Tarot: Tarot: Spécial Cercle / Tarot Nouveau / Tarot A Jouer / Jeu De Tarot / Bourgeois Tarot (Grimaud)

Tarot: spécial cercle / tarot nouveau / tarot à jouer / jeu de tarot / bourgeois tarot. Grimaud, France. Full playing-tarot deck, French suited, 80 double-headed cards. Size: 60mm x 113mm.

Deck make-up:
Trumps: 1-21.
Hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades: 1-10, foot jack, mounted jack, queen, king.
Extras: joker, title card (double-sided), points card.

This pattern originated in the late 19th century with the CL Wüst card-maker of Frankfurt, Germany. It has been suggested that the pack was an exasperated response to the increasing use of tarot decks for fortune-telling purposes. This deck contains none of the usual Renaissance illustrations (hanged man, wheel of fortune et al.) on the trumps, which were perceived to distract players.

The deck is a full tarot deck and is thus suitable for playing almost any game requiring a full tarot deck or a stripped tarot deck, so is the "go-to" deck if you want to try tarocchi/tarock games (especially since it features the familiar French suits). It can even be made into a regular poker deck by removing one of the two jacks in each suit, and the suit of trumps. This pack is most commonly found in France, Wallonia, Romandy, Québec, and Denmark. Central Europe has a very similar deck called industrie und glück, but this is usually seen in a stripped version of 54 cards (lacking values one through six in the black suits, and five through ten in the red suits).

Click on any card to explore the design.

(Comments or corrections, please e-mail: Click to see e-mail address.)


Supposedly these trumps (apart from 10 and 11) have an urban/town representation of a given theme when one way up and, when inverted, have a rural/country representation. Here is a table, taken from Wikipedia:

General theme Card number Card theme Urban representation Rural representation
The four ages 2 Childhood Children playing in the park Boys playing at the fête
3 Youth Group of youths in the park Three maidens in town clothes
4 Maturity In the office Women with children
5 Old Age Grandfather Grandmother
The four times of day 6 Morning Breakfast Mowing the wheat
7 Afternoon Discussion in the parlour Rest in the field
8 Evening Music room The family reunited on the doorstep
9 Night Returning home after hunting The night watch
The four elements 10 Earth The mine
Air Shepherd in the mountains
11 Water Boating on the lake
Fire The picnic
The four leisures 12 Dance Soirée Folk dance
13 Shopping The store The village store
14 Open air Hunting Fishing
15 Visual arts Photography Painting
The four seasons 16 Spring Gardener in the park Sheep shearing
17 Summer At the races Drying the wheat
18 Autumn At the market Threshing wheat
19 Winter Skating The vigil
The game 20 The game Cards Bowling
Folly 21 Collective The carnival The military parade
1 Individual The sad clown The fool and the ballerina

It seems to me that the table's entry for 5 is the wrong way round (the grandfather picture looks more rural than the grandmother). Ditto for 9 (isn't hunting more rural than a nightwatchman?) Both pictures on 11 look more like town types to me. Ditto 21. Ditto 1.
I also think that 3 could just as easily be the other way round. Also, I think the guy sitting down on 10 is probably a goatherd rather than a shepherd. And what does "The vigil" on 19 mean?
Note also the weird appearance by the fool in the army scene on card 21.


The corner indices on the courts are French: V – valet, C – chevalier (knight), D – dame (Lady, rather than reine for queen as then the initial would clash with the king), R – roi (king).


As with most decks of cards, early versions lacked the corner indices of later editions. It seems the basic design was not resized when the indices were added, hence the pip symbols have ended up chopped in half to make room for the indices.


The names the French use for these suits do not correspond exactly with the English names. The diamonds here are carreaux (tiles). Hearts are cœurs (same as the English). Clubs are trèfles (clovers / trefoils); the English having, for some reason, used a name pulled from their Mediterranean-suited predecessors (one style of which looked like cudgels / clubs) despite the mismatch between the symbol and the name...


... As for spades, this time the French have a mismatch, too. In French, this suit is piques (pikes) despite the symbol looking like a leaf; the French name also seems to have been derived from a Mediterranean suit (that of swords).


Links to other full tarot and divinatory decks

Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck (AGM-Urania)

Ancient Italian Tarot / Tarocchino Milanese (Lo Scarabeo)

Golden Dawn Magical Tarot (Llewellyn Books)

The Golden Dawn Tarot (U.S. Games Systems)

Grand Etteilla (Tarots Egyptiens / Egyptian gypsies tarot) (Grimaud)

Grand Jeu De Mlle Lenormand (Grimaud)

(Petit) Lenormand / "Blue Owl" Lenormand (AGM-Urania)

The Hermetic Tarot (U.S. Games Systems)

Tarot Hiéroglyphique Egyptien (unknown, France)

Learning Tarot Cards (Witchy Cauldron)

Minchiate Fiorentine (Baragioli)

Nouveau Jeu De La Main (Grimaud)

Tarots Parisiens / Oracles Planetaires / Sorcier du XIXe Siècle (Viuda de Bouchard-Huzard)

Tarot Of The Renaissance (Lo Scarabeo)

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (Rider)

RWS Panorama (Deckstiny)

Sola-Busca Tarot (privately commissioned deck)

Le Tarot Astrologique / The Astrological Tarot (Grimaud)

Tarot De Marseilles (Conver-Camoin)

Tarot: Spécial Cercle / Tarot Nouveau / Tarot A Jouer / Jeu De Tarot / Bourgeois Tarot (Grimaud)

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