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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.

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Cartomancy and Fortune-Telling

54 Articles

Playing cards are used for fortune-telling, predicting the future or even as a psychological adjunct to folk medicine and therapy.

Fortune-Telling Cards

Comic Fortune-Telling Cards published by Reynolds & Sons, c.1850.

Fortune-Telling Cards

Fortune Telling

Fortune Telling cards by Whitman Publishing Co., 1940.

Fortune Telling

La Sibylle des Salons

La Sibylle des Salons facsimile of 19th century deck published by J M Simon, 1979.

La Sibylle des Salons

Le Destin Antique

Le Jeu du Destin Antique, originally published by Grimaud in XIX c., republished many times since...

Le Destin Antique

Playtex

Playtex - le jeu de la beauté et du destin, Grimaud, 1971.

Playtex

El Oráculo de la Bruja

“El Oráculo de la Bruja” fortune-telling cards, 2003.

El Oráculo de la Bruja

Georgian Fortune Telling Cards

Georgian Fortune Telling Cards, c.1800.

Georgian Fortune Telling Cards

Black Cat Fortune Telling Cards

Black Cat Fortune Telling Cards published by Parker Bros, 1897

Black Cat Fortune Telling Cards

Wüst Lenormand deck, c.1860

Wüst Lenormand deck, c.1860

Wüst Lenormand deck, c.1860

Il Destino Svelato Dal Tarocco

The Cagliostro Tarot was first published in 1912 as “Il Destino Svelato Dal Tarocco”.

Il Destino Svelato Dal Tarocco

Le Grand Tarot Belline

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

Le Grand Tarot Belline

Aleister Crowley Tarot – the sombre luminary

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

Aleister Crowley Tarot – the sombre luminary

Cartas Gitanas

The designs of these fortune-telling cards are largely taken from nineteenth century Austrian "Rural Scenes" Tarock cards.

Cartas Gitanas

Nine Lives Tarot

Nine Lives Tarot by Annette Abolins, 2013

Nine Lives Tarot

Housewives Tarot

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

Housewives Tarot

Naipes Tu Destino Cartomancy Cards

“Naipes Tu Destino” Cartomancy Cards from Peru will ease any stress in your interpersonal relationships c.1975.

Naipes Tu Destino Cartomancy Cards

The ‘Mystic’

The ‘Mystic’ Fortune Teller card game by Clifford Toys.

The ‘Mystic’

The Playing Card Oracles

The Picture Book of Ana Cortez is an original work of art designed to facilitate Divination.

The Playing Card Oracles

Tarjetas de la Felicidad

“Tarjetas de la Felicidad” containing positive mental affirmations by Lauro Trevisan, Buenos Aires (Argentina) c.2001

Tarjetas de la Felicidad

Playing Card Oracles - Alchemy Edition

Playing Card Oracles - Alchemy Edition - by Charles J. Freeman and Ana Cortez

Playing Card Oracles - Alchemy Edition

Baraja Cartomántica Chocolates Nelia

Some examples of playing cards made in Catalonia from the collection of Iris Mundus, Barcelona.

Baraja Cartomántica Chocolates Nelia

Austrian Cartomancy Cards

During the 19th century a system of fortune telling arose in Europe using unnumbered, pictorial cards depicting popular imagery with subtitles in several languages.

Austrian Cartomancy Cards

Art Deco Gypsy Oracle

Art Deco fortune telling deck published by Piatnik, 1936.

Art Deco Gypsy Oracle

Hafez Fortune Telling Cards

Fortune Tellers use the Hafez Cards by interpreting the Hāfez poems printed on the card backs when cards are selected randomly by their consultants.

Hafez Fortune Telling Cards

Grand Jeu Lenormand

A pack of 54 playing-cards for fortune-telling each card containing a number of zodiacal, classical and modern images with a miniature card of the conventional type at top left and a letter of the alphabet at top right.

Grand Jeu Lenormand

Cartomancia Astrología Quirologia Tests

A set of rather unusual and non-standard cartomancy cards from Argentina with religious connotations and imaginative artwork

Cartomancia Astrología Quirologia Tests

Kadar Playing Cards

The Kadar deck designed by Christopher J Gould aims to break the norms of playing card design. The vibrant and fun pack has drawn inspiration from travelling fortune tellers and gypsies.

Kadar Playing Cards

The Fortune Teller's Deck

The Fortune Teller’s Deck was published in 1995 in conjunction with a book written by Jane Lyle. The deck was designed by Neil Breeden and the court cards incorporate traditional symbolism.

The Fortune Teller's Deck

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.

Stairs of Gold Tarot

Ye Witches

Ye Witches Fortune Telling Cards published by the United States Playing Card Co., 1896. 52 cards + Joker + extra card in box.

Ye Witches

Wahrsage-Karten

In this version an explanatory verse is printed at the top of each card.

Wahrsage-Karten

Carreras Fortune Telling Cards

Carreras Fortune Telling Cards, 1926

Carreras Fortune Telling Cards

Cartes Lenormand

“Cartes Lenormand” published by H. P. Gibson & Sons Ltd, London, printed in Germany by B. Dondorf, 1920s.

Cartes Lenormand

Fortune Telling Cards

Fortune Telling Cards - wondrous scientific divination poker cards.

Fortune Telling Cards

Buena Suerte Cartomancy

Buena Suerte Cartomancy cards published by Difusora S.A., Argentina, c.1975

Buena Suerte Cartomancy

Buena Suerte Cartomancy leaflet

Buena Suerte Cartomancy leaflet.

Buena Suerte Cartomancy leaflet

Lenormand Cartomancy

Mlle Lenormand Cartomancy deck made by Vereinigte Stralsunder Spielkartenfabriken, Stralsund, c.1890.

Lenormand Cartomancy

Livre du Destin

Livre du Destin / The Book of Fate, c.1900, entire deck (32 cards)

Livre du Destin

Livre du Destin

Livre du Destin or Book of Fate, printed by B.P.Grimaud, Paris, c.1900.

Livre du Destin

Rameses Fortune Telling

The Rameses Fortune Telling Cards were manufactured by Chas. Goodall & Son Ltd, London, c.1910, around the same time as Rameses The Egyptian Wonderworker, was performing.

Rameses Fortune Telling

Geistliche Karten

Geistliche Karten, Augsburg, 1718. Each card carries a text in Gothic typeface giving advice regarding what to do and think each day. Not quite oracle or divination cards, they are more like 'a motto for the day' collection. The method of using the cards is not known.

Geistliche Karten

Baraja de Amor

Hijos de José Garcia Taboadela was a book-seller who also published this charming pack of lovers' fortune telling cards in 1871.

Baraja de Amor

The 72 Names Cards

The 72 Names Cards based on the Kabbalistic "72 Names of God" and the metaphysical artwork of Orna Ben-Shoshan, Raanana, Israel.

The 72 Names Cards

Ramses II tarot

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

Ramses II tarot

Conjuring and Magic

The art of mystifying people is very old indeed. The first conjurers were priests who obtained power over simple minds by performing magical tricks which appeared to have a supernatural origin.

Conjuring and Magic

Significado de los Naipes Españoles

Cartomantic meanings of Spanish playing cards by Benita the Witch (XVI century), published by Chocolates Nelia, c.1932.

Significado de los Naipes Españoles