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Published October 29, 2023 Updated October 29, 2023

French Cartomancy cards, c.1830

French Cartomancy cards published by J. Gaudais; printed by Mansion, Paris, c.1830.

1830 France Gaudais Mansion Cartomancy Add to Collection

Cartomancy was a popular practice in early 19th century Paris, but its social status varied. It was both widely sought after and also subject to skepticism. Each card in this pack has a figure or group of people in representations of everyday situations, reflecting social and artistic trends of the time. Included are some allegoric scenes, such as Death, Hope, Love or Victory. Many cards include landscape and scenery. A miniature card in the upper left corner gives additional value or cartomantic meaning. The cards are numbered in pen and ink throughout 1-52, without reference to the suits on the miniature cards. No. 1 (the 6 of hearts) is "L'Amour", and No. 52 (the 5 of clubs) "Victoire".

Since these cards were used for fortune-telling and divination, their meanings were often subjective and open to the interpretation of the reader. The card titles include : Reconciliation, voyage, pleasure, a letter, gossip, wealth, hope, gift, poverty, enemies, flattery, country estate, town house, surprise, blonde woman, marriage, love, etc.

French Cartomancy cards, hand-coloured lithograph, published by J. Gaudais; printed by Mansion, Paris, c.1830. © The Trustees of the British Museum French Cartomancy cards, hand-coloured lithograph, published by J. Gaudais; printed by Mansion, Paris, c.1830. © The Trustees of the British Museum French Cartomancy cards, hand-coloured lithograph, published by J. Gaudais; printed by Mansion, Paris, c.1830. © The Trustees of the British Museum French Cartomancy cards, hand-coloured lithograph, published by J. Gaudais; printed by Mansion, Paris, c.1830. © The Trustees of the British Museum
French Cartomancy cards, hand-coloured lithograph, published by J. Gaudais; printed by Mansion, Paris, c.1830

Above: French Cartomancy cards, 52 cards, hand-coloured lithograph, backs printed with a plaid pattern, published by J. Gaudais; printed by Mansion, Paris, c.1830. Mansion's name is on every card, and Gaudais' on some of them. © The Trustees of the British Museum • Cartomancy cards, Paris, c.1830

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 103) [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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