hist-games: flower oracles

Thierry Depaulis thierry.depaulis at freesbee.fr
Thu Apr 17 05:22:10 PDT 2003

In a message dated Wed, 16 Apr 2003 23:48:25
Alexandra Nagel wrote:

>I've been looking into the history of flower oracle cards and by doing so
>did some reading in the history of tarot and flower symbolism. But there
>are quite some major gaps in my knowledge. For now three questions:
>Does anyone of you know about a connection of the "language of flowers"
>(made popular in France, England mainly by Charlotte de la Tour, also
>spelled de Latour, through her book La Langage des Fleur, 1819) and cards
>or fortune telling games?

There is one recent study, published (in French) by Jean-Pierre Seguin,
which you may like to read:
Jean-Pierre Seguin, "Les 'langages des fleurs' en France au XIXe siècle et
leurs archétypes
aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles", in: Actes du Colloque "Papiers, Images,
Collections", 28, 29, 30 avril 2000, études réunies par Thierry Depaulis (=
Le Vieux Papier,  Vol. XXXV, No. 358, Oct. 2000), pp. 125-150.

Seguin mentions some to 19th-century card packs, like the Grand Jeu de Mlle
Lenormand, and other later ones.

>There is the Grand Jeu de Mlle Lenormand, having on each card a small
>bundle of flowers. This deck originated in 1845. Are there other such old
>decks having on each card a flower and assigning symbolism to it?

Not exactly as far as I know. On Mlle Le Normand, and the apocryphal "Grand
Jeu de Mlle Lenormand", you can read: Thierry Depaulis (me again!), Ronald
Decker, Michael Dummett, A Wicked Pack of Cards : The Origins of the Occult
Tarot, London, Duckworth, 1996. Chapter 7 deals with Mlle Le Normand and
"her" pack and also with the so-called "Kleine Lenormandspiele" (Small
Lenormand cards).

>I've seen Marc Vulson de la Colombiere's Les Oracles Divertisans (1677)
>that does have a floral lexicon in the back of the book. The book is
>mainly meant as a game for young women to find out about their love lifes.
>Does any one of you know something about this book or its author?

I think Seguin mentions this book and others. Marc Vulson de La Colombière
lived in the 17th century and wrote many (successful) books dealing with
symbolism, oracles, heraldry, dreams, etc.

His name is sometimes mispelled as Wulson... Have you tried KG Saur's World
Biographical Index, Archives Biographiques Françaises, under Vulson,
Wulson, Colombiere, La Colombiere?

Thierry Depaulis
Paris, France
Board Game Studies Editor
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