hist-games: Cartomancy debate

Thierry Depaulis thierry.depaulis at freesbee.fr
Thu Feb 15 23:35:28 PST 2001

>MacGregor Games
>Also I was skimming through a reprint of "History of Playing Cards" Edited by
>S. Taylor. (1865) and it brings up what I thought was an interesting tidbit in
>regard to the debate between game historians and tarot readers as to the age
>of cartomancy. It mentions a couple 16th century works on conjuring that
>discuss things like juggling, cards, and fortune telling. If I'm reading the
>Victorian-ese correctly, the books are more about conjuring as slight-of-hand
>and magician-type tricks, not as real "magick" or witchcraft. In other words,
>perhaps these early sources have been mistaken by some researchers of fortune
>telling as being early documentation for cartomancy.

Taylor's "History of Playing Cards" is essentially the mere translation
(without credits!) of a French book: Paul Boiteau d'Ambly, "Les cartes a
jouer et la cartomancie", Paris, 1854. Of course Taylor had not read the
books he "mentionned", but Boiteau had.
If it is p.455 you have in mind, I can say Horatio Galasso has nothing to
do with cartomancy! A copy of the book is in the Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal
in Paris (France...) where Boiteau saw it. It is a card-trick manual (one
of the earliest).

Marcolino's "Le Sorti" of 1540 (mentionned p. 454) is not exactly
"cartomancy". It is more fortune-telling with the help of a pack of playing
cards (trappola cards!) used as a random generator.
For Marcolino (or Marcolini) da Forli see: Detlef Hoffmann and Erika
Kroppenstedt, "Wahrsagekarten", Bielefeld: Deutsches Spielkarten-Museum,
1972, p.26-28.

Thierry Depaulis

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