popularity of this family name, it is easy to expect that they had many branches and that it would become a difficult task to track, for each of them, its expansion and, in case, its extinction. In our specific case, it is rather the extinction of a family branch that is involved, because this is the most frequent instance for churches, convents, or hospitals receiving the inheritance of heirless families.
It may be worthwhile to directly jump to the renowned Catasto 1427, the first complete list of the Florentine families, with records of their possessions, and so on. There we find two Bandini families. The first, with no less than 14 members (or “bocche” as they were mentioned in these documents), was headed by Francesco di Romolo, dealer in cloth. The second family, with a more “modern” four members, was headed by Giovanni di Lorenzo, a young notary.(7)
1.5 One Author – Ser Giovanni Bandini
The person of our interest is precisely Ser Giovanni Bandini di Ser Lorenzo di Ser Agnolo. The profession of notary had seemingly an almost hereditary character in this family: as a matter of fact, both Giovanni’s father and grandfather were named with the typical Ser label.
We are lucky enough to have met him already in Catasto 1427. The family lived in Quartiere Santa Maria Novella, Gonfalone Leone Bianco. By then, it was a very young family, formed by Giovanni 23 years old, wife Pantassalea 18, brother Luigi 5, son Lorenzo 1. This situation however corresponds to twenty-four years before the event of interest here; I had to follow him in the next editions of Catasto and search for other documents.
Fortunately, I discovered in time that this project had already been completed recently. A lot of information on this notary has actually been obtained thanks to... Boccaccio’s Decameron: Marco Cursi has studied in detail the extant manuscripts of this masterpiece, beginning with his doctoral dissertation, and has then written a whole book on them.(8)(8) More recently, the same author has succeeded in retrieving the name of the copyist of a manuscript kept in Paris,(9) nobody less than our Giovanni Bandini.
The situation thus reached has some ground-breaking character: on most of these manuscripts the name of the copyist can be found directly written in the book, and then no further information can be discovered on these persons; here, on the contrary, we do not find the name of the copyist (only first derived by Cursi from other copies signed by him), but then much information could be added on his life.(9)
The main source for the life of Ser Giovanni has been another book arrived in the ASF from Santa Maria Novella.(10) It is not included together with the three books of the inheritance, and I have only leafed through it when I had already read the main information in Cursi’s article.
Something for later times, after Giovanni’s death, can be deduced from another book of the inheritance.(11) It was compiled later on by Agnolo, son of Giovanni (and he too a notary by profession), who mentions both his mother Pantassalea and his brother Marco.
Anybody wishing to know more about Ser Giovanni, should just study the article mentioned, in which detailed information can be found. (9) As for his family, I had written that it appeared as a “modern” one, but matters went differently: the parents had no less than nine children, six of whom died however very young, from a couple of hours to a couple of years old, or only slightly more.
Two books of deeds written by Ser Giovanni are kept in ASF.(12) I have leafed through the second of them and verified that the number of deeds greatly decreased after 1440. We know the reason, described and discussed in some detail in Cursi’s article. In that year the career and the life itself of Ser Giovanni changed abruptly: he became infirm and deformed and had no relief from any therapy in the following years.
As a consequence his limited possessions rapidly dissolved and he had to change to a great extent his profession, after he had to give up his public offices. His following workplaces as a notary for private deeds - indicated in the course of time at Montughi, Campi, La Lastra, Badia fiesolana, Montelupo, Calenzano – were only suitable for a lesser activity. Together with, or instead of, his travelling around for his job, he had to combine with it that of a copyist of manuscripts, working at home and hardly making a living for his family.
In addition to the frequent deaths of his children, and his poor health conditions, Ser Giovanni met remarkable troubles to marry off Tancia (his only daughter, born in 1428, absent in both Catasto editions quoted here), and Agnolo as well. It would be of some interest to report the details, be it for nothing else than to allow a comparison with the court marriages reportedly connected with the most famous Trionfi. This I am handing down to people more inclined to expand real facts into stories and novels, and am referring again to Cursi’s article.(9)
I have looked for the composition of the family in Catasto 1451, the year of our interest: it was formed at the time by Giovanni 47, Pantassalea 42, Agnolo 20, Marco 7, Ridolfo 3.(13) As in some previous cases, Giovanni asks to be recognised as too indigent to be taxed and adds some comment on his present poor state, due to his infirmity, commenced a dozen years before.
In conclusion, Ser Giovanni Bandini was not a particularly remarkable personage. As a person involved with public charges or affairs, it is easier to find some information about his father or his son Agnolo. On the other hand, he cannot of course be considered as an illiterate labourer. We can distinguish and conclude that in comparison with an average social state, his education was higher and his prosperity lower.
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.
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.