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The Visconti-Sforza Tarot Cards [Paperback]

Michael Dummett
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 141 pages
  • Publisher: George Braziller (April 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807611417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807611418
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 812,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed in this item 17 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wanted the cards, not a book. I was really disappointed with this as it was listed as 'Tarot cards'. I had already opened the package so was unable to return it
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mediocre commentary on the Visconti-Sforza deck 12 Jan 2001
By Uri Raz - Published on
The book begins with a 15 pages introduction to tarot, which I enjoyed a lot - it is informative, readable, and I learnt from it.

The second part of the book - which is most of it's pages - brings color reproductions of the Visconti-Sforza cards, with commentary on each cards. As the book is out of print, I could find only a black & white photocopy of the book from which I cant say anything about the quality of the cards' reproductions.

As reproductions of the cards are available commercially and the book is out of print for a long time, I think most people would buy this book for commentary on the cards, rather than the reproductions of the cards and thus rate this book based on the text, rather than the pictures.

I find the text disappointing, especially considering the author. Beyond tracing copies of the cards (e.g. who painted them and who owned them at the time of the book's writing, etc) the text is doesnt bring a lot of information.

Some cards - both minor & major arcana - have only a couple of lines of text (e.g. commenting that in the pips of the coin suite with odd number of coins the arrangement is sometimes unusual), and in general I didnt learn much from it.

This is in contrast to such books as Brian Williams' (e.g. Renessance & Minchiate decks), which go much deeper into the history of tarot including comparison of decks and examples of art from the appropriate historical times.

This is a simple book about the deck - basic commentary about it's history and art with no serius attempt to put it in the context of it's time (e.g. art of the time or the works of the artists).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short, but has pics 26 Aug 2012
By Dusty White - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am mildly disappointed by this volume. Granted, it has excellent representations (and perhaps the only ones) of the Visconti-Sforza deck, but Michael knew so much more that he could have shared, and did in his magnum opus on the tarot. Still, it was little more than a quickly penned foreword and a collection of images with brief commentary. Don't pay more than eight bucks for this book--it is just not worth it. That said, it makes a nice (inexpensive) addition to a serious collection. Try these to see Dummett's genius shine:

The Game of Tarot: From Ferrara to Salt Lake City Amazingly there is "one" copy available for $150. Normally $250-$300 is standard fare, even with a lot of searching.

Slightly cheaper, and much smaller (the book above is a brick--my copy weighs over 8 pounds!) is History of the Occult Tarot. I am reading that now and it is a LOT to chew on. So much subtlety in between the facst that it can easily consume several months of your time contemplating. And I think around $80?

Also, you might like the early history of the tarot (as a game) here: A Wicked Pack of Cards: The Origins of the Occult Tarot, which has some critics foaming at the mouth, as they love their tarot conspiracies.

Here is a relatively decent list of his contributions in literary form. Sadly, he passed last December, before I could meet him in person.

The Game of Tarot: from Ferrara to Salt Lake City (Duckworth, 1980);
Twelve Tarot Games (Duckworth, 1980);
The Visconti-Sforza Tarot Cards (G. Braziller, 1986);
Il mondo e l'angelo: i tarocchi e la loro storia (Bibliopolis, 1993)
I tarocchi siciliani (La Zisa, 1995);
A Wicked Pack of Cards: The Origins of the Occult Tarot (with Ronald Decker and Thierry Depaulis, St. Martin's Press, 1996);
A History of the Occult Tarot, 1870-1970 (with Ronald Decker, Duckworth, 2002);
A History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack (with John McLeod, E. Mellen Press, 2004
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