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Tarot Hes 1750

Tarot Hes two of cups

When we think of historic tarot decks, the French Tarot de Marseille and early Italian decks quickly come to mind. But I’m ashamed to say that in my nearly twenty years of deck collecting it never occurred to me to think about German tarot decks.

Giordano Berti has corrected this imbalance with his latest production, the Tarot Hes published about 1750 in Augsburg, Germany. The 35-page booklet that accompanies the deck gives a quick survey of German tarot. As a bonus, the booklet quotes several of Mozart’s diary entries where he mentions playing tarot. Tarot de Marseille and Besançon (Jupiter and Juno) type decks were originally imported to Germany from France. By the mid-1700s the game was very popular and decks were being manufactured in Germany.

This deck is a hybrid of the Type I and Type II Tarot de Marseille. On this page I list ten Hes0002characteristics of a TdM I deck. This deck has five out of the ten. Eight trump cards, the aces of swords and batons and the Chevalier de Bastons are a mirror image of the traditional TdM.

I was immediately struck by the smiling faces. Everyone in this deck looks like they’re really enjoying life, while Death just heard a good joke. The court cards have details you don’t find in the traditional Conver/Chosson TdM pattern: Details on the clothing, nicely turned rails on the chairs, flowers and grass under the horses’ feet.

The cards are 2.5 by almost 5 inches. The card stock is medium-light, rather bendable and has a very silky feel that’s pleasant to handle. The backs have a very pleasant, subtle brown and tan diamond pattern. This is a facsimile of the only copy in existence housed in the British Museum, so signs of aging are present. What looks like mildew is obvious on several cards. It appears in batches of adjacent cards and must have happened after the cards were put in order and stored.

The box designed by Letizia Rivetti opens like a book with a red felt interior. The marbled paper covering the outside is bolder than Berti’s other decks, with large areas of teal green and deep blue. A card is pasted on the front and a numbered card with identifying information is included. The packaging of all of Berti’s decks is a work of art in itself.

This deck is charming, friendly and attractive. I can see myself reading with it.

Published November 2018 in a limited edition of 900.

Stay tuned! Berti will soon release another German deck, the Tarot Miller 1780.

See more card and box images and order it here:

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