Trionfi Card Theft in Bologna 1459
composed by Lothar Teikemeier, last update 06.12.2012

Dates of Trionfi card activities

  • 1459-08-08 Bologna - Bindo da Prato accuses barber Fabriano


Source is taken from our earlier collection at

SOURCE 1: Bologna, criminal case in 1459

Quote from the earlier Trionfi notes collection of (2003-07): Document 20 [old counting]. 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 20 [old counting]

The only reference to Trionfi cards between 1452 and 1463 outside of Ferrara.[Editor's note: this is naturally overcome and only an old opinion] The whole case signifies, that the mentioned stolen Trionfi cards are an object of very high worth. A German card maker is involved - other German card producers in Bologna are mentioned in documents from 1427 and 1395, they seem to have played a dominant role in this city. Bologna and Padova had universities, which were prefered by German students and German playing card production technologies were likely superior to the Italian development. A printing card press in Ferrara (1436) with the involvement of the marriage of a German princess to the court of Mantova (Barbara of Brandenburg) followed a visit of Emperor Sigismondo to Ferrara in 1433, likely as part of the story of a German technology export to Italy. So it seems, that the invasion of early German printing technologies took its way via Bologna.

1459 8 August - Bindo da Prato and the stolen trionfi
- the 3 representations refer to the same action.

1. Master John of Rudolf of Germany ("maestro Giovanni di Rodolfo di Alemagna", likely correct interpreted as "Master John, son of Rodolfo of Germany") recognizes the cards stolen in a robbery as his." (Orioli says the title "magister" suggests John is the cardmaker, but admits it is not clear.) [Orioli 1908, 112] (note Ross Caldwell)

2. Bindo da Prato l'8 agosto 1459 denunciò a Bologna un furto compiuto ai suoi danni dal barbiere Floriano. La perquisizione in casa del barbiere portò al rinvenimento anche di unum per cartarum a Trumphis, un mazzo di tarocchi.
Quote from Tarocchino Bolognese

3. Allo stato attualedelle ricerche, la prima notizia certa riguardante la presenza di carte di trionfi a Bologna e del 1459, epoca in cui a Ferrara a Milano queste venivano utilizzate nella loro forma miniata.
Infatti, dalle cronache giudizarie veniamo a conoscenza che un donzello del Podesta di Bologna, certo Floriano di professione barbiere, venne incolpata da Bindo da Prato di furto. Messo alla tortura, l'indiziato confessa la propria colpevolezza e la successiva perquisizioe nella sua aitazione porto allo scoperta, fra le altre cose, di unum par cartarum a triumphis.
Quote from Andrea Vitali: il Tarocchino da Bologna, Bologna 2005, p. 16
(Ross Caldwell translated and commented:
" 'In fact, from the judicial chronicle we know that a page of the Podesta of Bologna, a certain Floriano, by profession a barber, was accused of theft by Bindo da Prato. Put to torture, the indicted confessed his guilt and the subsequent search of his house led to the discovery, among other things, of one pack of triumph cards.'
I should add that Orioli continues this episode with "(one pack of triumph cards), that a certain master Giovanni di Rodolfo di Alemagna declared his and recognized as stolen. This seems to mean that Floriano robbed Bindo da Prato, but that he also stole from others, including John of Rudolf of Germany. John's cards were only discovered because they searched Floriano's house.")

All comments seem to refer to Orioli 1908 : Emilio Orioli, 'Sulle carte da giuoco a Bologna nel secolo XV', Il Libro e la Stampa, anno II (n.s.), 1908, pp. 109-19; see p. 112.

Orioli text, 1908

E la cronache giudizarie di que' tempi continuano a fornirci dati e notizie intorno alle carte da giuoco. Cosi nel giorno 8 agosto 1459 certo Bindo da Prato, denunciando un furto sofferto, dichiaro di sospettarne colpevole un donzello del podesta e certo Floriano barbiere. Avendo pero quest'ultimo negato di avere commesso il furto, sottoposto percio alla tortura, fini per confessarsene autore. Ordinata quindi una perquisione in casa sua, vi furono rinvenuti non solo gli oggetti rubati a Bindo da Prato, ma anche denari et altre cose di provenienzia furtiva e fra queste "unum par cartarum a triumphis", che certo maestro Giovanni di Rodolfo di Alemagna dichiaro suo e riconobbe come rubatogli.(Orioli refers to Vacchettini giudiziari, vol. del. 1459, c. 21 + 22) Si potrebbe forse dedurre che quest'altro tedesco fosse un fabbricante di carte da giuoco per la qualifica di "magister", che si legge a lui data nel verbale della sua deposizione, ma di cio non abbiam sicurezza. Le carte da giuoco si trovano menzionata in un altro verbale di processo a proposito di un pugno sul naso dato da un giuocatore ad un altro "cum luderunt in simul ad ludum cartularum" (Orioli refers to Ivi, Vacchettini cit., vol. del 1473, c. 208).

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

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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)

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