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Published August 12, 2022 Updated August 16, 2023

Nouvel Eteila ou le petit nécromancien

“Nouvel Eteila ou le petit nécromancien” cartomancy cards from France, late 18th century.

1790 France Cartomancy Etteilla Add to Collection

This late 18th century French cartomancy pack has full-length images depicting allegories and human figures. Each card has a title and number at the top whilst miniature playing cards in the bottom right-hand corners (later additions) suggest further possible meanings. Four of these miniature cards carry a text which reads “consultant Etéila” or “consultant pour la reussite Etéila” (Etéila success consultant), presumably referring to the celebrated cartomancer known as Etteilla (1738-1791) who promoted theories on divinatory meanings of cards and spreads.

anonymous cartomancy cards, 36 cards, uncoloured, France, late 18th century. © The Trustees of the British Museum anonymous cartomancy cards, 36 cards, uncoloured, France, late 18th century. © The Trustees of the British Museum anonymous cartomancy cards, 36 cards, uncoloured, France, late 18th century. © The Trustees of the British Museum anonymous cartomancy cards, 36 cards, uncoloured, France, late 18th century. © The Trustees of the British Museum anonymous cartomancy cards, 36 cards, uncoloured, France, late 18th century. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Above: anonymous cartomancy cards, 36 cards, uncoloured, France, originally late 18th century but several further editions over time. © The Trustees of the British Museum • Museum number 1896,0501.714.1-36

Card no.36 (eight of spades) shows the reaper next to Egyptian pyramids. Besides the possible influences from Etteilla and from a fortune-telling pack of 1788, some connection with Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur is also possible.

References & Notes

O’Donoghue, Freeman M: Catalogue of the collection of playing cards bequeathed by Lady Charlotte Schreiber, Trustees of the British Museum, London, 1901 (French 54) [digital version here]

Depaulis, Thierry: Tarot, jeu et magie, exposition catalogue, Bibliothèque nationale, Paris, 1984, cat no.133 shows an earlier edition without the miniature cards in the lower right-hand corners. Discrepancies in the dating of the pack suggest the British Museum copy may be much later than the curator’s estimate. The deck has also been referred to as Petit Necromancien or Nouvel Eteila, published by Mme. Finet. Rue de l’Arbre-sec, No.26, Paris, in the 1820s, suggesting several editions over time.

Nouvel Eteila ou le petit nécromancien cartomancy cards from France, late 18th century

Above: entry 53 from “Catalogue de plusieurs collections d'estampes des écoles française et anglaise du XVIIIe siècle”, published in Paris, 1898, which details an uncut sheet of these 36 cards titled “Le petit oracle des dames, Nouvel Eteila ou le petit nécromancien” with the incorrect spelling of Etteilla's name. Source gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France • Catalogue de plusieurs collections d'estampes des écoles française et anglaise du XVIIIe siècle

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


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