Italian Vintage: The Crippa Tarot
I learned about Il Meneghello, a beautiful tarot shop in Milan, through one of Patrick's videos from his In the 78 Cards channel. The charming store is known for its handmade decks, many of which are based on restored decks from centuries ago. The craftsman behind the shop's beautiful collection is Osvaldo Menegazzi, whose eye for detail is absolutely impeccable.
Since I learned about this store, I've been going back and forth its website, trying to scope out its decks for something I could be interested in. And while the medieval and historical decks are beautiful, there wasn't really anything that caught my eye… until January this year rolled in and on the homepage, was the limited edition Crippa Tarot.
As soon as I saw this deck, I knew it would be the one I'd be purchasing from Il Meneghello. It's nothing like the antiquarian decks Osvaldo is known for, but this one has ME written all over it. First off, the deck is based off artwork created in 1978… I was born the year after so I immediately felt a strong connection to this deck. This is exactly the kind of art I grew up with, as my parents were big collectors of local and contemporary paintings, so the nostalgia factor was strong.
Second, the Crippa was a pip deck, which I was already in the market for. Most of my decks were scenic, RWS-based creations and that was a conscious decision because I just thought them to be more interesting and easier to read. I always, for example, was intrigued by the Nomad Tarot, but as soon as I saw that it was a pip deck, I was just turned off altogether. But since Kelly over at The Truth in Story began praising the virtues of pip decks and numerology, my interest was peaked and I wanted to add at least one number-based deck to my collection to round it out.
Buying decks from Il Meneghello isn't cheap, especially when you have them shipped all the way to Manila. The deck itself is € 45 plus shipping and handling! If you're the type of collector, however, who puts a lot of stock in quality, then the Crippa is worth every penny. It comes in a sturdy two-piece box, which has a soft textured interior base, a beautiful wax seal on its lid that goes along with the Wheel of Fortune card as its cover.
There are only 700 pieces made of this deck, hence my sense of urgency (!). The cards are also smaller than your regular tarot sized card—they're more like your regular playing cards which makes them very easy to handle. The stock is smooth and thin enough to give you a perfect riffle shuffle. I'm trying to stop myself from doing the shuffle and bridge too much though, just because I want to make sure I keep the integrity and quality of the deck well preserved! (OCD kicking in…)
I love the Aces of this deck. They're clear and no-nonsense, like most Marseille decks are. The sparse color palette against the slightly cream-colored background is fun; and I also like how there's a general unevenness among the cards. You'll see above that the Ace of Pentacles is on a slightly darker, more yellow type of paper which makes it stand out (that's okay with me because I do love my Pentacles!). Another standout detail is Crippa's signature.
Instead of the pips being depicted as five swords or nine wands, for example, the Crippa uses typography to designate the numbers within each suit. I am a type nerd and studied it for two semesters so I have a soft spot for hand-drawn lettering. I like this style too because it keeps any confusion at bay… reading Marseille-style cards can get very confusing, for example. For one, I get the wands and swords confused all the time; second, in decks like the Thoth, I sometimes have to manually count the number of the illustrated pips just to make sure I'm reading the right thing.
Another one of my favorite aspects of this deck are the courts. Their deadpan faces are quirky and quite humorous; and they also remind me of classic Sesame Street drawings from the '70s and '80s.
This whole deck has me singing the 1-2-3-4-5 6-7-8-9-10 11-12 song in my head! :)
The Major Arcana doesn't skip out on the essential elements we look for in a deck. I love the transition from the star to the moon and to the sun, in particular. The illustrations are friendly (nothing foreboding or unnecessarily creepy about the moon, for example) and I feel that they go perfectly with the optimism and positivity I like to pepper my readings with. They read a lot like the storybooks I used to have when I was a kid, which makes crafting stories through readings seamless and effortless.
All in all, I'm happy that I spotted this deck on one of my Il Meneghello site visits. I'm stalking the site again for the Corte dei Tarocchi, but I've gone two months without buying any decks and I don't want to break my no-buy streak just yet. ;) That said, this medieval deck is permanently bookmarked. I'm also making my way out to Europe a few months from now and if things work out, I may actually be able to visit Milan, so I'm thinking about saving this purchase for an in-person trip to the store! *fingers crossed*
In the meantime, I have my portable, fun, whimsical Crippa to play with. If you've been resonating with my deck preferences, this is one you ought to check out.