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Geistliche Karten

Geistliche Karten, Augsburg, 1718. Each card carries a text in Gothic typeface giving advice regarding what to do and think each day. Not quite oracle or divination cards, they are more like 'a motto for the day' collection. The method of using the cards is not known.

Box from Geistliche Karten, Augsburg, 1718

Geistliche Karten, Augsburg, 1718

Religious cards... a motto for the day.

It is, of course, possible to learn about almost anything with the aid of playing cards, and Biblical morality appears to be the subject of this rather rare deck from Germany. At times the Church has been at odd with playing-cards and gambling, but nevertheless this pack would have provided a stimulus for pious thought. The subject-matter is no doubt very interesting, however, there are no pictures or illustrations on the cards to lighten their visual appearance. Instead, we find each card carries a text in a Gothic typeface surrounded by a plain square border, giving advice regarding what to do and think each day. Not quite oracle or divination cards, they are more like 'a motto for the day' collection for Catholics. The method of using the cards is not known. However, illustrated fortune-telling cards were not far away...

Geistliche Karten, Augsburg, 1718

Above: Geistliche Karten, Augsburg, 1718, featuring Biblical advice. The top line on each card is a card value, e.g. 'Hertz 4' is the Four of Hearts. The text always starts with 'Heut' - 'Today'. Each card gives religious advice on what to do today. E. g. one of the cards (Hertz 8) says something like "Today imagine death, you have to die, death is certain and will come soon, do not know today or tomorrow or whether he waits longer. Prepare soon, take the ladder of Christ and climb up to virtue. To achieve this mercy say a Lord's Prayer and an Ave Maria for the soul that does not regard death and doesn't prepare enough for it." Others start "Today imagine hell ...", "Today regard your sins ..." or "Today imagine heavenly joy ..." [Translations by Peter Endebrock.]

See also:   Book of FateBuena Suerte Cartomancy, c.1975Cartas BlancasCartas GitanasCartomancy & Divination CardsEdyta Gdek Tarot17th Century Fortune-Telling Cards72 Names CardsGrapho-DeckJason Ennis TarotMinchiateMlle Lenormand CartomancyMail Artist's Lenormand DeckNaipes Tu DestinoPicture Book of Ana CortezPicture Show Zodiac Fortune Telling CardsRameses Fortune-telling cardsRamses II TarotSelf-Guided TarotSelf-Nurturing SolitaireTarocco BologneseTarocco PiemontesiTaroquis ObeliscoTarot Egipcios KierWelsh TarotTarot

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator 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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