Originally Posted by Moonbow*
could we have suggestions from those who study the history of Tarot as to what is considered essential or helpful reading.
Firstly, could we share links on where to read this information, assuming that there are websites available, and secondly, could we give opinions on what to read first and why. There are links all over Aeclectic but condensing them into one thread would be useful.
I think this is a good suggestion. A lot of people want to know how to get their head around it all.
Resources on the www can be a good and sound place to start, if the study is organized correctly for historical purposes. The links Robert gave to the tarotpedia.com site are all excellent. They can be overwhelming however, and while all are the work of experts, few give a "bare-bones" list of essential data to know for the study of tarot.
The three sets of facts that need to have an overview (at least) memorized first are the "three C's" - chronology, category, and characters.
1. The chronology consists of the dates of important facts in the development of tarot.
The best graphic depiction is Tom Tadfor Little's "Classification of Tarot Designs" -
More advanced, with links, Trionfi.com's "Timeline Playing Card and Tarot History" -
(this page is also a good guide to an otherwise very difficult site)
2. "Category" means the type or family of tarot pack.
Tom is good again, "The Early Ordering of the Trumps" -
Andy Pollett gives an illustrated and informed discussion at his site -
Michael Hurst presents a good discussion of some of the implications of these different categories at "The Riddle of Tarot" -
3. "Characters" means significant persons in the history. This is often the most interesting part of the study, at least for interpreting the meaning of the early surviving cards.
You can find out a lot about individuals and families like the Este, Visconti and Sforza on the internet, but the only pages that focus on their relationship to tarot are on trionfi.com -
and see also, for a detailed chronology of the earliest evidence with links -
Follow up with these the discussions of the various cities in their relation to tarot as well (Milan, Ferrara, Bologna, Florence etc.), all except Bologna here -
(hint - when using trionfi.com, the left-hand frame is often the best navigator for significant characters or dates to follow up on. It is purely chronological, although of course it leads to a maze of data arranged in different ways).