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Published August 11, 2023 Updated August 16, 2023

Le Nouvel Etteilla

“Le Nouvel Etteilla” cartomancy deck published in Paris by La Veuve Gueffier, 1806.

1806 France Andrinople Veuve Gueffier Cartomancy Etteilla Petit Etteilla Add to Collection

“Le Nouvel Etteilla” cartomancy deck was published in Paris by La Veuve Gueffier in 1806. The interpretations printed around the sides of the 32 playing cards had already been published and discussed by Etteilla in his book “Maniere de se recreer avec un jeu de cartes” in 1770. This was his new method for cartomancy using ordinary playing cards, but the book contained no illustrations of these cards. Packs with this format are believed to have been published since 1791, mostly posthumously after Etteilla’s death, and usually titled “Le Petit Etteilla”. It is not clear why this edition was called “new” unless it was in fact the first one of its kind. Packs continued to be published until c.1900, and even today modern facsimiles are being produced.

The title card shows a sort of alchemist-magician in his laboratory, reading the cards whilst consulting a scroll manuscript lying on the table - possibly the Egyptian Book of Thoth which Etteilla (1738-1791) had been re-interpreting in the latter years of his life. Printed on the two extra cards is "No. 1 Etteilla ou le Questionant". One of these cards also bears the addresses "A Paris chez Mme. Ve. Gueffier Relieuse, rue Galande No.61” and also the address of “Croisey Md. Papetier rue de la Huchette No. 19". Mme Gueffier also published “Le Petit Oracle des Dames” in 1807.

Etteilla’s cartomantic and philosophical writings did meet with some derision from those who denied that future events might be forseen in random images, or who saw themselves as more respectable occult scientists, or freemasons who didn’t do occultism. However his legacy left a strong influence on cartomantic decks for at least a century after his death.

Le Nouvel Etteilla cartomancy deck published in Paris by la Veuve Gueffier, 1806 Le Nouvel Etteilla cartomancy deck published in Paris by la Veuve Gueffier, 1806. © The Trustees of the British Museum Le Nouvel Etteilla cartomancy deck published in Paris by la Veuve Gueffier, 1806. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Above: pack of 32 playing-cards for cartomancy, plus three extra cards, hand-coloured etching, backs plain. Accompanied by book of instructions, published in Paris by la Veuve Gueffier, 1806. © The Trustees of the British Museum • Museum number 1896,0501.709.1-35

Le Nouvel Etteilla cartomancy deck published in Paris by la Veuve Gueffier, 1806. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Above: some excerpts from the booklet accompanying the pack.

References

Etteilla: “Maniere de se recreer avec un jeu de cartes”, Amsterdam & Paris, 1770. Digital copy at Bibliothèque nationale de France

Note: an 1826 edition of “Le petit Etteilla ou l'Art de tirer les cartes d'après les plus célèbres cartomanciers” contains images of the Petit Etteilla cards, as illustrated above, see BnF: Le petit Etteilla, 1826. A much later compilation of “Le petit Etteilla : art de tirer les cartes, Nouvelle édition par Flamand” (1874) is illustrated with standard English cards, not French ones with interpretations around the edges, although p.15 has an image of card "No. 1 Etteilla ou le Questionant". See BnF: Le petit Etteilla

O’Donoghue, Freeman M: Catalogue of the collection of playing cards bequeathed by Lady Charlotte Schreiber, Trustees of the British Museum, London, 1901 (French 56) [digital version here].

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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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