The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published August 17, 2023 Updated August 19, 2023

Costumes des Peuples Étrangers

Costumes des Peuples Étrangers & Jeu d’Or dedicated to young people and likely used for games and fortune-telling.

1820 France Saint-Sauveur Cartomancy Ethnic & Indigenous Fashion & Costume Geography Add to Collection

Two nearly identical decks on The Metropolitan Museum of Art website contain 32 cards each. These decks depict people from Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, showcasing their physical attributes, clothing, and common demeanours. Additionally, both sets include elements for fortune-telling and share nearly identical designs, typography, and layouts. These decks align with the late 18th-century French trend of cartomancy cards, influenced by the contributions of Etteilla, his peers, and their successors.

The cards also allude to the “Four Continents” theme inspired by Europe's increasing exploration, trade, and colonization of various parts of the world. The illustrations arouse fascination with exotic and unfamiliar locations from the four corners of the world. The topic had given rise to a book publishing industry specialising in accounts of voyages to remote parts of the world, the peoples, different religions, forms of government and ways of life encountered. Several such books had been produced with the collaboration of Jacques Grasset Saint-Sauveur (1757-1810), a former diplomat, traveller and writer who is also known to have been part of the cartomancy scene and whose work probably inspired these cards.

Jeu d’Or

This pack contains 4 allegories of the four continets - Africa, America, Asia & Europe - along with 28 cards representing inhabitants from different countries. The cards have their number and titles at the bottom, while at the tops and down the sides are printed in French fortune-telling questions (D) and responses (R), such as: “Tell me frankly am I good in your eyes?”, “Can I be quiet alas! when my heart sighs?” or “What would you do if I said yes to you?” The answers appear to be found on different cards, perhaps those which turn up next in the reading: “What do you think?”, “It is not for me to answer you”or “Will you be constant?”. A small miniature playing card in the bottom right-hand corner gives additional value to each card. However, the card numbers are not consecutive and run as high as 40, suggesting this is not a complete set (missing 8 cards, or the 8 green-tinted cards from the ‘Costumes des Peuples Étrangers’ (below) belonged with this set).

Jeu d'Or playing cards. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art Jeu d'Or playing cards. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art Jeu d'Or playing cards. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art Jeu d'Or playing cards. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art Jeu d'Or playing cards. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Above: Jeu d'Or playing cards, 32-cards, anonymous manufacturer, late 18th or early 19th century French, etching and hand colouring (watercolour). © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved. Accession Number: 59.654.14


Costumes des Peuples Étrangers - Jeu divinatoire géographique

'Composées de tous les Costumes des peuples étrangers avec de jolies devises et bons mots.
Dediées aux Jeunes Gens; Je me fixe a la plus belle / Imitez moi'

The set contains 32 cards depicting clothing and costumes from various geographic regions: 4 ‘Continent’ cards and 4 ‘Virtue’ cards; the remaining 24 cards have what resemble fortune-telling or love-motto questions (D) and answers (R), as in the Jeu d'Or (above). In the bottom right-hand corner can be found a reversed miniature playing card with a keyword suggesting an outcome, such as Departure, Grief or Desire.

Although some of the characterisations may be seen as Orientalist or colonial, overall the images and quotes give a sense of well-being, innate moral sense, noble spirit and happiness which enhance their educational value. The four virtue cards further endorse this.

The Madagascans from Costumes Civils actuels de tous les Peuples connus, planches dessinées par Desrais et par Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, Paris, 1784-1788

Above from “Costumes Civils actuels de tous les Peuples connus”, artwork by Desrais and Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, Paris, 1784-1788.

Costumes des Peuples Étrangers playing cards, anonymous manufacturer, late 18th or early 19th century French. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costumes des Peuples Étrangers playing cards, anonymous manufacturer, late 18th or early 19th century French. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costumes des Peuples Étrangers playing cards, anonymous manufacturer, late 18th or early 19th century French. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costumes des Peuples Étrangers playing cards, anonymous manufacturer, late 18th or early 19th century French. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Above: "Costumes des Peuples Étrangers" playing cards, 32-cards, anonymous manufacturer, late 18th or early 19th century French, etching and hand colouring (watercolour). © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved. Accession Number: 59.654.17

The four virtue cards have resemblances to other French cartomancy cards from late 18th / early 19th centuries.

Further References

Saint-Sauveur, Maréchal, et al., Pavard, Paris, 1788 (view 83): Costumes Civils actuels de tous les Peuples connus

Saint-Sauveur, Paris, 1797 (view 83): Tableaux des principaux peuples de l'Europe, de l'Asie, de l'Afrique, de l'Amérique, etc

Tarot Forum: Etteilla Timeline and Etteilla card Variants

Sisonke Msimang: “My four-year-old daughter is asking questions about colonial history. How do I respond in an age-appropriate way?” in The Guardian Fri 18 Aug 2023

avatar
1440 Articles

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.


Related Articles

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

A limited edition art print of the 1984 woodblock joker.

1985 Atout Cœur!

Atout Cœur!

Poster designs by children for an anti-smoking campaign in the Midi-Pyrenées region of France.

1985 Victor Hugo 1885-1985

Victor Hugo 1885-1985

Characters from novels by Victor Hugo marking the centenary of his death, as conceived by Dominique...

1985 Victor Hugo “L’homme qui rit”

Victor Hugo “L’homme qui rit”

Two different packs with costume designs for Victor Hugo plays, issued on the centenary of his deat...

2017 Les Beaux Étés

Les Beaux Étés

Comic book characters who lead mundane lives, with designs by Jordi Lafebre.

1770 Cartes enfantines

Cartes enfantines

Miniature 18th century Paris pattern cards for children, with decorated aces and 2s.

1975 Poker Lusso

Poker Lusso

Richly costumed courts on a luxury poker pack from Masenghini.

2013 Les plaques émaillées d’Antoine Vollon

Les plaques émaillées d’Antoine Vollon

54 different enamel plaques depicting silk manufacture, by the Lyon artist Antoine Vollon.

1984 Le Jeu des Musiciens

Le Jeu des Musiciens

Artist Silvia Maddonni’s gently humorous take on musicians and their instruments.

1995 Les Saints Guérisseurs et Protecteurs

Les Saints Guérisseurs et Protecteurs

Healing and patron saints portrayed in paintings, manuscripts, altarpieces and statuary.

2001 Kuzco, l’empereur mégalo

Kuzco, l’empereur mégalo

Notched cards featuring toys representing characters from the Disney film Kuzco, as offered by McDon...

1991 Costume Playing Cards

Costume Playing Cards

Four centuries of costumes from the Costume Court at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

1964 Monuments de Paris

Monuments de Paris

‘Monuments de Paris’ souvenir playing cards produced by Heraclio Fournier, c.1964.

1988 Lorilleux International

Lorilleux International

Promotional pack for Lorilleux International’s Lotus inks, with designs by James Hodges.

2021 Les Tontons du Rock

Les Tontons du Rock

Caricatures of rock and pop stars in black and white by Charles Da Costa.

1745 Burgundy pattern

Burgundy pattern

The old Burgundy (or Burgundian) pattern by Nicolas Chenevet, Dijon.

1980 Zodiaque

Zodiaque

“Les Signes du Zodiaque” playing cards designed by Youdi des Aubrys.

1981 British Monarchs

British Monarchs

Commemorating the royal wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer on the 29th

1991 54 Affiches Retro

54 Affiches Retro

54 different old French advertising posters, mainly for travel and health products.

1989 Il Vostro Destino

Il Vostro Destino

Italian fortune-telling pack produced by Viassone and later by Masenghini.

1980 Jeu de la Belle Epoque

Jeu de la Belle Epoque

Jeu de la Belle Epoque, remembering a golden age of optimism, progress and elegance.

1985 Paco Lobo

Paco Lobo

Highly original and striking designs by Paco Lobo for the fashion house of the same name.

1985 Correspondances

Correspondances

‘Correspondances’ depicting the 52 transfer stations of the Paris Métropolitain, France, 1985.

1970 Loewe: Moda Europea Siglo XVII

Loewe: Moda Europea Siglo XVII

Luxury pack for the Spanish fashion house Loewe, with 17th century costume designs by Margot Hamilto...

1987 Jeu Gothique

Jeu Gothique

‘Jeu Gothique’ illustrating the Gothic period in France, published by Editions Dusserre.

1978 Jeu Bonaparte

Jeu Bonaparte

Jeu Bonaparte depicting the extended family of Napoleon Bonaparte, France, 1978

1989 Jeu du Bicentenaire de la Révolution Française

Jeu du Bicentenaire de la Révolution Française

Pack created by Yannick Pennanguer commemorating the bicentenary of the French Revolution and the ce...

1988 Jeu des Bonnets Phrygiens

Jeu des Bonnets Phrygiens

Reproduction of Jeu des Bonnets Phrygiens relating to the Phrygian cap (or liberty cap), France, 198...

Le jeu des 7 Familles ’Utuafare

Le jeu des 7 Familles ’Utuafare

Colourful Happy Families game from Tahiti depicting costumes from different archipelagoes.

1977 Jeu de la V<sup>me</sup>

Jeu de la Vme

A political pack designed by Pino Zac and published in 1977 by Editions Arts et Lettres.

1983 Jeu des Médecins

Jeu des Médecins

Cartoons of doctors and nurses by Pino Zac, published by B.P. Grimaud in 1983.

1962 Jeu Boléro

Jeu Boléro

Sweeping, semi-abstract designs by J.L. Jolin in red and black only.

1976 Le Giscarte

Le Giscarte

Le Giscarte political playing cards designed by Eddy Munerol, France, 1976.

1968 Knoll International

Knoll International

Geometric designs by the French artist Jean Garçon for Knoll International, the furniture company.

1960 Cartes à Jouer Fluorescentes

Cartes à Jouer Fluorescentes

Standard French cards but printed with fluorescent inks on a black background.

2016 Tuxedo playing cards

Tuxedo playing cards

Stylish ‘Tuxedo’ playing cards with animal faces created by Natalia Silva, USA, 2016.

1980 SEMP playing cards

SEMP playing cards

Modified Anglo-American courts advertising a French medical publishing company.

1997 Claude Weisbuch

Claude Weisbuch

Free reinterpretation of the traditional Paris pattern courts by the artist Claude Weisbuch.

1985 Hôtels-Grils Campanile

Hôtels-Grils Campanile

Publicity pack for the Campanile hotel and restaurant chain featuring French provincial costumes, wi...

Mohegan Sun playing cards

Mohegan Sun playing cards

Mohegan Sun playing cards published by Gemaco for Mohegan Sun casino.

Fate fortune telling cards

Fate fortune telling cards

Fate fortune telling cards published by Merrimack Publishing Corporation, USA.