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Grand Jeu Lenormand

A pack of 54 playing-cards for fortune-telling each card containing a number of zodiacal, classical and modern images with a miniature card of the conventional type at top left and a letter of the alphabet at top right.

Above: the Grand Jeu de Mlle Le Normand has been published by B-P Grimaud since c.1860, also subtitled “Grand jeu de société. Cartes astro-mytho-hermétiques”, more or less unchanged but with different back designs occurring over the years. It appears to have been first published in Paris in 1845 (shortly after Mme Lenormand's death in 1843). See: https://forum.tarothistory.com (about half-way down the page).

Images and notes courtesy Rex Pitts with extra research by Anthony Lee and Emanuel Santos.

Grand Jeu de Mlle Le Normand

Mademoiselle Marie-Anne Adelaide Lenormand was born in Normandy, France in 1772. She was the daughter of a draper and his wife but was left an orphan at 5 years old when they both died. She claimed that she was given her first pack of cards by a Gipsy when she was very young and taught how to read them. Despite being brought up by foster parents she was well educated and by the age of 18 was becoming well known as a fortune teller. At this time in France cartomancy was forbidden by law and so from time to time she was arrested and spent a very short time in prison. As her fame grew she told fortunes for the revolutionary leaders Marat, St. Juste and Robespierre among others. Later she did the same for the Emperor Napoleon and Empress Josephine as well as the Tsar of Russia, Alexander I. She wrote many books during her lifetime on cartomancy but the famous Petit Lenormand fortune telling pack was only published a few years after she died in 1843. This beautiful pack of 52 large cards plus a male and female consultant measures 90mm x 129mm, and the main pictures refer to Greek gods, godesses, myths, allegories (including alchemy) and legends.

See the card descriptions from the booklet that accompanies the deck.

Original early editions can be viewed on the Bibliothèque Nationale de France website here and here


Astro-Mythological published by Grimaud, 1970 from the collection of Sean Comstock.

Here we have a deck originally created by the most famous fortune teller of all time, Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand, more commonly known as Madame (or Mademoiselle) Lenormand.

Astro-Mythological published by Grimaud, 1970
Astro-Mythological published by Grimaud, 1970
Astro-Mythological published by Grimaud, 1970 Astro-Mythological published by Grimaud, 1970 Astro-Mythological published by Grimaud, 1970

Above: Astro-Mythological published by Grimaud, 1970, copyrighted 1969. Complete set in it's original tuck style box, with 176 page booklet and all 54 cards. Images courtesy Sean Comstock.

Madame Lenormand is a fascinating historical figure who influenced card reading as we know it. Card reading was out of fashion until she used it to advise Napoleon and Empress Josephine Bonaparte, among many other famous and infamous historical figures. It is said she even predicted the grisly deaths of both Robspierre and Marat by guillotine! Her accurate readings were and are still legendary. She still captivates us over 200 years later.

Madame Lenormand was fascinated by many things Palmistry, Numerology, Astrology, Alchemy and Mythology. It is well known that she loved Greek Mythology, and that she studied Astrology extensively. The Astro Mythological deck is sort of an ode to Greek and Egyptian Mythology, as well as Astrology. The Astro Mythological deck comes with 52 full color illustrated cards in the famed and still popular Lenormand style, which is similar to the suits of playing cards. In addition it includes 2 extra male and female cards. It also comes with the original small yet detailed guidebook.


The Fortune Teller

The Fortune Teller, August Allebé, 1859

Above: The Fortune Teller by August Allebé, 1859. The traditional practice of card-reading involved using a so-called book of fate. Cards are drawn at random and their meaning is looked up in the book so that predictions are given using the text. Nationaal Museum van de Speelkaart, Turnhout.

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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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