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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Ancien Tarot de Marseille -- a very old deck finds a new forever home

Ancien Tarot de Marseille, Grimaud 1973
I bought this deck on eBay the other day (£8 -- bargain). In the photograph, you see the box with plastic insert to hold the deck divided in half, the instruction booklet, and on left, the Ancien Tarot de Marseille deck. Next to it on the right, I've placed the CBD tarot for comparison, so you can see how thick the card stock is. It is about twice the thickness of the average tarot deck.

I was really surprised at how pristine the deck is, considering it is 43 years old. The cards still had the cellophane bands around them. They look brand new. The box has some slight yellowing, and both box and deck have that curious smell that comes with old paper. I can't describe it, but you know it when you smell it. It isn't terribly strong, but it's there. The cards have a tiny copyright imprint: G & P Grimaud 1963 (not 1973). The cards are extremely oversaturated with colour, consisting of golden yellow, dark blue, dark green, deep red, a peachy flesh tone and black. The background and some card details are vivid white.  The deck is solid and chunky in the hand, and there is no way to riffle it. Hand over hand is the only way to go.

There are some endearing quirks to this deck, for example, the coin suit is called 'money' and cards are labelled 'Knave of Money', 'Queen of Money'. The Tower is called 'Tower of Destruction'. Lovers is called 'The Lover'.  Batons are called 'Clubs'.  The Popesse is called 'The High Priestess' but the Pope is still 'The Pope'. And card XIII is labelled 'Death', on the side of the card. I have no idea who did the redrawings or what deck it is based on.

Here's my draw for today:

9 of Clubs, 2 of Swords, Knave (Page) of Swords. The Knave has his eye firmly on the flower configuration in the centre of 2 of Swords.


An obstacle or delay causes conflict; the best course of action is to take up a mildly defensive posture while keeping attention focused on the heart of the matter. Be prepared to swat lightly, like at a fly. It's very likely you'll not have cause to strike. It will probably resolve itself. 


  1. oooh another deck to have fun with! Enjoy!!!!! I can see this set for sale on ebay for £28.00 so you got a BARGAIN!!!

  2. This is the deck redesigned in the 1930s by Paul Marteau, of the Grimaud company.

    If the smell is bothering you, get a pack of the French incense paper, "Papier d'Armenie" and put a couple of strips in the box, between the pages of the booklet, etc. It's a great deodoriser, and a staple tool of French Tarot readers in any case!