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Fortune-Telling Cards

astrological sphere from Lenthall's Fortune-Telling Cards, c.1714

Fortune-Telling Cards, c.1714

Engraved pack designed for divination, in which every alternate numeral card has an astrological sphere, and the others are filled with fortune-telling answers. The court cards are whole length figures, the Kings and Queens being the same in all four suits, although with different inscriptions. Every card has a ruled off space at the top containing the name of an astrologer, sybil, etc., with a numeral and suitmark to indicate the value. On the Ace of Hearts is Hermes Trismagistus, on the King of Hearts Herod, on the Knave of Spades Wat Tyler and on the Knave of Clubs Hewson, the regicide.

facsimile edition of Lenthall's Fortune-Telling Cards, c.1714

These Fortune-Telling cards, first published as early as 1690, were possibly the first pack of cards ever made specifically for the purpose of fortune-telling. Otherwise, previously, ordinary playing cards would have been used for the purpose.

The system of fortune-telling advocated is complicated, and takes some perseverance to reach an answer to simple questions such as whether the enquirer will be happy, rich or poor in love.

Left: cards from the facsimile edition courtesy Giles de Margary. A modern facsimile of this pack is part of a range published by Harry Margary. Packs can be ordered directly from www.harrymargary.com

Lenthall's Fortune-Telling Cards, c.1714

Above: cards from a genuine copy of the original cards. These cards bear, in addition to the usual suit and number markings, figures and diagrams which can be used for fortune telling. There is a contemporary set of instructions in the use of the cards printed on two of the cards, the second of which has the address “Sold by John Lenthall, Stationer, at the Talbot against St. Dunstan Church, Fleetstreet, London.”


Last Updated May 09, 2016 at 05:45pm

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