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Published August 10, 2023 Updated August 15, 2023

Le Petit Oracle des Dames

Le Petit Oracle des Dames ou Récréation des Curieux, Paris, 1807.

1807 France Saint-Sauveur Veuve Gueffier Cartomancy Etteilla Oracle Add to Collection

This delightful 42-card oracle deck was published in Paris in 1807. It incorporates a mixture of single-ended and double-ended cards with fortune-telling titles, containing cartomancy and tarot imagery, along with miniature French-suited playing cards and the occasional astrological symbol here and there. The repertoire of images is derived in part from tarot allegories, but also includes other fortune-telling imagery (cupid, a fair-haired woman, theological virtues, jealousy, robbery, prison, etc), all mixed together. The sequence of cards is numbered 1 - 42, but the miniature playing cards and images are randomly allocated throughout the deck.

Le Petit Oracle des Dames ou Récréation des Curieux published by la Veuve Gueffier, Paris, 1807. Source gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France Le Petit Oracle des Dames ou Récréation des Curieux published by la Veuve Gueffier, Paris, 1807. Source gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Above: Le Petit Oracle des Dames ou Récréation des Curieux published by la Veuve Gueffier, Relieur, rue Galande no.61, Paris, 1807. 42 cards + booklet, stencil-coloured etching; 9 x 5.8 cm. Square corners, plain backs. The designs appear have been published earlier by Grasset de Saint-Sauveur in 1797, and to derive elements from a fortune-telling pack of 1788 and partly from Etteilla’s tarot pack. Source of images: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France • Le Petit Oracle des dames ou Récréation des curieux

The 64-page booklet contains an advert for a book titled “Le Véritable Etteila” ou l’Art de tirer les Cartes. Etteilla (Jean-Baptiste Alliette 1738-1791) had by this time gained a reputation as the grand-father of fortune telling, having published several books on the subject in the 1780s, and a cartomantic tarot pack (Grand Etteilla or Tarot « Égyptien »), but apart from those tarot allegories derived from his pack, the rest of this deck has nothing to do with Etteilla. After his death a nunber of cartomancy decks were associated posthumously with Etteilla and this has led to some confusion as to which ones, if any, were endorsed by him.

Le Petit Oracle des Dames ou Récréation des Curieux published by la Veuve Gueffier, Paris, 1807. Source gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

Above: the first three pages of the booklet which accompanies the Petit Oracle des Dames.

Mme Gueffier also published “Le Nouvel Etteilla” in 1806.

References

Another example of this pack can be seen at the British Museum website: Museum number 1982,U.4592.1-42

Alliette, Jean-Baptiste: Manière de se récréer avec le jeu de cartes nommées tarots, Amsterdam & Paris, 1783 • Manière de se récréer avec le jeu de cartes nommées tarots

Depaulis, Thierry: Tarot, jeu et magie, exposition catalogue, Bibliothèque nationale, Paris, 1984 (no.132).

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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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