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Published August 13, 2022 Updated August 16, 2023

Petit Etteilla cartomancy cards

“Petit Etteilla” cartomancy cards designed and published by Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, Paris c.1796

1796 France Saint-Sauveur Cartomancy Etteilla Petit Etteilla Add to Collection

This early edition of what became known as “Petit Etteilla” cartomancy cards was produced by Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, rue Nicaise, maison de la Section des Tuileries, Paris. The name and address is given on the extra card titled “No.1 Etteilla ou le Questionant”. The British Museum gives the date variously as ‘circa 1789-1804’ & ‘1800 (circa)’ but also there is a curator's comment “that it was made during the period surrounding the Revolutionary War is evident by St Sauveur's title of 'Citizen'”. The war began in 1792 after the French Revolution had resulted in the overthrow of the monarchy and the rise of radical political forces in France.

“Petit Etteilla” cartomancy cards produced by Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, Paris c.1796. © The Trustees of the British Museum “Petit Etteilla” cartomancy cards produced by Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, Paris c.1796. © The Trustees of the British Museum “Petit Etteilla” cartomancy cards produced by Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, Paris c.1796. © The Trustees of the British Museum “Petit Etteilla” cartomancy cards produced by Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, Paris c.1796. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Above: “Petit Etteilla” cartomancy cards produced by Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur, Paris c.1796. Later copies were published by Gueffier & then Peytieux (and various others throughout the 19th century). Hand-coloured etching, plain backs. The ace of diamonds is missing from this pack. © The Trustees of the British Museum • Museum number 1896,0501.715.1-32

Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur (French, Montréal 1757–1810 Paris) was born in Montreal; his family fled to France when Canada was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1764. Educated in Paris, he became a diplomat, serving as French Vice-consul in Hungary and Consul in Cairo. His output ranged from novels, to ethnographic records of the costumes, cultures and habits of the people of the world. He later became a workshop director in Paris involved in the publication of literary books and prints on military, social, historical and allegorical subjects. He worked on commissions in conjunction with other skilled engravers, draughtsmen and illustrators. As can be seen in this pack of cards from his workshop, the typography is neat and skillful, and the illustrations of playing cards beautifully executed (possibly by L. F. Labrousse who worked for St.Sauveur). We might even speculate that Saint-Sauveur had been a personal friend, acquaintance or student of Etteilla (1738-1791) and was here re-issuing Etteilla's original edition of 1791.

References

O’Donoghue, Freeman M: Catalogue of the collection of playing cards bequeathed by Lady Charlotte Schreiber, Trustees of the British Museum, London, 1901 (French 59) [digital version here]

Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur: BnF: Tableaux des principaux peuples de l'Europe, de l'Asie, de l'Afrique, de l'Amérique, etc • more on gallica.bnf.fr • Metropolitan Museum of Art: search results for Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur

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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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