hist-games: Summary of IPCS Presentations

Michael McKay seaan at concentric.net
Fri Dec 4 20:29:27 PST 1998

Here is a summary of the presentations from the International Playing-Card
Society (IPCS) convention, held in Paris, France in October 1998.  There
were other activities as well, but these are the presentations that was
published in a convention handout.

Tarot and Number Symbolism; by Ronald Decker
	Postulates the Tarot trumps symbolize several esoteric themes.  The
symbolism was lost with the deaths of the Northern Italian inventors during
the early 1400s.  Attempts to reconstruct the symbolism through iconological
studies.  There are three guiding schemes behind the design: astrological (a
horoscope chart), psychologizing (a “soul journey”), and number symbolism.
Looking for a single source that explains each of the schemes.  The bulk of
the talk was on number symbolism (the other schemes had been presented at
earlier conventions)
	The number symbolism source is very likely to be “In somnium Scipionis” (On
the dream of Scipio) by the Roman encyclopedist Macrobius (fl. 400 AD).
Trumps 1-9 and 21-13 match Macrobius’s explanations of the numbers.  He did
expanded his explanation of the “soul journey”, showing how the location of
the 7 sins and 7 virtues (along with pictures and illustrations of period
art that shows similar symbolism).

The Benefits of Whist: Views on the Game of Cards;  by Filip Cremers
	What are the risks and benefits of playing cards.  Quotes and analysis from
the 16th through the 19th centuries.  Some interesting philosophical
discussions, and presented with slightly humorous tone.

Limoges Cardmakers, 15th-18th Centuries, by Paul Blaise
	Examination of the card manufactures in Limoges, France.  Two of the
earliest include Bernard, a cardmaker between 1380 and 1428, cited in the
St. Martial Notary Book.  The other is Barthelemy de Pistorie, “imprimeur”
rus Gaignolle on March 25, 1381.

Why Prepared Cards?  By Hjalmar
	Explanation of card cheating techniques.  The presenter is a professional
stage magician, and was quite interesting.  He later participate in teaching
French Tarock.  For some strange reason, we still let him deal during the

Fine de Brianville and the Heraldic Card Packs; by Philippe Palasi
	History of the first heraldic card decks (1660).  Enthusiastic heraldry
book publishers came up with the idea of a card pack that could be helpful
to young people learning history, geography, and heraldry.  This idea was
much copied through-out Europe for the next 50 years.

What’s New on Aluette?  By Eric Peroux
	A very interesting French game.  It is played with a Spanish deck, that has
a number of special cards.  The game itself is very chaotic (do not have to
follow suit, can make signs to partner to indicate which cards you have in
your hand, can advise partner during play, etc.).  I enjoyed learning how to
play the game even more than the presentation.

The Marque of Huchot and Other Card Game Illustrators; by Daphne Tregear
	Daf’s presentation on the miniature cards that were used to illustrate
books on card game rules.  Their use seems to have started c.1835 as
solitaire (patience) games made describing how to play the games more

Michael McKay  (known in the SCA as Seaan McAy)
seaan at concentric.net

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