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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

Bourgeois Tarot by Piatnik 1987

Piatnik’s ‘Bourgeois Tarot’ in a version published in 1987 with nice quality images, especially the double-ended trump cards.

Piatnik’s take on “Bourgeois Tarot”, also known as “French Tarot Nouveau”, in a version published in 1987 with charming images on the double-ended trump cards. This pattern originated in the second half of 19th century with C.L. Wüst of Frankfurt [see here] by which time it was permissible to use almost any series of pictures for the trumps. It is produced by several manufacturers today. The trumps here depict scenes of early 19th-century social and rural activities of the well-to-do European middle classes. There is an ornamental panel at the top and bottom of each trump card with the number in Arabic figures in the blank area. The game is not intended for fortune-telling which is why there is no ‘right-way up’ for the cards.

Bourgeois Tarot by Piatnik 1987

Above: the 22nd trump, the un-numbered mandolin player is known as “The Excuse” or “The Mandolin” or “The Fool” and is a wildcard which may be played in place of any other card (effectively he is the equivalent of a Joker).

The 16 Court Cards

The 16 court cards from Bourgeois Tarot by Piatnik 1987

Above: French-suited “Bourgeois Tarot” by Piatnik 1987. 78 cards, plus rules leaflet (in French). Images courtesy Matt Probert.

REFERENCES

Wikipedia: Tarot Nouveau

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By Matt Probert

Member since March 02, 2012

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I have adored playing cards since before I was seven years old, and was brought up on packs of Waddington's No 1. As a child I was fascinated by the pictures of the court cards.

Over the next fifty years I was seduced by the artwork in Piatnik's packs and became a collector of playing cards.

Seeking more information about various unidentified packs I discovered the World of Playing Cards website and became an enthusiastic contributor researching and documenting different packs of cards.

I describe my self as a playing card archaeologist, using detective work to identify and date obscure packs of cards discovered in old houses, flea markets and car boot sales.

Recommended

Egyptian Tarot

Egyptian Tarot

Egyptian Tarot published by Naipes La Banca, Buenos Aires, c.1980.

Iohann Christoph Hes Tarot c.1750

Iohann Christoph Hes Tarot c.1750

Facsimile of Tarot de Marseille by Iohann Christoph Hes, Augsburg, c.1750.

Bharata Major Arcana Tarot

Bharata Major Arcana Tarot

Bharata Major Arcana Tarot by Ishan Trivedi & Sunish Chabba, 2018. Inspired by Indian art forms.

Tarocchini Bolognesi by Carlo Zanardi

Tarocchini Bolognesi by Carlo Zanardi

Tarocchini Bolognesi by Carlo Zanardi, c.1850

Bourgeois Tarot by Piatnik 1987

Bourgeois Tarot by Piatnik 1987

Piatnik’s ‘Bourgeois Tarot’ in a version published in 1987 with nice quality images, especially the double-ended trump cards.

V. F. Solesio Tarot

V. F. Solesio Tarot

V. F. Solesio Tarot, Genoa, mid-late 19th century

Rolla Nordic Tarot

Rolla Nordic Tarot

Rolla Nordic Tarot was drawn by Paul Mathison.

Le Grand Tarot Belline

Le Grand Tarot Belline

“Le Grand Tarot Belline” after drawings by Edmond Billaudot (1829-1881).

Tarocchi di Mantegna, c.1465

Tarocchi di Mantegna, c.1465

The so-called Tarocchi di Mantegna (c.1465) reflect an ideological structure bringing to mind the soul's progress towards perfection.

Aleister Crowley Tarot – the sombre luminary

Aleister Crowley Tarot – the sombre luminary

Aleister Crowley Tarot - Crowley and Lady Freda Harris worked on the illustrations between 1938 and 1943

Perspectives on Tarot

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Tarot, originally a 15th century card game from Italy, has evolved into a form of personal mysticism and spirituality.

Sola-Busca Tarocchi

Sola-Busca Tarocchi

The Sola-Busca Tarocchi, c.1491

Nine Lives Tarot

Nine Lives Tarot

Nine Lives Tarot by Annette Abolins, 2013

Housewives Tarot

Housewives Tarot

The ‘Housewives Tarot’ designed by Paul Kepple & Jude Buffum, published by Quirk Books, 2004.

Héron French tarot

Héron French tarot

French edition of the ‘Bourgeois’ Tarot by Héron

Tarot des Pompiers de Paris

Tarot des Pompiers de Paris

Tarot des Pompiers de Paris, a French Fire Brigade tribute tarot deck

Vergnano Tarot 1826-1851

Vergnano Tarot 1826-1851

Stefano Vergnano’s Tarot and playing card factory holds a special place in the history of the Tarot.

Tarot of Musterberg

Tarot of Musterberg

Designed by Cesare Asaro to simulate decks from the 1700s or earlier, the Tarot of Musterberg is based on the traditional Tarot de Marseille but with an imaginary historical background.

Tarocco Siciliano

Tarocco Siciliano

The highly individual Sicilian Tarot has the Italo-Portuguese suit system with straight, interlocking swords and batons, and maids instead of jacks

Wüst “Encyclopedic Tarot”

Wüst “Encyclopedic Tarot”

“Encyclopedic Tarot” by C. L. Wüst with “bourgeois” views of life on the Trumps.

Vandenborre Tarot

Vandenborre Tarot

Belgian Tarot published by François-Jean Vandenborre, Brussels (1762-1803)

Oliver Mundy tarot

Oliver Mundy tarot

Original Tarot designs in Italian Renaissance style by Oliver Mundy.

Charles Cheminade Tarot

Charles Cheminade Tarot

Marseille Tarot cards by Charles Cheminade of Grenoble, France, early 18th century.

OCCO Game of Tarot

OCCO Game of Tarot

Scott Hill has been working on a tarot pack which can also be used to play card games, the pack has been designed to revive tarot and make it a fun and social interaction.

Rider Waite Tarot - details compared

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After the first edition of the Rider-Waite tarot in 1909 four further editions were published till approx 1940. These differ in several attributes: outline artwork, colours, lettering and card thickness.

Rider Waite Tarot early editions

Rider Waite Tarot early editions

Rider Waite Tarot early editions

Rider-Waite Tarot

Rider-Waite Tarot

The Rider Waite Tarot was created at the beginning of the 20th century by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith.

Serravalle-Sesia Tarot

Serravalle-Sesia Tarot

Serravalle-Sesia Tarot published by Fratelli Avondo, c.1880.

Inner Realms Tarot

Inner Realms Tarot

Inner Realms was conceived from sacred geometry that inspired me to create and then pick out pieces of that design that amazed me, or inspired me to create another design...

Watersprite tarot

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Épinal Tarot

Épinal Tarot

The woodcuts were produced by Francois Georgin (1801-1863), a famous engraver during the Napoleonic period, retaining the composition and general features of the Tarot de Marseille.

Stairs of Gold Tarot

Stairs of Gold Tarot

Whilst the titles of the cards are in Italian, the Hebrew and Sanskrit letters on the Trump cards denote, respectively, associations with the Cabbala and Vedic metaphysics.

Mitelli Tarocchini

Mitelli Tarocchini

The title refers to “a new form of Tarocchini”. Mitelli's designs are to a high standard of artistic quality and a complete departure from the old tradition, especially the 22 Trump cards which are unnamed and unnumbered.

Insight Institute

Insight Institute

During the late 1940s and 1950s The Insight Institute, of New Malden in Surrey, ran correspondence courses on the Tarot, which consisted of lessons with homework which was checked by tutors as well as a set of 'Authenticated' Tarot cards.

Alison McDonald

Alison McDonald

Artwork for The Watersprite Tarot© designed and painted by Alison McDonald.

Russell Grant tarot

Russell Grant tarot

Russell Grant astro-tarot

Bourgeois Tarot

Bourgeois Tarot

Bourgeois Tarot by Vereinigte Altenburger und Stralsunder Spielkarten-Fabriken.

Ramses II tarot

Ramses II tarot

Ramses II Tarot deck was published c.1975 in conjunction with a Peruvian occult or esoteric magazine.

Taroquis ‘Obelisco’

Taroquis ‘Obelisco’

78-card 'Taroquis Marca Obelisco' published by Mario Colombo, Buenos Aires, during the 1950s, 60s & 70s, in the style known as "Tarocco Piemontese" which had been developed by Italian cardmakers during the nineteenth century.

Tarocco Piedmontese by Fabrica de Naipes La Primitiva, Bs Aires

Tarocco Piedmontese by Fabrica de Naipes La Primitiva, Bs Aires

Tarocco Piedmontese by Fabrica de Naipes La Primitiva, Defensa 125, Buenos Aires c.1890.