A Fine Set of Tarot Playing Cards Published by Baptiste Paul Grimaud, Paris; 'Tarot Allemand' à 2 têtes Chinois


Origin: French
Period: Late Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1890
Height: 10.5 cms
Width: 5.5 cms

Comprising a complete deck of seventy-eight cards of which twenty-two are Major Arcana, French Republic tax stamped to April 1890, together as originally sold with the original printed-paper wrapper.

The double ended and rounded edged cards have a sea monster and Chinoiserie theme and rather hypnotic card backs, of geometric pattern, showing a depth and simplicity of design.

The condition the thick card stock is still in good order, the whole deck without tears and the gilt edging to the corners still lustrous. The wrapper is in fair condition, the deck costing one franc twenty five cents back in September of 1890. A good survival.

Originating with A. Lefer, Cartier Paris, who published this particular game in the early 19th century, this deck was made for the large German community in Paris at the time and a copy, signed Lefer, is the museum of Rouen. In 1872 the Parisian cardmaker Lecquart & Mignot acquired the manufacturing of the game before later selling it to Baptiste Paul Grimaud (1817-1899). B.P. Grimaud was the founder of the famous Grimaud house that would print the successful Ancien Tarot de Marseille.

Tarot itself was originally a card game from fifteenth century Italy, although much of the groundwork for today's tarot lore was established in the late-1700s, and the only part that became popular during the subsequent century was fortune-telling. Before the more elaborate myths and esoteric systems could become popular, occult Tarot had to be invented a second time. This happened in the mid-19th century, at the beginning of the Victorian occult revival, and by the end of the century both French and British occultists had developed various schools, which took the 15th-century game to be key to occult science.

France has issued a great number of fortune-telling packs, and these are usually identifiable by the language of the inscriptions and the presence of a miniature standard card in the corner of the design. During the nineteenth century various types of fortune-telling, oracle, Lenormand, sybil and destiny cards became popular. Many decks such as this one were published in Paris though the game of tarot was not widely accepted in England until the 1870s when a number of English occultists had begun taking an interest in the tarot.

Whether intending to read the tarot or to simply frame and admire, this is a super antique deck, found in fine fettle.