hist-games: Miniature Historical Tarot Decks

Michael Urban urban at netcom.com
Fri Oct 3 07:22:33 PDT 1997

Your message dated: Thu, 02 Oct 97 17:48:07 MDT
> On Thu, 2 Oct 1997, Mark Waks wrote:
> > -- "Tarocco Popolare; Ligure Piemontese". Very pretty, definitely
> > post-period, and *quite* bizarre, in that all of the picture cards are
> > double-headed (that is, they are divided in half much like modern court
> > cards). I don't think I've seen that on any other Tarot decks. Indeces
> > on all cards except courts.
> I have a modern French (made in France) Tarot deck which is quite similar
> to a playing card deck, although the suits and trumps are Tarot suits.  It
> also came with rules (which I have yet to translate) for some game that
> looks to be quite like bridge.  Apparently the "fortune telling decks" 
> that we are familiar with here in America are quite different from those
> current in Europe (don't know about the Commonwealth, though). 
Although the point has been made several times, it is probably worth
repeating that Tarot cards were used as playing cards long before
their use for divination.  The current French game of Tarot is quite
a good game, and there are Tarot leagues and duplicate tournaments
in France.  The official tournament game is for four, but I have
been told that the five-handed form is quite popular as a social
game.  You can find an almost endless wealth of card game rules,
including French Tarot and other tarot games, at John McLeod's
WWW page: http://www.netlink.co.uk/users/pagat/ 

If your card deck does not have the familiar heart-spades-etc
suits and the trumps are not just numerals and pretty pictures
of country life, then it is not a modern French Tarot pack.  You
might hunt around McLeod's page for another Tarot game that
is appropriate to your pack (the Tarot rules pages are illustrated).

Also, from a "period" standpoint, it might be noted that Tarot
games were most popular in Italy, France, and Switzerland, and
virtually unknown in Britain.  So even though it might look
sort of neat and antique to play Tarot in some form at an
Elizabethan Renaissance Faire, it's not particularly authentic.

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