Italian renaissance woodcut playing cards

Legends on the bastoni pip cards

All preserved number cards above ace in the suit of batons have a banner across the center with the appropriate number spelled out with letters. For the most part, the numbers are written in their expected contemporary vernacular Italian forms. These are quite close to the names of the cards as recorded by Tomaso Garzoni in 1585 (identical to modern Italian).

However, for 2 and 3, classical Latin forms are used. Latin declined the numbers up to three in grammatical cases, and for no obvious reason the tarots, the Fournier and reversed decks use the dative forms, while the crude deck has accusatives. The elegant deck has no surviving baton number cards. Garzoni uses the normal Italian forms derived from the Latin nominatives. Another anacronism is settem in the tarot. The final m was already weak in classical Latin, and disappeared long before the assimilation of medial pt to tt.

Card Tarot Fournier Reversed Crude Garzoni Classical Latin
2 duobusduob2 duob2 duos· due duoduōsduōbus
3 tribu9*****·* *****·*·tres tre trēs – trēs – tribus
4 quatroquatro quatro quatr· quattro quattuor
5 cinque:cinq3 :cinq3 ·cinq3· cinque quinque
6 ]*o· ]eo: seo: ·sei· sei sex
7 ·settemsete[ sete * sette septem
8 ·otto·otto otto oto otto octo
9 nuoue·nove nove nou nove novem
10 ·diexe: dexe dieci decem

The symbols here approximated by ‘2’ and ‘9’ are variants of the abbreviation sign normally expanded us, even though in the latter case it is somewhat redundant given the preceding u. ‘3’ approximates a sign which after q expands to ue. The asterisk represents approximately one unreadable letter, brackets indicate that the end of the inscription is not visible on any of the fragments.

Though the inscriptions on the threes in the Fournier and the reversed decks (mirror images of each other) are illegible, there can be no doubt that they are botched copies of the text tribu9. On the seven of the crude deck, the ribbon on which the text should be is folded so that it forms three segments. On the middle segment there are two strokes that could possibly represent tt, while the two outer ones are clearly empty in all fragments.