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4:24pm on Sunday, 26th February, 2012:

Tarot Nouveau


I bought some more old playing cards this week (the only ones I've actually won on eBay from the past 20 or more attempts — too many rich people seem to be collecting playing cards these days). Here's what they look like:

As you can see, they're not quite As Normal Cards. R=Roi (King), D=Dame (Queen), V=Valet (Jack), C=Chevalier (Knight). The extra picture cards are accompanied by a fool (joker) and 21 other cards. The other cards look like this:

Each of these cards depicts a different activity, with one orientation showing the "town" version and the other the "country" version.

Yes, this is a 78-card tarot deck, but one used for playing games, not divination. It's of a particular kind known as Tarot Nouveau, which originated in Germany but took off in France (it's also known as the French Tarot Nouveau, but I suspect that's because it uses French suits rather than the Italian ones used in a regular tarot deck). Grimaud was asked to create their version specifically to compete with the German ones.

I didn't buy the cards because I'm interested in tarot decks; I don't want to encourage cartomancers. Rather, I bought it because it was published by Grimaud, one of my favourite manufacturers (at least historically — they've let themselves go in recent decades) and I liked the look of the pictures. Also, it was designed so you can play normal card games with it — the indeces in the top-left corner allow for this — so I thought I might look up some games to play with it later.

As for how old the set is, well, probably not all that old. There were four editions of these published over the years, starting in 1890, with this being one of the later ones as the Ace of Clubs has the Grimaud marque on it and no tax stamp.

That makes it probably the third edition (the back isn't fancy enough to be the fourth edition), which would place it any time between about 1950 and 1965.

Hmm. Actually, maybe instead of finding existing games to play with them, why don't I just make up my own?

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Copyright © 2012 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).