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~~ Gallery 10 ~~
Regional Cards


page 5


go to the page's

page 1
regional patterns - part I
page 2
regional patterns - part II
page 3
regional patterns - part III
page 4
regional patterns - part IV

I wish to thank Francesco Massa for his kind contribution to this page

Despite the great variety of patterns and suit systems, Italian-suited playing cards almost never come in fancy patterns, and very few exceptions are known. This page shows two samples, one dating back to the early 1930s, and a modern one.


~ NOTE ~
the cards shown come from a faithful reprint of the original deck,
produced in limited edition by Il Meneghello, Italy

Among the very few examples known is a deck which manufacturer Raffaele Pignalosa (Naples) dedicated to fascism, the dictatorial Italian regime which lasted from 1922 to 1945.

Fascism was based on a strong nationalism, and praised all military activities which should have re-established a powerful Italian empire, inspired by the glory of ancient Rome.
These playing cards celebrated such concepts, from the very name of the deck, Italia Nuova ("New Italy") to the choice of peculiar suits and court personages.

ace of Fasci and ace of Anchors

2 of Propellers and 2 of Helmets
The four suit signs are:
  • Fasci - the fascinae lictoriae (bundles of rods with an ax tied to them), which among other symbols of authority taken from ancient Rome's civilization was chosen as the very emblem of the fascist movement;
  • Anchors - symbol of the navy;
  • Helmets - symbol of the land troops;
  • Propellers - symbol of the air forces.

Each ace (see previous picture) features the Italian flag, over which the suit sign appears. Due to the name of the manufacturer and the round space for the tax stamp on the ace of Fasci, this suit should be regarded as the equivalent of Coins in ordinary decks (i.e. the leading suit), although the graphic appearance of these signs seems to have no actual connection with Coins, nor with any of the other traditional suits (Cups, Swords or Batons).
The 4s, instead, have central decorations symbolically recalling the sign.

4 of Fasci with a gladium (roman sword) as
a decoration, and 4 of Anchors featuring a fish

cavaliers (9s) of Anchors, Helmets and Propellers
Court personages for knaves and cavaliers (i.e. values 8 and 9) are young military men in the uniform of the corps to which the suit is dedicated, except for Fasci, featuring two young men dressed as civilians. Knaves stand in front of a rising sun, symbol of Italy's newborn power, while cavaliers, showing a higher military rank (or social level, for the Fasci suit) stand in front of a lion, symbol of strength.
The king (10) of each suit shows a crowned female figure, allegory of Italy, dressed in the national colours and holding the sign of the suit.

the back pattern of the deck

knave (8) of Anchors and king (10) of Propellers

The backs feature an elaborate single-ended picture on plain black background (black was the official colour of fascism), almost a synopsis of symbols celebrated by the deck: a lion lies below a female character (Italy), which holds an anchor and a propeller on one side, and a shield with the Savoy emblem (Italy's royal crest, by those times) on the other side, standing in front of a large fascio, while a rising sun (or a more generic source of light) spreads its rays all around from the back.

The cards have sharp (i.e. non-rounded) corners, in the fashion now obsolete, that Pignalosa maintained for a longer time than other manufacturers.
Due to the composition of the deck (40 cards, values 1 to 7 and three courts) and to the single-ended characters, this non-standard pattern matches the traditional arrangement of playing card patterns from central and southern Italy, in particular the Napoletane), from the same city of Naples where this deck was manufactured.
The only mismatching detail is the index which each card features in the upper left corner, probably added as a visual reminder for players not accustomed to such fancy illustrations.


In **** Dal Negro issued a colourful 40-card edition drawn by Giorgio Ruffolo, an artist who also created a cartomancy tarot for the same manufacturer (see a sample in the relevant page).
The fancy result is reminiscent of the patterns of central-southern Italy, as it has single-headed courts, the lack of indices, standing kings without a throne, etc.

The cards are the same size as the popular Piacentine pattern. However, a few details seem to have been inspired by a different tradition, such as the shape of the Batons, similar to the maces found in early illuminated tarots, or the Cups, covered by a lid, as they rarely do in any Italian pattern. The courts are featured as soldiers wearing a coat of armour. The pips in the suit of Coins bear a cornucopia; the same motif is also found on the aces of the special Canasta deck by Dal Negro (see standard pattern variants).


This special edition is produced by Edicolandia, a small manufacturer from Ascoli Piceno (central Italy), to celebrate a late medieval happening called Quintana, held locally every year, which represents a major tourist attraction.
It comprises several events, all of which held in costume, and with a rather large attendance. It takes place in July, lasting for a certain number of days. The main event is the actual tournament, in which riders on horseback dash along a track, trying to hit with a long spear the shield of a revolving wooden figure, shaped as a Saracen. The competitors are representatives of Ascoli's sestrieri, i.e. the six districts into which the historical city is traditionally divided.

the Quintana deck, by Edicolandia (Italy)

Detailed information and pictures of the happening can be found in the Torneo cavalleresco della Quintana and Giostra della Quintana pages.

the four aces of the Quintana deck
The Quintana deck has 40 cards, arranged in four classic suits, whose signs for Coins and Cups remain within the limits of traditional shapes, while the long suits feature pikes for Swords, and staves, vaguely inspired by the ones found in northern Italian patterns, for Batons.
Another curious difference concerns the unique combination of courts: the knave is missing, replaced by a cavalier (a knight in armour), while a queen ranks second to the king. Also the arrangement of the pips, especially those of the long suits, clearly differs from the one found in traditional decks (in particular from the Piacentine, used more often in Ascoli, as the city does not have a regional pattern). The courts are single-headed; among them, the kings are standing as the ones found in central-southern Italian patterns, what can also be said about the lack of indices.
The graphics of the deck, yet of innovative conception, follows rather sober guidelines (it is interesting how two unusual colours for regional patterns, such as navy blue and cream, extensively used, come together with the more conventional golden yellow and deep red).
Also the four aces (left) follow the same simple design: only a suit sign, without any decoration except the name of the city, repeated on each of the four subjects.

page 1
regional patterns - part I
page 2
regional patterns - part II
page 3
regional patterns - part III
page 4
regional patterns - part IV


actual translation


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