Re: Is the Bologna cartomancy sheet really pre-1750?

mikeh wrote:
29 May 2020, 10:02
How they fit in, in case it wasn't clear in this somewhat disjointed post, is as follows:

First, A, if the Bologna meanings started in Bologna, then
A1. They move slowly by word of mouth and itinerant fortune-tellers to France and then London (in French), by 1830, and survive in France and arrive in Paris by 1750, in the form of three elderly people, from whom somehow the 15 year old Etteilla gets the information.

Or: A2, by 1768 or so, the system gets to Etteilla by means of a more aristocratic informant who is a frequenter of shops specializing in old prints such as Etteilla's. In that case, the information could have been received in France by route A1 or from NE Italy by way of someone with Masonic connections and an interest in cartomancy. The French ambassador to Venice 1666-1670 is such a person.

On the other hand, B, if Bologna received its information from France then either
B1.After developing in France with the Piquet deck, perhaps by 1730, it travels by word of mouth to Bologna, where the reading on the sheet is recorded between 1750 and 1782.
B2. The system, after coming to Etteilla's attention, gets to Italy by way of a French person who had purchased Etteilla's 1771 booklet in Paris and then moved to Northern Italy (including for this discussion Trieste), sharing it with Masonic elements there. They adapt it to Bolognese cards so that it can be used for a reading in Bologna before 1782. The Saint-Sauveurs are such a family.

That's as far as I can get at present.
Casanova reports for 1765 in Russia, that his 15-years-old lover knows details about cartomancy.

An anonymous reports 1763 Dutch and German ladies using playing cards for divination (published in Frankfurt/Main).

Christian Adam Peuschel (1712-1770), Lutherian priest, a "Wolffianer" and rector at a school in Wonsiedel near Bayreuth writes about esoterical objects in ... "Abhandlung der Physiognomie, Metoposcopie und Chiromantie: mit einer Vorrede, darinnen die Gewißheit der Weißagungen aus dem Geschichte, der Stirn und den Händen gründlich dargethan wird, welcher am Ende noch einige Betrachtungen und Anweisungen zu weißagen beygefügt werden, die zur bloßen Belustigung dienen" ... , Hensiuß, 1769 - 401 Seiten. ... navlinks_s
"Kartenschlagen" (divination with cards) is counted by him as "Belustigung" and not taken serious (pages 382-388).
Peuschel himself is taken serious by Lavater, Nicolai and even Goethe, as reported by Annette Graczyk in "Constructs of life forms in Lavater's Physiognomy" (starts at page 153). ... el&f=false
Peuschel's book was published in 1769, one year before his death with 58 years. Lavater (* 1741) and Goethe (* 1749) were much younger.

see also:

Re: Is the Bologna cartomancy sheet really pre-1750?

Thanks, Huck. So Germany's references to divination with cards started around the same time as France's, which may reflect either what was allowed to be said in print or what there was to say.

What I really need to know is what systems they used, at least in general terms, so as to determine if they had anything to do with the Bologna document. Divination with cards is talked about in England even in the 1690s, but the systems used had nothing in common with either Etteilla or Bologna. The clearest exception is the play "Jack the Giant Killer" in 1730, as I indicated. There was also a 48 card divination deck, with keywords, published by an "ardent Mason" named Stretchley in 1750, but these keywords were not anything like either Bologna's or Etteilla's, from the 12 that she shows us on her blog.

There is another system, at least using court cards, that Mary Greer and Tom Little refer to in Understanding The Tarot Courts, 2002, as from 1750; I don't think it is the same as the Stretchley, because Stretchley's didn't have court cards. Unfortunately they do not divulge their source. Books by cartomancers with pretenses to historical information are frustrating that way: they don't document anything, and their information is wrong as often as it is right. If only I had a crystal ball so as to tell which "information" was real and which not.

Added later: Casanova allegedly, and probably, wrote his memoirs 1789-1794. So 1863 is not secure, in fact seems to me just as likely to be fiction.

Re: Is the Bologna cartomancy sheet really pre-1750?

SteveM wrote,
I found the original French text of this some years ago while searching through the online collection of the BnF, and posted a translation of it I think on Aeclectic, and also at various times to the file section of several Facebook tarot groups.
That's great Steve. I figured it was in either vol. 1 or vol. 2. Now I just need the original, not only to read it but to see what else he says, before and after. When I search on Gallica, only a 1785 volume comes up, and searching for reasonable terms in the selection brings up nothing relevant. Can you bring it up? And do you have the page number, the original French, etc. I also can't find your post on Aeclectic, in case you put this information there. But I'm using a computer now that I'm not used to. Maybe I'm doing something wrong.

The passage that Matthews quoted, or perhaps I should say plagiarized from your translation, seems important to an assessment of the relationship of Etteilla to the Bologna document. It gives a rationale for changing the cards to which the meanings are assigned, from Bologna's suits to Etteilla's:
the hearts indicate happiness and success in gallantry, and the diamonds, of one's interests and finance; clubs are favorable to one's ambitious views, and spades to war projects or military advancement; when contrary, the spades are unfavorable in the affairs of gallantry, the clubs must give reason to fear that financial and business interests go wrong, the hearts announce great disappointment in projects of ambition, and the diamonds act contrary to soldiers.
So positive cards about relationships go in Hearts. Negative ones go in Spades. Positive cards about war and military advancement go in Spades. Negatives ones go in Diamonds. Positive cards about finance go in Diamonds; negative ones go in Clubs. Positive cards about ambitions go in Clubs, negatives ones in Diamonds. Except that Clubs are positive about money. And Diamonds are mixed, as de Mellet says. It is easy to get Diamonds and Clubs mixed up.

Re: Is the Bologna cartomancy sheet really pre-1750?

Hey Mike! Long time no see. I've been reading through your new thread with great interest. Think you might be on to something... =)

I did some digging. After much frustration and gnashing of teeth, I managed to locate five copies of Mélanges Tirés d'une Grande Bibliothèque, Volume 2 online (see links below). Take your pick. FYI...the BnF copy is in color but the four Google Books copies are in black and white.

The portion that Steve translated begins in the middle of page 332, where the text reads, "Je vous apprendrai, avec moins de..."

I found out the hard way why you had so much difficulty in finding them online. Ugh... Aside from their periodicals, Gallica doesn't do the best job of grouping multi-volume books together. Google isn't much better.

In the end, I accidentally stumbled onto the BnF copy through the link here: ... de_paulmy/ This was much easier than perusing through the thousands of results from the regular Gallica search engine. Until today, I had no idea that you could look up an author at and browse their entire bibliography! Sure makes things a lot easier. All you have to do is make sure that the entry you want to view has the black "play" and "download" buttons on the far right. (This indicates that the document has been scanned and is viewable online.) Just thought I'd share this alternate way of searching the BnF in case anyone else but me didn't know this already. I'm still flabbergasted at how awesomely simple it is! Guess you learn something new every day... =)

Re: Is the Bologna cartomancy sheet really pre-1750?

Hi John, for getting the group of dcuments on Gallica, use the "i" (information) icon at the top of the left margin menu. At the bottom there should be a line that says "See all documents from the same set." This takes you to all their volumes of Mélanges tirés d'une grande bibliothèque, five pages worth.

They are not in order, though, so you still have to do a little scrolling to find the particular number you want.

Re: Is the Bologna cartomancy sheet really pre-1750?

Thanks Ross! I'll add that to my list of tricks for browsing Gallica. I'm sure the site has all sorts of bells and whistles I've not yet encountered. I've managed to stay afloat so far simply because I'm stubborn enough to go through every single one of the thousands of search results to find what I'm looking for. But it's nice to know there's an easier way... =)

Re: Is the Bologna cartomancy sheet really pre-1750?

Thanks for the tips, John and Ross. I'll try to remember them. Here is my summary: I would appreciate knowing if I missed anything.

I was interested in knowing whether Voyer d'Argenson attributed this cartomancy he presents to any source, and whether in general he does so with games. The answers are no and yes.

He appears to have no knowledge of cartomancy in other countries. He does, however, know about the games that are played with the tarot deck and that they are of Italian origin. He knows Minchiate and even Tarocchini, and that one or the other is played as much in Bologna as Milan (but does not know how Tarocchini is spelled, or, or how many cards it has), even if he thinks that Minchiate is from Rome and another game, he calls Pichiate, comes from Florence. All of this is pp. 317-318. He gives 78 cards to Taros and 96 to Minchiate. He knows that there are German and Swiss variants (the one with Juno and Jupiter?). Oddly he thinks that there are 24 figure cards in Taros, 4 for each of the 4 suits and 8 attached to no suit. Having already puzzled about "VIII Imperadori", I wonder what he is talking about here. He also knows the difference between Taros and Triomphe.

About cartomancy, he knows a difference between "grande" and "petite" Patience, i.e. card-reading. And he doesn't think much of the "grande": it's "rien" (this is p. 232 or so). He expounds on the "petite", which is at least with French cards.

There is nothing to indicate he knows anything of Bolognese cartomancy of the type on the sheet (unless it is the "grande"), despite spending 1660-1669 as ambassador to Venice. The "petite" cartomancy he talks about seems similar to that we hear about in 17th century Spain and early 18th century England. There is no sense that he thinks cartomancy is something new in France. Since he was born in 1722, that would suggest that he assumes it was not developed before then. But he only knows a rather primitive form.

So far, the likeliest hypothesis is that the Bolognese Cartomancy Sheet is 1770s and derives, for the suit cards, from the 15 year old Saint-Sauveur's passing around in Venice and Trieste of Etteilla's Abrege. But that doesn't explain the suit-switching, (the legacy of Voyer d'Argenson?) and not enough is known to say anything with any security at all. JSS says he had asked for Etteilla's permission to circulate the Abrege, but then never said whether he did or where. It would be very nice if the Bologna University library were open and someone could get in to see what the Masonic associations were.

Re: Is the Bologna cartomancy sheet really pre-1750?

From my recent studies to early cartomancy I got the impression, that there was in the early time possibly more "cartomancy of humble value" in countries with protestantic background. The appearances are too rare to say, that this is a fixed statistical value, but Dutch, English and German sources seem to be easier to find.
Especially strange is, that the two early German sources (1747, poet with a Dutch name) and 1763 (about Dutch and German ladies) give the impression, that something entered from the Netherland region.

Re: Is the Bologna cartomancy sheet really pre-1750?

Surely the impression that there was more humble cartomancy in Protestant countries is due to the fact that the press was more free in those countries. Anybody could publish anything much of the time in Germany and the Netherlands, and the UK (but there is not much evidence there...).

The Spanish Inquisition records show that humble cartomancy was known in Catholic countries. But these witches - diviners and spell-casters - were often illiterate. And of course the press was heavily censored. In Italy, the Inquisition records for Bologna and Milan were destroyed deliberately in the 18th century. I think in Venice more was preserved.

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