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 who promoted theories on divinatory meanings of cards and spreads.
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)
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.
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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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