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Contents Pocket Notes—Stephen Minch 7 Observations on a rarity—William Kalush 9 Giochi di Carte Bellissimi di Regola, e di Memoria— Horatio Galasso 15 Commentary on Galasso’s Giochi di Carte... e di Memoria— Vanni Bossi 151 Contributors 189

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Summer 2007 \ Gibecière


MOST BEAUTIFUL CARD GAMES based on rules and memory techniques

with warnings for all those who play Primero, Cartetta, and other games, together with other amusing games and unusual secrets to bring amusement and pleasure to every knight.

composed and brought to light by horatio galasso d ’arienzo.

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Printed in Venice 1 5 9 3 . [Translated from the Italian by Lori Pieper ] Summer 2007 \ Gibecière


H o r at i o G a l a s s o

Gibecière / Vol. 2, No. 2


Giochi

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C a rt e . . . e

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Memoria

TO MY MOST ILLUSTRIOUS AND ESTEEMED LORD and

Master,

T H E C O U N T O F A R I A N O.

nowing how great a love your Excellency has for virtuous people,1 a desire came to me, who am the least virtuous of your servants, to make a little collection of my labors before my departure from this kingdom, and to bring them forth into the light under your illustrious and generous name. So that when it has been brought Summer 2007 \ Gibecière

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H o r at i o G a l a s s o

Gibecière / Vol. 2, No. 2


Giochi

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C a rt e . . . e

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Memoria

one by one [after you guess them], putting them in your hand face up. Then, when you have guessed all of them, make a row of six cards on the table, face down, beginning from the left, placing them one by one. Then make a row of six more cards just like that one. Thus, you put all the cards one by one in two rows, until all the cards are finished, thus making twelve piles. And then you conclude the game in an orderly fashion by turning the cards over and revealing the twelve Primeros.6

Summer 2007 \ Gibecière

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H o r at i o G a l a s s o

Gibecière / Vol. 2, No. 2


Giochi

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Memoria

Warnings for people who play Primero.

Y

our Lordship must be advised that they often cut the edges of the cards with small scissors, a little bit on one side, and a little bit on the other, that is, on three suits of cards, but on one suit they do not cut anything. In this way, when they play, they can recognize all the cards.

Another warning for the game of Primero.

Y

our Lordship must note that they are accustomed to enlarge the lines on the cards with a pen, and there are others who make the lines finer with a penknife on different parts of the card. In this way, ­someone can

Summer 2007 \ Gibecière

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Title page of the “Gallazzo” edition of 1598


COMMENTARY ON GALASSO’S GIOCHI DI CARTE...E DI MEMORIA

~@% VANNI BOSSI

To understand the historical context of booklets such as Horatio Galasso’s Giochi di carte, which are classified as “popular printed works of a secular nature,” we need to outline their history. These booklets, together with religious ones, started to appear in the fifteenth century, at the same time as more substantial works. They became very popular during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but lost much of this popularity when the average level of literacy rose and the printing of larger works became less restricted and more affordable. Some printers specialized in unbound editions, and most owned small offices in which books where often printed on commission. Today, the names of very few noted Italian printers of this sort and from this period have survived. Notable among them are Remondini di Bassano and Vincenzo de Girardoni. The popularity of these “soldo (penny)” books is demonstrated by the large quantity and variety in which they were produced. They continued to be printed into the mid-­twentieth century—proof of their popularity among the less educated. One well-established example of this popularity is the success of Pennaroli typography from Fiorenzoula d’Arda (in Piacenza), who specialized in broadsides, famous during their time. Indeed, some are still considered collectors’ delights. The few copies available today are sought after by informed book collectors. Since the eighteenth century, such persons have put together Summer 2007 \ Gibecière

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Vanni Bossi

v­ iribus ­quantitatis by Fra Luca Pacioli (c. 1496–1509). This manuscript, though, was unpublished in Galasso’s age, and there is no strong evidence to suggest he had access to it or a copy of it (the only contemporary example extant today is a fair copy, the original having been lost). Most likely, some of these tricks were already public knowledge by the time Giochi di carte was written. The few works published earlier contain only a small number of card tricks, and those are scattered and brief, adding further importance to Galasso’s book. It seems that the late sixteenth century was a prolific time for magicians. Italian contemporaries of Galasso included Abramo Colorni of Mantova, Geronimo Scotto of Piacenza and Alessandro Barbirolo of Bologna, to name but a few on record.

G

The seventy or eighty tricks Galasso mentions in his dedicatory epistle are in reality but fifty items total, and only twenty-five of these are tricks with cards and methods used in card cheating. Nevertheless, this is indisputably the richest collection of card tricks the sixteenth century produced, and it retained that distinction in the seventeenth as well. The book begins with a fine description (the first ever to be printed) of a stacked-deck arrangement. Following the contemporary popularity of the Spanish deck, the deck Galasso employs contains only forty-eight cards (the tens being extracted from the normal sequence of fifty-two). The effect is titled “A most beautiful game of rules and memory in which all the cards are called out, but none is called twice, and each is different from the other.” But, as we shall see, it is much more than that. The method calls for the four suits to be distributed among four persons who are obviously unaware of the secret. The performer starts by calling out Gibecière / Vol. 2, No. 2


C o m m e n ta r y

on

Galasso’s Giochi

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C a rt e . . .

the first card of the sequence: “And then you begin by ­calling out the ace of batons, and you will hold it in your hand face up. You then add 4 points and call out the five of swords [...]” and so forth. The idea of putting the cards in the spectators’ hands, face up, is quite interesting, and was most likely done to stress the seemingly random order in which the cards are called; a very clever subtlety, considering the time. Galasso continues: “When you have finished calling out all the cards [this sort of presentation reveals a long process in performance, contrary to our present theories on showmanship; but let’s not forget this is the sixteenth century], cut them and shuffle. Do not shuffle them in the Spanish style (sfogliando alla Spagnuola), however, but always place the cut portion on top of the other [in other words, rather than shuffling the cards, a series of straight cuts is performed, which does not alter the cyclic nature of the stack]. Then have anyone Your Lordship desires draw a card from the middle, but put all the cards underneath the one he takes together on the top, and do so before he pulls the card out of the deck. Then, as he is looking at the card that he has taken, Your Lordship will look at the card at the bottom of the deck, and by doing so, you will know which card he has taken [the glimpsed-card principle, leading to the second effect] by considering the rule employed in calling the cards from the beginning; that is, by adding four points more. And then you will have him give you that card, and you will put it on top, or on the bottom, and you can guess which card he has taken as many times as you wish [the procedure keeps the relative order of the cards intact, allowing you to repeat the effect]. Following this, you can have anyone you wish name a card, and Your Lordship will be able to say between which two cards it will be found by considering which card you Summer 2007 \ Gibecière

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Profile for Stephen Minch

Gibecière Vol. 2 No. 2  

Gibecière Vol. 2 No. 2

Gibecière Vol. 2 No. 2  

Gibecière Vol. 2 No. 2

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