About The Visconti-Sforza Tarot (Cary-Yale – circa 1466)
The Visconti-Sforza tarot is a collection of Milanese 15th-century tarot decks belonging to the Visconti and Sforza families, and one of the oldest collections of tarot decks known to exist.
The Cary-Yale deck, also known as the Visconti di Modrone set, has been dated to around 1466, though may be older, and may even have been produced as early as 1447. Of the original cards, 67 survive, including 56 of the minor arcana (17 face cards and 39 pip cards), and 11 trumps of an unknown total number. All of the trump cards and face cards have a gilt background, and the pip cards have a silver background.
The deck has a non-standard number of face cards, being unusual and particularly treasured for its addition of female pages and female knights in addition to male pages and knights. The deck also has a non-standard set of trumps, of which the surviving ones are linked to the suits through design motifs.
The seven surviving trump and face cards linked to the cups suit are: Chariot, Charity, Death, King of Cups, Male Knight of Cups, Male Page of Cups, and Female Page of Cups. The seven surviving cards linked to the coins suit are: Judgement, The World, King of Coins, Queen of Coins, Male Knight of Coins, Female Knight of Coins, and Female Page of Coins. The seven surviving face and trump cards linked to the swords suit are: The Emperor, The Empress, Love, King of Swords, Queen of Swords, Female Knight of Swords, and Female Page of Swords. The seven surviving cards linked to the batons suit are: Faith, Fortitude (Strength, depicting a woman riding a lion), Hope, Queen of Batons, Female Knight of Batons, Male Page of Batons, and Female Page of Batons.
Due to the academic dispute over the true number of cards in the original deck and the even balance of the surviving cards, we have included a blank place placeholder for the missing pip card, the Three of Coins, only.