These historically important cards, now known by various names in reproduction editions (I Naibi di Giovanni Vacchetta, Tarot of the Master, Tarocchi del Maestro), was originally published by Giovanni Vacchetta in Turin, Italy in 1893, as a black & white deck.
This copy has gorgeous hand painted water-coloring, done in a palette completely unlike any of the modern reproductions (by Solleone, Lo Scarabeo or Meneghello), using generally earth and pastel tones, with occasional brighter colors such as red. There is no information available about who colored the deck or when, though Vacchetta himself was an accomplished water-colorist.
Trumps show some nice varietal symbolism: Strength is a female figure, shown with both a Lion & pillar. The Devil is a stunning scene of an impish, snake-tailed devil inside the mouth of a much larger monster.
Traditional Italian suits are titled Bastoni, Coppe, Spade, and Denari; these Minors are not entirely scenic but not strictly pips, either. Court cards of Fante, Caval, Regina and Re have a great deal of personality and are shown in generally traditional arrangements, though Queens are mostly in standing positions. Vacchetta has illustrated his signature into one card of each of the suits: the II Coppe (Two of Cups), the As di Denari (Ace of Disks/Pentacles), the II Di Bastoni (Two of Wands), and II Spade (the Two of Swords). All cards have Italian titles or suit names at the card top, flanked by Roman numerals on Trumps (except Il Matto) and Minor Arcana Ace through 10 of each suit. Amore (card VI, Love) has an additional "Dolce Travaglio" in the title banner.
Upon the Ace of Deniers (Coins) is a 50 centesimi Italian tax stamp with hexagonal border, which was in use from from 1883 to 1914. There is also a date stamp from Torino that reads "Ufficio Del Bollo Strao - Torino" and is dated 15 Feb. 94 (1894).
All cards have a light varnish finish, with cards constructed of 2 layers of adhered paper. Upon the card backs the varnish appears smooth, but the faces have a very faint vertical line grain, which can be seen in the varnish when held under strong light.
The 6 missing cards are; Trumps X, XII, XVII, XVIII, XXI and Coppe IV, which are indicated as MISSING in the photos above.
This deck includes a 5" x 7 1/2" red & gold velvet drawstring pouch and a 4 3/4" x 8" x 2 3/8" inlaid, gloss varnished wooden box with hinged lid and red velvet lined interior.
2 3/4" x 5 1/4" x .014"
69 mm x 134 mm x .34
Condition description: All cards in excellent antique condition with a strong curve and rich patina, which varies throughout the deck; most cards have a vignetted appearance, while a few are more solidly darkened (see VIII/Giustizia & Caval di Coppa for reference above). Corners vary, some are more rounded, others more squared. Edges are generally intact, with occasional chipping or wear occurring near/on corners, though Re di Bastone has a small 1/4 tear on left card side, and approximately 1" of de-lamination of top left corner card layers, with bottom left corner top layer clipped off, though card back layer is intact. Ace of Denari (Coins) also is de-laminating on bottom right card corner, with small chip. There is a small brown edge stain on card tops of XVI/La Torre, XIX/Il Sole & XX/Il Giudizio. Small corner clips occur on 0/Il Matto & 2/Spade (also with corner de-lamination). There is absolutely NO wear on card backs. This clean deck has an almost imperceptible, very faint antique/old smell. Pouch in mint condition. Box in excellent condition, with some inner lining wear and occasional scuffs and areas of missing varnish.