Unboxing And Walkthrough
by Derek John Thomas
October 29, 2021
One of our backers, Derek John Thomas, posted on his YouTube channel a perfectly lovely unboxing and walk-through video, made a treasure by his deep knowledge of the Visconti-Sforza clan as well as the tarot. I tried to post a comment on YouTube, answering some of his questions, but it mysteriously failed to pass the auto-censor… perhaps it thought I was calling Derek a Fool. Here I bring you Derek’s walk-through video, and my comments:
Right at the top let me say, the Stone Visconti Tarot deck is indeed available for sale on my website at
You noted some variations between my cards and your originals which were simply artistic choices, and some which were due to working from card examples different from your deck. Some, however, were just plain mistakes, and you are so very knowledgeable that I truly wish I had your walk through before I completed the deck. I might have made some choices differently. For example, now perhaps I wish the Hermit had red boots and white stockings, instead of brown, though I chose brown to keep the focus on the face and hourglass.
The Wheel of Fortune banners read “Regnabo” (“I shall reign”), “Regno” (I am reigning), “Regnavi” (I have reigned), and “Sum sine regno” (I am without reign). And the reason Maria has red hair in this card is so it can be seen against the dress of the character behind her, and to center the image, that’s all.
As for the Hanged Man, the blue under his head I believe to be not water, but distant mountains, as seen in a number of cards. For instance, look at The Fool, the blue mountains are quite large, on either side. I also picked out some flecks of a darker color at the bottom of the Hanged Man card, which I interpreted as possible crenellation. You can see similar remnants on many cards, though this is very scant on #12. Again, looking closely at The Fool card, you might see what I mean about dark traces. My versions of these Visconti-Sforza tarots are so much easier to read because I did pick out visual information nearly lost, and interpreted mere traces. I admit I didn’t always get it right, though.
Temperance and the streams of water I believe I did not mistake. The two cards I worked from were both very clear: there is actually no water flowing at all, either between the vessels, or from the vessels to the ground. I, myself, added it most egregiously on my own motion, because it is pretty, and it is the only place in the deck where I did something like this. The patterns on the ground really are just plant life, like so many plants in other cards.
For The Tower, I simply worked from an entirely different original card than the one in your deck, with a round tower and two falling figures.
The King of Coins in the original indeed had a red legging, and I changed it for no good reason but how it looked, I found it overly distracting. Same for the leg colors of the Page of Cups, and a few other body parts in the Minors. As I listen to you now, I ponder the wisdom of some of these changes, but frankly at the time I made little correlation at all to the original colors, I focussed more on the clearly anachronistic relationship of the elements to the suits which we use now in modern tarot, and to making each card look very beautiful, and easily readable. In the court cards, I also wanted more focus on faces than limbs.
The Cups, originally gold, are now silver instead, because gold isn’t in my palette. I had read that the Swords were originally silver, the metal having flaked off leaving a black artifact.
I did make all of the odd swords point upwards, because I found all of them that way, except for the Meneghello three. The Three of Swords was the hardest card in the deck to assemble out of practically nothing, but mine does point up, as an amalgamation of the Meneghello, USG and Dal Negro publications, none of which provided really excellent examples.
About the Batons being sharp: I believe it was in Michael Dummet’s book The Visconti-Sforza Tarot Cards that I read a very interesting description of the Batons having derived from early sports equipment, such as polo sticks and the like, evolving into the double-headed instrument of the early tarot. I find it intriguing that the Queen’s baton has but one head, don’t you?
I seem to have generated many words, but I found your walk-through very stimulating. You clearly know your Visconti Sforza. I thank you so much for liking my work.