I think it's interesting that the same printer/publisher created this deck, and then followed up with the Soprafino a few years later. It seems he had an idea to produce a high standard of art, and actually followed through and implemented it. I wonder how well he did in the marketplace?
In both cases, he was not content to stick to the familiar, and cheaper to produce woodblocks, though he did produce a simpler version of the Neoclassical in woodblock form as well. (I don't believe it's been done as a reprint, so it's not so well known.) I assume he sold it for a much lower price. So, perhaps in a sense this is the first premium "art deck"?
Here is what I have noticed about the signature on the Ace of Cups:
My copy has "Gumppenberg / Fabricatore in Milano" as the signature.
I believe the Lo Scarabeo reprint also has this same sig.
The Il Meneghello reprint, and the Kaplan version (Illustrated in both the Encyclopedia Vol II and the Christie's 6-21-06 catalog) both have "Fabbricatore / Gumppenberg" as the signature.
In looking at them, I believe mine is the older version, because both the italic slant and the character of the script better match the rest of the deck. This suggests everything was done at the same time. The Il Meneghello/Kaplan script is at a slightly different angle, and of a slightly different character that does not match the other text in the deck. It is also placed slightly crooked, and the decenders of the "p's" actually run into the border art. All of this suggests that it was added later, by a different hand.
In all versions, I can see several small pits in the plate that have left small dots in the background, so it is almost certainly the same master plate that is used for both editions. (Only the signature area differs.)
It is possible to fill or rub out an area on an engraved plate, and then re-engrave it anew. So it appears that he wanted to remove the "Milano" from the deck at a later date. I'm sure there's some logical, historical reason for this, but I haven't found any explanation yet.
I also noticed that Kaplan's copy, with the altered signature, has blue backs, instead of red.
So far I haven't found any discussion or mention of multiple editions of this deck. The tax stamp is the same, so they all would appear to date from the same general time, but there were obviously multiple printings over the active time period.
One of these days I'll have to get the reprints in order to compare the variations in color application. Generally, they appear pretty similar, but even by looking at just a few online scans, I can see that there are probably a lot of differences in the details. I'm curious to see if stencils were used, or if it is all done by hand.
This proves how much we can learn from actual artists. I would never imagine such a story as a new signature plate, much less correlating at such a level of detail. I'd love to see a super blow-up of the area in question. I have the Il Men. copy from 2003 myself....
I truly enjoyed comparing these with my Il Solleone reproductions
I have a few Il Solleone reproductions done on linen stock and I enjoyed comparing the versions posted with these reproductions.
Thank you for your delightful scans and sharing.
The earliest Lo Scarabeo reproduction of the di Gumppenberg to 1812 had the smaller playing card size and red-flower backs and bright light yellow...I'm starting to prefer the bright yellow version again.
I've posted the di Gumppenberg publisher timeline before and the Aleph Tarot site, where you can see all the Il Solleone reproduction cards...I would say that hands down, the beautiful real deck Mr. OnePotato posted is the best and most gorgeous of all the decks!
But here's the Aleph Tarot site--the card 'divination' seems to be a modern thing, as the deck was originally a beautiful gaming deck.
Because the della Rocca and Lamperti contributions seem to have come in the later decks, I was thinking that the di Gumppenberg 1812 was one of the most delicate and beautiful reflections of neoclassical designs in Napoleonic times...and ironically and so quickly outmoded... because it was printed around the time that Milan and the Iron Crown of Lombardy was going to be 'under' Napoleon's new infant son--but the son never ruled, the new queen retired to become the Duchess of Parma and Napoleon was banished to distant desert islands soon after...
May your treasure--all 77 cards to behold--be enjoyed for many years to come!
These notes below are probably faulty, taken from bits and pieces of the Il Solleone newsprint foldouts and beginning to be supplemented by the Lo Scarabeo book on the Ancient Tarots of Lombardy or (Neoclassical 1810) with Giordano Berti/Marisa Chiesa...I'll add more, correct and revise based on comments. Di Gumppenberg biographical notes
From the Trade Sites of Milan from Il Solleone
Di Gumppenberg highlights - I notice Il Solleone prints the name as follows:
Born Jan 3, 1788 from Franco and Caterina Sala. It says born to Monaco of Baveria, Monoco being a city-state, Baveria being the country in 1788?
1805-1809--Apprenticed in the art of cards press (printers) in the important Fabbicante di Monaco
1809--Enlightenment, the Regia Fabbrica (regional maker?) of the cards transfers to Milan---I believe this is within Napoleon's reign, near the end.
Cerulean Mari's note: I also believe that one of the historical events that might have influenced the making of the Neoclassical of 1811 might have been the birth of Napoleon's son in March of 1811, known as the "King of Rome" and crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy.* (Di Gumppenberg did issue a later deck in celebration of Emporer Ferdinand)
1809-1814 Produces numerous original cards.
1810, 1811 "Tarocco Neoclassico Italiano," Milano - (Note Kaplan suggests 1806 or thereabouts in dating). My copy is reprinted in 1980 in an edition of 1,500.
1812 Marries Marianna Pohl
1814 Liquidation of the Regia Fabbrica di Milano.
Cerulean Mari's note: Possibly this means that the card-making is no longer controlled regionally or restricted or the designation from Napoleon's 'restriction' was lifted and now competition from other Milanese cardmakers
1814, July--Gumppenberg initiates activity near the Giardino (either the garden district?)
1816? I have to translate this note*
1820 - note related to the bottega di Caffe in Borgo di Cittadella
1820 "Il Dilettevole Giuoco del Cucco,"41 cards, stamped 1820, to 1846. Il Solleone published 1,500 copies in 1981. (Cerulean has never seen this set*).
1820-25--produces "Tarocco Vedute e Meistieri de Milano"...alternative name of Trade Sites of Milan Tarocco?
Il Solleone published 1000 copies in 1982.
1825 --Printer negotiates in Corsia del Giadino "sono in vendita anche biglietti della Lotteria"...
1835 (1830-45)--"Tarocchino Lombardo".
Il Solleone's note: engraved by Carlo Dellarocca around 1835, and then the Italian note"...dal Gumppenberg, dal Lamperti e altri in Milano e Lombardia"--note correction below on Lamperti note in 1847. Lamperti is his son-in-law.
Il Solleone published their version of the Dellarocca designs in in 1981 in a limited edition of 2,000. There is another version by Lo Scarabeo, I believe.
We know this title as the Tarocco Italiano Soprafino with engravings by Carlo della Rocca.
Given this information, the mysterious beautiful additions to the Dellarocca designs might have been innovations by Lamperti and Dellarocca?
1838-40 Produces "Tarocco Della Corona Ferrea"
Iron Crown of Lombardy Tarocco * from Edizioni del Solleone, reprinted 2,500 copies, 1979.
1847-He concedes the printmaking in general to Lattanzio Lamperti, the spouse of his daughter Paola.
(R. Somerville had an old link to 22 card mignon Tarocco from Lo Scarabeo, but it's no longer available).
1855- Dies after 67 years.
*A quick translation. Any input appreciated, I'll correct later. I'm still gathering references, which includes the Lo Scarabeo book, and a catalog from the defunct publishing house of Solleone, edited by Vito Arienti.
Which edition are you refering to receiving? The Meneghello edition of this isn't at all difficult to shuffle. It is one of the most shufflable decks there is. And just exquisite... Like miniature, 19th Century watercolours...