Tarot of Marseille Cards

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Pack information: 78 Cards and booklet
Card dimensions: 70 x 120 mm
Authors: Claude Burdel 

The name Tarot of Marseille does not indicate a single deck of cards but rather a series of iconographic models, which identify a type of Tarot deck. 

At the end of the l600's, this type of card deck spread all over Europe, eliminating and replacing with rare exception (for example the Neoclassical Tarot of Lombardy), all regional 
production and variants of Tarots. Within one century, the iconography of Marseilles was the most widespread and well-known. When the esoteric world began to dedicate itself to Tarots and study them, it was faced with this type of Tarot whose icons were transformed and explained in light of divinatory practices. 

Strangely, the reason behind the extraordinary success of the Tarot of Marseille was predominantly economic. The iconographic model was without a doubt influenced by the Tarots of Paris, which in turn were heavily inspired by the Lombard ones. Nevertheless, the largest card industries of Europe were located in Marseille during that time. Thanks to that privileged position, some of the most important manufacturers of Tarot emerged and prospered: Arnoux (from 1790 to 1829), Bourlion (from 1753 to 1793), Conver (from 1760 to 1890), and Tourcaty (from 1701 to 1809). They were able to export card games and Tarots at extremely low prices and of a quality which was decidedly higher than the competition's. The logical consequence was that the use of Marseilles iconography became synonymous with quality and all manufacturers which were not in Marseilles adopted this new appearance in order to survive. Still today, the Tarot of Marseille are the ones used most for playing and, in Italy and France, also for divining. 

In particular, this deck represents a typical example of the iconography of the Tarot of Marseille. This edition's exact 'reproductions' differ slightly since the colours were brought back to their original splendour (without the damage which time has inflicted on the original cards), the background was cleaned up, and the images were carefully reset in a sharper design. The final effect is not an exact reproduction of the ancient deck but rather a reconstruction of how the ancient deck would have looked had it been printed today.

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  • 4
    A Thoughtful Gift

    Posted by Greta on 15th Nov 2004

    If you are looking to explore the world of divination, the Tarot of Marseille is a beautiful traditional pack, (twenty two major arcana and fifty six minor arcana). It is based upon images that date back to the end of the 1600s, and which was in turn influenced by the Tarot of Paris. This pack is true to the spirit of the ancient Tarot, and keeps much of the feeling of those early times. This is a very friendly pack to work with. The cards themselves are a comfortable size, and very high quality,  so they are pleasant to handle as well as good to look at. The images are mediaeval, and speak volumes in their simplicity.  A reading will  flow readily from cards such as these. A small ‘ready guide’ is included, so that even beginners can work well and instantly with these traditional images. Some suggestions are made as to how to lay out the cards, but with such a comfortable pack, it is actually possible to lay out a spread in any way that feels right, and still find a useful result. These are timeless images. The Tarot of Marseille would make a beautiful and thoughtful gift, for anyone interested in the Tarot, or in divination in  general.

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