Some results of a long study on card production in Tuscany have recently been published in this series of notes.(1) Apart from a couple of isolated registers, all this information had been obtained from two coherent series of the same archival section.(2) Both series consist of hardbound books with similar or identical dimensions and covers. All of them have been pre-set so that vertical lines are preliminary drawn for easily inserting columns corresponding to various kinds of playing cards, and their taxes.
The inner pages of these registers have been cut at the top by about 5 cm, so that the heading written in the inside cover can be used for any page. Depending on the contents, we may have identical columns on the left and right pages, or we may find the papers sheets received on the left page and the packs stamped on the right. The more useful of the two series has been one, in which the packs are recorded in separate sections for the various cardmakers.
Obviously, whenever the totals are reported at the end of months or years, the results should be exactly the same. Regrettably, this is not always verified: several mistakes are present in the registers, and more can be expected in my copies from them. It is very difficult now to amend these mistakes, and usually there is no way to choose the correct number between two or three incompatible values that may be found.
Recently, I could examine in the ASF further ten registers of Ufficio del Bollo,(3) with identification numbers in-between the two series mentioned, thus obtaining some additional information. All ten registers will be described one after the other in the following, with some discussion and comments on their contents.
In the tables below, the number of cards in a given pack is used for denoting the various kinds of playing cards produced, together with the letters P for Piccole or small, G for Grandi or large, M for Minchiate.
1. Register No. 149
Here we have the initial records of the administration, starting with May 1814, when the old system was resumed after the few years of the French government and the Etruria Kingdom. This register, “Registro Attinente all’Amministrazione dei Fabbricanti di carte da Giuoco”, seems to belong to one of the series examined in the previous note, or is in any case similar, even if it appears to have been less carefully preserved.
The yearly production of Minchiate by the cardmakers authorised is reported in the table below.
* Only since May 1814.
** These numbers correspond to packs made up to September included.
AGO = Agostini, BAR = Baragioli, BER = Berrettari, CAP = Capigatti, DEP = Del Pieve, FAL = Falugi, LIV = Maury at Leghorn, MAU = Maury, PIS = Pistoj, ZAN = Zanobetti.
One has to note that the whole system was initially rather fouled up, with makers either ending or just beginning their production. The last column is for Maury at Leghorn, where he moved his factory in 1818. The monthly productions of Minchiate, corresponding to the years indicated, are copied apart.
In the monthly reviews of the registers, the contribution of the individual makers is absent for the last three months of 1816, and for the whole 1817; it should be possible to reconstruct it on the basis of other registers of these years – however, it often happens that more or less small differences are found in different registers for the same times.
It must be noted that part of this information was already present in the tables of the previous note. However, the initial years of this register were only partly present or were absent in the series of registers studied earlier on - we thus have here some useful supplement to the information already gathered. Supplementary records for other card kinds will be found in the last registers examined here.
2. Register No. 150
This is a register a bit smaller than the other ones, and moreover most of its pages have been left blank. It is an official register nevertheless, with a different format, title, and contents, in comparison with the neighbouring members of the group. Its title is: “Registro per lo Stampatore e per i Miniatori del Giuoco di Minchiate.”
Among the ten registers newly examined, this is the only one, which I have already discussed.(4) With reference to a previous note about Berrettari’s Minchiate (5), this register has provided new information that could complement the data already known.
In particular, it contains the records of all paper sheets given to the printer and received back from 1821 to 1829, and the records of Minchiate sheets painted in the initial months of 1821. Three painters were active for the Azienda delle Carte da Giuoco, before we find Berretari in another register, coming from the Siena sector of the administration.(6)
Let me refer here to the note quoted above (4) for any further detail about this register.
3. Register No. 151
This is a really new source, without any hint from all the registers studied - this information is thus unique. The title of this register is: “N. 1. Giornale dei nuovi Giuochi ultimati e coloriti in Litografia”. It has the usual format of 25x40 cm, with paper sheets given to the cardmaker recorded in the page to the left, and packs submitted on the right.
The only one cardmaker involved in this register is Teofilo Salucci, and we do not find here any other information about him from previous or following years. Here, Salucci is explicitly indicated as “investito di Patente in conformità dell’I. e R. concessione”, having thus obtained a specific authorisation. He produced different amounts of all card varieties used at the time, except for Minchiate.
In the register, the column corresponding to Minchiate had been pre-set, as usual. We also find them mentioned at the beginning, but no Minchiate sheet was produced. It is likely that this activity had been programmed for later on - also due to the greater number of figures - and then the factory closed before beginning that production.
The production for the two years involved is reported in the table below.
The activity of 1835 did not cover the full year, as can be verified in the monthly productions, reported apart.
In spite of its limited success, this innovative enterprise from a new cardmaker is worth discussing in some detail. Actually, Teofilo Salucci is more important than an unknown Florentine cardmaker. With the sources and methods available in these days, it is easy to unearth at least a dozen of his masterworks just by surfing the web.
Now, he was not a renowned cardmaker - this remains true - but he was a well-known master craftsman in Florence at the time. He owned and led a lithography workshop in Florence, which was much valued by the best publishers of the town. Moreover, his works were also sought-after by publishers abroad, and he received significant commissions from far countries too.
As a result, we can still appreciate his engravings in renowned books of the time, be they fundamental works in the field of visual arts, architecture, as well as of medicine and natural sciences.
There is an additional topic that may be of interest, because it involves one of the typical discussions, which allow art historians to write so many books and articles. The question is the introduction of chromolithography among the reproduction processes, who was the inventor, where and when was it first implemented. Several authors agree that it began in France with the corresponding patent awarded in July 1837 to Godefroy Engelmann of Mulhouse. Others insinuate that it could be known earlier on.(7)
Of course, a mechanical procedure available, instead of having manually to paint all the individual sheets of playing cards, is better known from later times. Readers are fortunate enough that I am not a historian of visual arts, so that I will just add one comment, addressed to card collectors.
The information that we have obtained is such as to necessarily stimulate collectors to search for these extra-rare items, which by the way exactly corresponds to their preferred hunting. As a matter of fact, the great lesson offered by Sylvia Mann is not yet fully understood; namely, that precisely the most “ordinary” playing cards from various places and times are instead more suitable for providing useful historical information.
4. Register No. 152
This is a twin register for Teofilo Salucci, certainly associated with the previous one – same standard format and 25x40 cm dimensions, and the same contents. In this register we read: “Fabbrica VI, Teofilo Salucci, Fabbricante di Carte da Giuoco di nuovo disegno, e Colorite in Litografia.” on its cover, and “Registro di Fabbrica” on its spine.
Apparently, the records were kept on two identical books, one for the administration, Giornale, one for the maker, Registro di Fabbrica - supposedly, the maker’s book was given back to the administration, when the factory closed. Nevertheless, there are a few points worth noting here too. Interesting is, in particular, the indication of a sixth manufacture of playing cards in Florence. An exact list of these six factories is not easy to reconstruct.
Factory No. 1 was that of Pistoj, which for several years had been used by some colleagues as well. Factory No. 2 had been traditionally that of Maury. When Maury left for Leghorn in 1818, his factory was no longer mentioned in the registers of the Florentine cardmakers, but for a while no other factory received the No. 2 label, missing in the lists. The three remaining factories can be tentatively attributed to Del Pieve, Falugi, and Baragioli, respectively.
There is an interesting text in the front page, handwritten by Gio. Andrea Pescetti, the Revisore, as follows.
Registro di Dare e Avere. Il presente Registro contenente novantanove carte è stato da me infrascritto Revisore delle Carte da Giuoco numerato per servire al Sig. Teofilo Salucci, onde iscriverci le compre che farà della Carta filogranata piccola e grande per le figure, con il respettivo corredo della Carta filogranata bianca, e Giuochi di Minchiate, come pure i diversi giuochi, che presenterà all’Uffizio per bollarsi.
5. Register No. 153
As in other cases, this register clearly appears to belong to a series, different however from the two series already examined. Here we read “VII 1825-1828 Registro dei Giuochi bollati” on its spine and “Ristretto di Partite per il Giornale dei Conti aperti dei Fabbricanti di Carte da Giuoco” on its cover.
The format is the standard one, 25x40 cm, with hard cover, inner pages cut at the top, and with vertical lines pre-set for the columns dedicated to the various card kinds. In this case, the page on the right is just a continuation of that on the left, with the same headings and lists. The register contains records for the complete years 1825 to 1828 and nothing else.
I have decided, as usual for these ten registers, to copy its records without trying to reconstruct the exact situation of the whole series preserved. The yearly amounts are reported in the table below.
No. corresponds to the first column of the register, with identification number of each entry of the year up to the number reported in this table. The corresponding tables with the monthly amounts are inserted apart, as for other registers.
In this register, in addition to all the records of makers coming into the Ufficio for stamping their packs, we only find the monthly totals recorded, and the yearly amounts in the table above have been derived from them.
6. Register No. 154
This register covers the years 1851-1856, as already written in its spine together with: “XII Registro dei Giuochi bollati”. It thus represents the 12th member of a “new” series of registers, as the previous one. It has the same 25x40 cm dimensions, pages cut at the top with identical headings on the left and right pages, same lists that continue from January 1851 to December 1856 included.
In this case the monthly totals have been tabulated again at the end of each year, with the total yearly amounts recorded in the same original tables. The table below thus derives directly from the register and reports the yearly amounts, whereas the copy of the monthly values is reported apart.
No. corresponds to the first column of the register, with the identification number of each entry of the year up to the number reported in this table.
In the last original table, with the monthly amounts for 1856, the first column has the monthly number of another variety of cards, Due Teste. This of course indicates a new pattern with two-headed figures. However, the register had not been pre-set for this additional column, which is entered in the first column to the left, usually containing identification numbers for all entries.
In the previous years of this register, the same information is inserted in the left margin of the page, in an additional outside column, without marked lines. (I have added a final column for these cards in the monthly tables copied apart, under the corresponding heading of DUT, for Due Teste.)
This new column of numbers seems to contain a surplus information on cards already present in the other columns, supposedly that of small 40-card packs, the variety most widely spread; actually, all the packs listed in the new column do not contribute to the totals recorded in the register.
7. Register No. 155
This is again a “standard” register, “Registro di Fabbricanti di Carte da Giuoco”, which appears to have been inserted here in a wrong place. It is particularly useful for the very last entries recorded by the administration, reaching here October 1862.
The contributions of the various makers in 1861 are copied in the table below. For comparison, a last row has been added with the total values of 1862, up to October included.
The monthly records for 1862 have been inserted apart.
7. No. 155 Monthly production 1861-1862
It may be interesting to note that Baragioli and Chiari were the only makers still producing Minchiate at the time, with the greater contribution coming from the former: 103 of 121 in 1861 and 60 of 84 in the first ten months of 1862; the 24 packs produced by Chiari in 1862 were all stamped in October.
We have thus reached here the end of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Later on, the corresponding administration should have been that of the Italian Kingdom, in Turin. Many years ago, I made some research in Turin too, but was not able to discover similar series of registers for the following years. In principle, it should be possible to find there further information for the production of the Florentine cardmakers - some of them have been active in the 20th century too.
Certainly, searching for Minchiate produced in Florence after the register examined here is a hard task, harder than searching for black swans. (I know that Minchiate were still produced in Genua in the 20th century, but am wondering whether they were used in anything else than for exports to America.)
We find here at least two points worth noting. First is the appearance of a factory in Lucca. Of course, we know that one was established there earlier on,(8) but by then Lucca was not part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (where it only entered, for a few years, in 1847). Evidently, as it had occurred for Leghorn, the administration had admitted another exception to its rule that all factories for card production of Tuscany had to be located in Florence.
The second remarkable point is the first column for Due Teste, as already found for 1856. Similarly, the packs of this column do not contribute to the totals recorded in the register.
8. Register No. 156
9. Register No. 157
10. Register No. 158
We are now left with the last three registers of this group of ten. Differently from other cases, these three registers clearly appear to belong to the same series, and the records continue from a register to the other without interruptions. I have thus decided to deal with these three registers together.
They again report records for the first years, from 1814 up to 1818. For these years, we had mostly information from the monthly notes preserved as loose sheets in a folder kept in a different archive section.(9) The three registers examined here appear as a more definitive compilation, with the possibility to amend any mistakes that could have been present in the loose sheets of the monthly records.
The total yearly products have been reported in the table below. The production of 1814 is not complete; that of 1818 has been completed with the help of other registers.
As usual, the corresponding monthly amounts have been copied apart.
It is clear that these early years, which were less defined in the first note, now obtain more information than strictly necessary. As already mentioned, I have preferred to copy the relevant records nevertheless, because when they agree with previous ones this can be assumed as a confirmation that they are exact.
In the few cases where a complete agreement is not found, I have no way now to decide which values should be preferred.
This note is just a supplementary contribution after a previous one.(1) In the first case, I tried to deduce a possibly coherent system from several sources. In this second case, on the contrary, I have limited my report to following the order of the ten registers of this group, which had escaped previous attention.
These registers do not belong to a series, even if they are numbered in order - sometimes they appear as isolated cases, for special situations. New information is obtained in some instances, such as for the factory active in producing Minchiate in the years 1821-29 and directly managed by the Azienda, or for the factory led in 1834-35 by Teofilo Salucci, a renowned engraver of the time, who is here documented to have been an authentic pioneer in applying chromolithography to card production, even if his results apparently were not good enough.
The scattered reports for card production in Tuscany from 1814 to 1862 described here only in a few cases correspond to lacking values. Particularly interesting seem to be the records for the initial and the final years of activity of the Ufficio del Bollo, which were partially or totally missing in the previous study.
More frequently they repeat records that were already present, with in some cases a disagreement in the corresponding values. Only in part this can be attributed to mistakes in copying from the registers: in some cases, there is a disagreement between different registers, even if they appear to contain equally valid official records.
(1) Franco Pratesi: 1815-1861: THE PRODUCTION OF PLAYING CARDS IN TUSCANY (2013)
(2) ASF, Amministrazione del Registro e Aziende riunite. Ufficio del Bollo Straordinario e Azienda delle Carte da giuoco.
(3) ASF, Amministrazione del Registro e Aziende riunite. Ufficio del Bollo Straordinario e Azienda delle Carte da giuoco, No. 149-158.
(4) Franco Pratesi: 1821-1829 – PUZZLING MINCHIATE REVISITED (2013)
(5) Franco Pratesi: 1821-1829: PUZZLING MINCHIATE BY GIUSEPPE BERRETARI (2013)
(6) ASF, Amministrazione del Registro e Aziende riunite. Direzione di Siena. No. 692.
(7) Wikipedia: Chromolithography
(8) Franco Pratesi: 1810-1811 – PLAYING CARDS IN LUCCA (2013)
(9) ASF, Amministrazione del Registro e Aziende riunite. Direzione Generale di Firenze, No. 63.