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Queen of Cups, Medieval Scapini, (c) U.S. Games.
Queen of Cups, Medieval Scapini, (c) U.S. Games.

This beautiful, medieval tarot deck comes from a master artist and tarot historian who has restored several fifteenth century tarot decks. In his own deck, Luigi Scapini pulls from the art styles and symbolism of the cards he has worked on to make his own unique deck. It feels medieval, renaissance and late-20th century all at the same time. 

Artwork

The cards are a little longer than standard-sized tarot cards, which is useful to show the detail of Scapini’s work. His illustrations on each card can be extremely dense and detailed. The cards often belie a sense of humor while still remaining very emotional and sometimes dreamlike.

The background of each card is parchment-colored, and there is a subtle gold effect on both the fronts and backs of the cards, though these cards are not “gilded” in the way that many Lo Scarabeo decks are. This makes the cards feel very much like the Visconti and Estensi decks that were popular in Italy in the 1400 and 1500s.

The Knight of Swords from the Medieval Scapini Tarot.
Medieval Scapini, (c) U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

The cards have thin borders on both the fronts and back, but could be trimmed. Unlike many historically-minded, “medieval” tarot decks, all of the pips are fully illustrated. As mentioned above, the imagery on the cards is dense and often non-standard. This is both a blessing and a curse. It adds a uniqueness to the cards and also can create a great deal of intuitive connection. However, many of the images do not fit more standard systems.

I find the backs of the cards particularly beautiful, with their slightly metallic pattern that looks almost like Arabic tile work. The backs feature that slightly metallic gold finish that is also in the background of the face cards. The backs are “almost reversible,” because there is a little bit of aging that can give away card directionality if one looks very closely. 

Content and Feel

The card stock is good and easy to shuffle, even considering the card length being a bit long for my small hands. They have a nice finish that feels good to the touch.

The deck comes in a standard tuck box with a fairly typical LWB. Scapini writes very nicely detailed card descriptions. I found them to be quite interesting and useful. However, this system looks on the surface to be loosely Visconti, but really does not fit any standard system. Given the eccentricities of the cards, I would have liked to see a larger list of keywords for the divinatory meanings and reversal meanings. One spread, the Celtic Cross, is taught at the end of the booklet.

The Nine of Wands from the Medieval Scapini Tarot.
Medieval Scapini, (c) U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Conclusion

This is a great deck for anyone interested in a medieval tarot and in historical art movements. It would also be great for people who like artist driven decks. Due to its unique flavor, I recommend it for intermediate to advanced readers who have already learned and are comfortable with their reading system.

Deck Specs

Name: The Medieval Scapini Tarot
Type: Tarot
System: Other (Loosely Visconti)
Card Number: 78 plus 2 ad cards
Backs: Reversible (See Review)
Card Size: 2.75 x 5.125 in (5.715 x 9.525 cm) 
Box: Tuck
Author: Luigi Scapini
Illustrator: Luigi Scapini 
Publisher: U.S. Games, 2005
Availability: Amazon

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