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Published February 21, 2014 Updated July 15, 2023

Charles Cheminade Tarot

Marseille Tarot cards by Charles Cheminade of Grenoble, France, early 18th century.

1740 France Charles Cheminade Tarot Tarot de Marseille Add to Collection
Marseille Tarot cards by Charles Cheminade of Grenoble, France, early 18th century

Charles Cheminade : Marseille Tarot

‘Marseille’ tarot cards, with Italian suit symbols on the minor cards, first arrived in France from Italy in the first half of the sixteenth century and then flourished in South-Eastern parts of France and neighbouring parts of Switzerland and North-West Italy. This particular example of ‘Tarot de Marseille’ cards by Charles Cheminade of Grenoble, France, dates from the first half of the 18th century and may have been made for export to any of those countries.

The Trump cards appear in the traditional order, with titles in French. The letter 'V' is used for 'U' (as in classical Roman inscriptions) and also some idiosyncrasies or corruptions in the spelling can be noted. For example, Le Chariot appears to be spelled “LECHARICR” and The Fool is titled “LE•FOL”. The Emperor appears to be numbered III but with an Arabic 4 lower down. The Death card is untitled and facing left. Court cards are titled Valet, Chevalier, Reine and Roy.

See also: Tarot de Marseille, Jean-Baptiste Madenié, Dijon probably before c.1739

Marseille Tarot Trump cards by Charles Cheminade of Grenoble, France, early 18th century

Above: Marseille Tarot Trump cards by Charles Cheminade of Grenoble (1714-44), France, early 18th century. Stencil-coloured woodblock printing. Card XX The Judgement, suggests the opening of a new life.

Marseille Tarot court cards by Charles Cheminade of Grenoble, France, early 18th century

Above: Marseille Tarot court cards by Charles Cheminade of Grenoble (1714-44), early 18th century. Stencil-coloured woodblock printing. The court cards have a touch of the South of France about them compared to Italian versions. All images courtesy Rex Pitts.

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By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

Rex's main interest was in card games, because, he said, they were cheap and easy to get hold of in his early days of collecting. He is well known for his extensive knowledge of Pepys games and his book is on the bookshelves of many.

His other interest was non-standard playing cards. He also had collections of sheet music, music CDs, models of London buses, London Transport timetables and maps and other objects that intrigued him.

Rex had a chequered career at school. He was expelled twice, on one occasion for smoking! Despite this he trained as a radio engineer and worked for the BBC in the World Service.

Later he moved into sales and worked for a firm that made all kinds of packaging, a job he enjoyed until his retirement. He became an expert on boxes and would always investigate those that held his cards. He could always recognize a box made for Pepys, which were the same as those of Alf Cooke’s Universal Playing Card Company, who printed the card games. This interest changed into an ability to make and mend boxes, which he did with great dexterity. He loved this kind of handicraft work.

His dexterity of hand and eye soon led to his making card games of his own design. He spent hours and hours carefully cutting them out and colouring them by hand.


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