Tarot De Marseilles (Conver-Camoin)

Tarot de Marseilles. Conver-Camoin, France. Full playing / divinatory tarot deck, Mediterranean suited, 78 single-headed cards. Size: unknown.

Deck make-up:
Trumps: 1-21.
Coins, clubs, cups, swords: A, 2-10, foot jack, mounted jack, queen, king.
Extras: joker.

The tarot of Marseilles is one of the standard patterns for the design of tarot decks of cards. It is a pattern from which many subsequent tarot decks derive.

The tarot deck was probably invented in northern Italy in the 15th century and introduced into southern France around 1499. All Italian-suited tarot decks outside of Italy are descended from the Marseilles type with the exception of some early French and Belgian packs. The earliest surviving cards of the Marseilles pattern were produced by Jean Noblet of Paris around 1650.

This deck was originally referred to as the "Italian tarot". The name "tarot de Marseilles" was only adopted in the 1930s, when the French manufacturer Grimaud gave this historical definition to the company's own edition of the pattern to distinguish it from the French-suited version (tarot nouveau/bourgeois tarot) by then being used for the national jeu de tarot game.

One well-known artisan producing tarot cards in the Marseilles pattern was Nicolas Conver (around 1760). It was the Conver deck (pictured here), or a deck very similar to it, that came to the attention of Antoine Court de Gébelin in the late 18th century. Court de Gébelin's writings called the attention of occultists to tarot decks. As such, Conver's deck became the model for most subsequent esoteric decks, starting with the deck designed by Etteilla forward.

In the early 20th century, most French tarot players turned away from the tarot of Marseilles and started using tarot nouveau/bourgeois tarot (see links at end of page), which used French suits and "less distracting" pictures on the trumps. However, French truck drivers, for example, could be seen using the Marseilles deck as late as the 1970s.

The version of the Conver deck shown here is based on the 1760 original. Later versions (starting around 1880) reduced the colour palette for the benefit of new printing machines introduced at this time. In particular, the green and light blue colours vanished. In more recent times, the pattern has featured in restored editions, particularly an excellent 1997 rendition by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Philippe Camoin in which "many missing symbols lost through time have been restored to the deck and the original colours which had changed due to modern printing methods in the 18th C have been carefully reproduced."

Click on any card to explore the design.

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

Trumps

Note that card with death on it isn't titled. The French on the tower card means "the house of God". There are two cards numbered 18 (XVIII) – oops!

Coins

In a similar way to the ace of clubs in modern poker decks, the two of coins is used here to show the maker's name and date of design. The valet (the under-jack in this pattern) also shows this name.

Clubs

The batons on the ace and courts are literal clubs – coshes/cudgels – but the batons on the other ranks are finer and more appropriate to the "baton" designation.

Cups

Swords

The swords on the ace and courts are upright, whereas (most of) those on the other ranks are curved, like scimitars.

Extras

Documents

A Tarot Of Marseilles LWB.

Official Golden Dawn divinatory meanings for "The Italian Tarot" (i.e. Marseilles) by S L MacGregor Mathers, 1888.

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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