Re: Sola-Busca riddles

Huck wrote
As the groups with 9 are both composed by a mix of even and odd numbers, it can't be, that all 9 look in the same direction.
etc. You are assuming what you want confirmation for (namely, your division between "recognized" and "unrecognized"). Naturally you will get what you want, but it is because you put it there in the first place. All you can legitimately say is that the division of 9 and 9 is consistent with your hypothesis. It is also consistent with my more straightforward hypothesis.

Re: Sola-Busca riddles

mikeh wrote:Huck wrote
As the groups with 9 are both composed by a mix of even and odd numbers, it can't be, that all 9 look in the same direction.
etc. You are assuming what you want confirmation for (namely, your division between "recognized" and "unrecognized"). Naturally you will get what you want, but it is because you put it there in the first place. All you can legitimately say is that the division of 9 and 9 is consistent with your hypothesis. It is also consistent with my more straightforward hypothesis.
19 cards look in the direction of the other, the cards 0, 21 and 6 look straight. So was the observation of these pairs 1-2, 3-4, 5-(6), 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18, 19-20.

The grouping of the other pairs are (2-3) [4-5] (6-7) [8-9] (10-11) [12-13] (14-15) [16-17] (18-19)

Re: Sola-Busca riddles

Who are the Roman heroes? not 0, 1, 20, or 21. In addition, I don't think 17, Ipeo, counts as one, nor does Tarotpedia ( He's not Scipio, the most virtuous of the Romans. So not counting him or 6, who faces front, we have 8 facing one way and 8 facing the other. Well, Nembrotto and Panfilio assume heroic stances. That would make 9 and 9. It's not as tidy as I thought, but it works.

Another problem: if my hypothesis is right about the virtues, they should all face the same way, given my theory. They are 5, 14 (or 8), and 15. They don't. Either I have the virtues wrong or they are something else. I don't know.

Re: Sola-Busca riddles

There were poetry clubs (academies) and the members gave itself nick names, mostly old Roman nick names. The whole collection of Sola-Busca motifs looks like members of such a fantasy poetry club.

That's just a very exotic deck. Likely they had a lot of fun about it. I don't think, that the names lead to a lot of insight, with the exception of "Falco".

In the case of the Mantegna Tarocchi we have that from the curious figures 31-33 Iliaco, Chronico and Cosmico two appeared as nick names in the Roman accademia in the 1460s. If this once was done before with a card deck or something similar to a card deck (Mantegna Tarocchi), it might have triggered a later new attempt in similar style with the Sola-Busca Tarocchi.

Re: Sola-Busca riddles / Lucca

A 19 years old article by Franco Pratesi ...
PLAYING CARDS IN LUCCA (1995), puplished 1996 in IPCS magazine

It has interestingly 2 pictures of Lucca trump cards used for a different purpose ... a Justice and a Temperance, not especially remarkable, but relative unknown elsewhere.


Somehow evidence, that at least around the mid of 16th century some virtues in Lucca were used as trump cards (in contrast to the Lucca deck type in c. 1700).
Some notes are interesting, though not a revolution. As this one
5. The cards used in Casino in 1672

A finely executed manuscript in Lucca National Library contains official resolutions of the local
Casino. (6) A single chapter − the last but one – is very interesting since it contains a price-list for
playing cards. They are distinguished according to being either new or used, and according to their
kind. All the prices are here stated in Grossi.

Minchiate nuove 8 / usate 5
Primiera 5 / 3
Ombre 7 / 3
Nuove di Francia da Primiera 4
Con 8-9-10 / 5
Tavolieri 2
Dadi ad arbitrio dei giocatori

The information on French cards may be useful to experts, as well as that on different packs
being used for Ombre and Primiera. It must be noted that the game of Minchiate is here quoted at
first place and with its traditional name. If a peculiar game and pack for Lucca was used, it has left
no trace here. It can thus be supposed either to have been introduced later on, or to have been
locally known as, and used instead of, ordinary Minchiate.

... further another article by Franco Pratesi, less interesting for our theme ...
1810-1811 – PLAYING CARDS IN LUCCA (2013)

Inscriptions as anagrams

Andrea Vitali has recently drawn my attention to a new essay in his "hosted essays" section, "I Tarocchi Sola-Busca, Il segreto dei segreti: una possibile verità", by Mauro Chiappini, It is a condensation of a book Chiappini published recently by the same name ( I have several questions about the essay, which I want to raise for discussion.

His contention is that the inscriptions painted on the Sola-Busca deck (the actual SB, as opposed to the unpainted individual cards that are in various collections) are anagrams that show the true circumstances of its production, while the engraved inscriptions give clues regarding the family for whom the engravings were done.

As an example of this idea of messages encoding anagrams, he gives the example of Galileo's communications to Kepler. I do not know about them, but the Hypnerotomachia of 1499 Venice has them, if memory serves. However it seems to me that in that case the originals were nonsense words, thus begging to be deciphered. I do not know about Galileo's.

In the book, he says, he has shown rigorously that the trumps are of the C order, i.e. Lombardy, and that therefore the deck, both engraved and painted, was done for families in that region. And since numbers were not put on cards in general in Lombardy until after 1500 (as shown by the Cary Sheet and a card in the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris, which lack numbers), they must have been done after that date. This would apply to the engraved deck in all its versions, as well as the painted version, since the numbers are engraved.

Gnaccolini, if I remember correctly, said the order did not correspond to any of Dummett's three types, but (in a footnote) she adds that it does have some elements that seem to draw from both B and C. In my view (as, I think, in Gnoccolini's) there is no reason to insist the order to be one of the three, because the order is clearly given by the numbers. Given the general creativity of the deck, creativity in the order can be expected as well. At least we all agree that the subjects are the usual ones, just represented in an unusual way, and in more or less the usual progression!

Chiappini's argument for the C order, unfortunately, does not appear in his essay, except a brief argument for why the cards are not of the B order. There he says only: (a) the B order has the 8th trump as Love, and Nero cannot correspond to that trump; and (b) the B order has its 20th trump as Justice, and Nembroto, with the lightning bolt through him and the broken tower behind, cannot be Justice. Neither of these arguments seem to me persuasive. Divine Justice can easily be associated with a lightning bolt and a broken tower. But more easily the card would correspond to Sagitta, the Arrow, i.e. the Tower card. In the C order, the 8th card is Justice; Gnaccolini argued that Nero was associated to that virtue "sarcastically". It seems to me that the same could be said about Love, that Nero might represent the opposite of Love. Or it could be some other card, such as the Hanged Man (since he is holding an infant upside down over a fire). To be persuaded that the sequence was of type C and thus of Lombardy, I would have to see the argument in more detail.

As for the painted inscriptions, they are the following:
- S.P.Q.V. on the shield of the triumph Metelo (XV). Also on the same card, the base of the column, the inscription VF
- D.P. on the Queen of Batons.
- M.S. on the Aces, except that of Coins.
- SERVIR CHI PERSERVERA INFIN OTIENE on the Ace of Coins. On the same card TRAHOR FATIS that we find on the Ace of Cups.
- ORFATIS on the triumphs POSTUMIO (II) and CATONE (XIII).
- SENATUS VENETUS on the shield of the triumph MARIO (IIII).
- ANNO AB URBE CODITA MLXX on the shield of the triumph BOCHO (XIIII).
The longest one, on the Ace of Coins, is the most informative. He notes the misspelling of "OTTIENNE" (and likewise of "CONDITA" on another inscription) and says it is likely not accidental, because it allows the following decoding:
In other words, the anonymous Venetian artist assigned to paint the cards is sad to have to serve the Rino Fieschi. "Rino" is short for "Etore", Chiappini says, and there were indeed many of that name, of a noble Genoese family; . It might be that "Venetian" is an adjective applying to him rather than to the artist. It was not unusual for a family to be part of the nobility of both places, as for example the Cibo family earlier:
Che i Fieschi fossero aggregati alla nobiltà veneta non è un fatto eccezionale, in quanto, già in precedenza, altre famiglie genovesi, tra cui quella dei Cibo, avevano ottenuto lo stesso beneficio.

(That the Fieschi were added to the Venetian nobility is not an exceptional fact, in as much, already previously, other Genoese families, among them that of the Cibo, had obtained the same benefit.)
I do not know how unusual it was. I know that Venice and Genoa were maritime rivals. I would think that if the Fieschi were ennobled by Venice, that could be verified. However it may be that it is only the painter who is Venetian, giving his origin at the end. Chiappini does say that the painter is Venetian.

I wonder at the spelling "VENETIAN". Is that really in good Venetian? Wouldn't it be "Veneziano" or "Venetiano" (given that the Latin has a T, and the word "Veneto" for the region controled by Venice)? But perhaps the "o" could be dropped.

Another problem is that the "solution" has two more letters than the original, an extra V and N. So instead of "VENETIAN" we have "EETIAN". But that still doesn't look much like "Venetiano".

I continue. In one case, a Rino Fieschi married a Genoese noblewoman named Tommasina Spinola, or Masina Spinola for short. Hence the "M S" painted on several of the cards. The two crests on the cards, Chiappini says, match those of the two families:
Lo stemma degli Spinola è d’oro con riquadri mediani in rosso e argento, gli stessi colori che ritroviamo sulle carte, con la variazione della fascia attraversante che appartiene allo stemma dei Fieschi.

The crest of the Spinola is golden with median squares in red and silver, the same colors that are found on the cards, with the variation of the band across belonging to the crest of the Fieschi.
This marriage was in 1584, which fits the late date Chiappini estimates for the deck. But what to make of the "ANNO AB URBE CODITA MLXX" on the BOCHO card. Well, it is decoded as:
In other words, 20 years after the year of the Turks. That would be the battle of Lepanto of 1571, in which the alliance of Genoa, Venice, and Spain defeated the Turks. So the deck is not 1491, as others think, but actually 1591, exactly 100 years later.

He has no comments on the other painted inscriptions. Instead he moves on to the engraved inscriptions, shared by other engraved examples of individual cards. What anagrams may reveal information there?

First, he notes that in the suit of Cups, there are the inscriptions NATANABO on the Knight, POLISENA on the Queen and LUCIO CECILIO R. on the King. If these are combined we have an anagram for:
which is a warning to observe moderation in drinking as in the rest of life, a moral instruction related to the suit object. He notes that a Fool card described by Cicognara, in a deck now lost, had him drinking from a jug labeled "MUSCATELLO". That label could be an anagram for "“Mescolal tu”, comparing the craziness of the game to the loss of reasoning ability from wine. (The word "mescola" means "mixed"; I cannot find a comparable word with an "l" added.) I would think that the implication was there even without supposing an anagram. Chiappini does not have any comparable examples for the other suits. One is apparently enough to demonstrate the point.

In addition, there are two engraved inscriptions on the trumps:
- "SC" on the chariot of the Triumph DEO TAURO (VII) and the flag on top of the pole on the Triumph METELO (XV).
- "SPQR" (Senatus Populusque Romanus) on the quiver of the Triumph CARBONE (XII)
He says that the second of these is related to the historical figure represented on the card, something he explains in the book. As to the other, SC, he disagrees with the usual interpretation, proposed by Hind, that it means "Senatus Consultus", because it does not explain the inverted ivy leaf that surrounds the letters on the chariot of DEO TAURO. He proposes instead that they denote "BUSCA", which of course is the name of one of the two families associated with the deck. The Busca in mid-16th century were located in Pavia and Milan. He suggests that the upside down ivy leaf was an old crest of that family. The reasoning is that the Busca were originally, from the 12th century, lords of Cossano Belbo in Piedmont, and even today the crest of that town is an inverted ivy leaf, with the letters "CB" rather than "SC". So likely in the mid-16th century the ivy leaf with "SC" was still a crest of that family. That family commissioned the engravings and later got possession of the painted deck.

I hope I have represented Chiappini correctly. It is certainly an ingenious set of ideas.

Re: Sola-Busca riddles (2)

Huck wrote:...
However: The jump from Falco to Flaccus seems a little bit questionable. I was just interested in "Falco".
I agree. More probable identity (if Orosius is indeed a source for several of the trump characters) is Gaius Valerius Falto: his name is misspelt in the Seven Books of History Against the Pagans by Paulus Orosius as Falco, Book 4:

In the consulate of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus and Gaius Valerius Falco (sic), the Romans waged war on the Faliscians of whom 15,000 fell i the ensuing battle.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Sola-Busca riddles

Huck wrote:
If I follow the system, that is indicated by my observation, I would expect, that No 4-5 and 8-9 would proceed with a presentation of cards, which belong to the upper part of the Tarot cards, which would be (likely) 15 Devil, 13 Death, Hanging Man and possibly Justice (high in Ferrara) or Temperance (high in Milan) or Father Time.

Number 5 ...


... has a strange tool in his hand, and we once discovered a similar tool in context of a "Father Time" at the Casa Rella in Trento.

Finally we found, that the strange tool is part of a clock.
Great identification.




at ...

Indeed it's interesting, that we've a clear mixing of Time (clock) and lantern.
So indeed, though this man looks rather young, this might have been, as expected, a modernized "Father Time".
Also similar to emblem carried by the figure on the Chariot in this The Triumph of Time:


Trionfi. Comment. Bernardo Lapini. Canzoniere. Comment. Francesco Filelfo, Girolamo Squarzafico
Francesco Petrarca, Squarciafico, Lapini, Filelfo. Printed in Venice by Bernardino Rizus (also called Rizzo) de Novara,1488.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Sola-Busca riddles

Discussion to the theme of Sola-Busca riddles:
Notturno Tarocchi ... with perspectives on Sola Busca and Lucca Tarocchi and Karnöffel[/size]

My researches to the Sola-Busca Tarocchi had arrived at something rather complicated ...

Sola-Busca riddles

This was a state between many difficult questions ...


I came to the conclusion, that one group of cards could be related to standard trumps (with insecurities), another group not. When I arranged a table in the above given manner (0 and 21 embedding 1-20 with numbers running from the left bottom corner up to the right top), then the 9 cards with no chance to be identified gathered in the two middle groups (blue ground). One card in these middle groups was, however, very clear: The Chariot.


I remember ...
I made a pause and recovered a bit.

I couldn't avoid to think about the Lucca Tarocchi. I hope everybody knows, what this is. It's a strange reduced Tarocchi with 69 cards, from which 13 belong to the category "special cards" (1 Fool and 12 others)

not numbered Fool
9 Wheel
10 Chariot
11 Hermit
12 Hanging Man
13 Death
14 Devil
15 Tower
not numbered Star
not numbered Moon
not numbered Sun
not numbered World
not numbered Fame

So I make now a short summary of all that, what I found out by trial and error
Somehow I arrived at ...
(40) 20 World (in Sola-Busca 21)
(39) 19 Angel (in Sola-Busca 17)
(38) 18 Sol (in Sola-Busca 16)
(37) 17 Moon (in Sola-Busca 17)
(36) 16 Star (in Sola-Busca 4)
15 Tower (in Sola-Busca 20)
14 Falconer (in Sola-Busca 9) ... somehow later replaced as devil
13 Death (in Sola-Busca 13)
12 Hanging Man (in Sola-Busca 8)
11 Father Time (in Sola-Busca 5)
1 Panfilio (in Sola-Busca 1)
0 Mato (in Sola-Busca 0)
12 cards ... with a 13th, Chariot, in the background

Lucca Tarocchi:

I recognized, that 1, Panfilio took the role of Wheel card, which in Minchiate is below the Chariot. Panfilio would be the Magician in normal Tarocchi (important cause its 5 point in the game), but in the Lucca Tarocchi the Wheel would have the lowest rank of the trumps.

The function of the Chariot became clear: he was the 10 to the 9 heroes, which couldn't be identified.


Since then I got the clear opinion, that the Lucca Tarocchi rules with 69 had older roots, reaching back to 15th century. Actually a suspicion since I've learned about its existence. 69 cards, that looked like a memory on the 5x14-theory.

The hypotheses to the Rosenwald Tarocchi (2011) played a role. 69 cards + 3 queens on 3 woodblocks would make a Trionfi game with 69 cards.

Now we look at the Notturno: Franco's listing ...
10 Vecchio
09 Rota
08 Carro
07 Giustia
06 Temperantia
05 Fortezza
04 Bagatella
03 Matto
02 Papa
01 Imperatore
.... although there are 3 overlapping cards to the Lucca Tarocchi version (Vecchio, Rota, Carro) it looks like a collection, that neither Sola Busca nor Lucca Tarocchi used.
And another strange feature: Imperatore + Papa below below the Matto, that looks like a memory on Karnöffel or Imperatori decks.

Re: Sola-Busca riddles

Angelo Catone - author of a treaties on "Pogonius" (the bearded star) of 1472*:


The first of the three types of comets is a bearded star (Pogonius):

SB Catone with Pogonius (bearded star) and motto Trahor Fatis:


Catóne Angelo (Sepino or Benevento, Circa 1440 - 1496) was astrologer, doctor, bibliophile and public reader of philosophy and astronomy in the Studium parthenopeo since its reopening in 1465 to 1495*, followed the lessons of Nicola Rainaldi da Sulmona.

Recognized as a true authority in astronomy and medicine, he soon enjoyed the personal esteem of Ferdinand I of Aragon and later of the French court. Left widowed, in 1482 he was made archbishop of Vienne, the French town of the present-day Isère department.

He was also editor, critic and co-author of some important manuscripts and astrological and medical prints. His hand is the comet book that appeared in 1472 and printed by Riessinger in Naples. In 1474 he also published a work written by Matteo Silvatico (Salerno, 1285 - 1342), a physician of Roberto d'Angiò, one of the first books printed in the kingdom, titled Pandectae medicinae, gray opus pandectarum medicinae Matthaei Silvatici. In the same year is coauthor, perhaps along with Antonio Guarnieri, of a Tractatus de Febribus, who left Naples for the types of Bertholdus Rihing. It is often mentioned in the Mémoires of Philippe de Commynes or Filippo de Commines (Flanders, Belgium 1447 - Argenton-les-Vallés, 18.10.1511), a French historian and chronicler of Flemish origin, whom he was a great friend.

In the documents the name is given in several variants, such as Angelo Catho de Supino, Angelo Cato or Angelus Cato, Angelus Chatto (and de Supino).

A Via Angelo Catone is in the historic center of Benevento, while Sepino is named the main street of the village.


*The University of Naples, the oldest in the World, closed in 1443 was reopened in 1465 but closed again in 1490, then reopened1507

*In a letter to John of Aragon, published under the title De cometa qui anno 1472 mense Ianuario apparuit (Neapoli 1472), where in ten chapters he treats of the celestial area where he saw the comet, its characteristics (composition, color, size), the history of the apparitions and the astronomical significance and astrological of it, for which proposes the name of Pogonias; Pogonius (bearded star) is Aristotle's term for one of two type of comet defined by him (the other being the 'long-haired' star)
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests