The Dodal and the Payens

#1
I'd like to discuss the dating and relationship of these decks. Having just received the beautiful new Dodal restored by Jean-Claude Flornoy, I was reading through the accompanying booklet and was surprised to learn some history of the decks that I have never come across before. From the booklet:
Jean Dodal is attested as Master card-maker in Lyon between 1701 and 1715. On a graphic level, his tarot and that of Avignon editor Jean Payen are curiously similar. It is easy to conclude that these two decks were engraved in the same workshop. Dodal commissioned Jacques Mermé, engraver in Chambéry, to carve the woodblocks for the tarot he planned to edit. Mermé's son Claude, born in 1689, was hired to execute a tarot for Jean Payen in 1713, when he was 24 years old, and engraved another in 1745 for Jean-Pierre Payen. Jacques taught the rudiments of engraving to his son, but died in 1709 when Claude was barely 18 years old and had only just acquired the technical basis of his trade. Jacques Mermé includes many meaningful details, while Claude Mermé appears to take a perverse pleasure in including none. The inner sense of these images seems to escape him. The 'packaging' of Cluade's work for the Payens is correct, but the wine is ordinary and its effects mediocre.

It is important to distinguish between engravers and cartiers, or card-makers. In the beginning of the 18th century, card-makers became editors as we think of them today: image-merchants and paper salesmen. From 1701, for reasons of fiscal control, card-makers were forbidden to engrave their woodblocks themselves. In order to establish a revised tax regime most advantageous to the administration, the constabulary had the old woodblocks throughout France planed down or destroyed by fire in a series of wide-ranging raids... so card-makers were required make new plates conforming to new criteria. Dodal therefore called upon Jacques Mermé, specialized engraver and skilled Compagnon, to accomplish this task. The Dodal tarot can thus be dated with a high degree of certainty to 1701. It is Mermé the engraver who was responsible for the transmission of the wisdom borne by the tarot, and it is his mark as master (a chrisme, or stylized 4) he inscribed on IIII - L'Empereur.
So this Mermé family is a new twist to this that I've not heard of before. It would be nice to learn more about the source of this information.

I've always questioned the relationship between the Payens and the Dodal. The decks are obviously related in some way, and I suppose a father and son engraver would make as much sense as anything. What surprises me in this is that I've come to consider the Dodal as a pretty "sloppy" copy of some earlier deck. It has some very strange attributes, such as the crossbeam on the Hanged Man missing, and the way that many of the titles seem to be cut into the picture. I assume that the deck shows a transition from a deck without titles to one that does.

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The Dodal is made for export, as it clearly states on several cards. Export to where, I wonder?

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And what of the alternate spelling of Dodal as marked on the cards... Dodali... is that French?

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Additionally, the Dodal has the "I.P." on the Moon card that Jean-Michel brought to attention, and those initials are missing from the Payen decks. It does make sense to me that they might indicate J(I)ean Payen.

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So I've never been quite able to figure it out. On one hand the Dodal seems different than the Payens in that there is evidence of a greater struggle with the title and number areas that doesn't show up in the Payen decks. On the other, the Dodal seems to have been made for export, and it has the I.P. initials on it.

So maybe thinking more about the Payens will help??

Another issue that Jean-Claude's booklet brought to mind is that the Payen family were an already established card making family that had moved from Marseille to Avignon in the 1680s. The whole "destruction of the moulds" scenerio really does need to be considered. This was raised by Ross several years ago, and includes a very good biography of the Payen family, I'm going to quote some of his posts from AT:
I have never read of the edict to destroy all the old moulds - I assume it is in d'Allemagne vol. II.

Two points only to clarify -

1. Avignon did not become part of France until 1791; until then, it was a Papal dominion. According to Chobaut, who studied the Avignon cardmakers most deeply ("Les Maîtres-Cartiers d'Avignon du XVe Siècle à la Révolution" 1955) No Parisian or Royal Edict concerning cards was promulgated there until 1756 (no legislation concerning cardmakers whatsoever in fact) when the King forced the Pope to allow the same tariffs on cards from Avignon as in France. Avignon was effectively dominating the market with much cheaper cards, to the detriment of Marseilles.

Therefore the Payen family, who were cardmakers in Avignon from 1686 until after the Revolution (the first Payen had been a card-maker in Marseille until 1686), could easily have preserved an *unbroken* tradition, and Payen's 1713 deck from Avignon therefore does not represent a recreation after the destruction of 1701. In Avignon, there was no destruction.

2. Dodal's deck could be dated anywhere from 1701 to 1715. There is no date on the pack. 1701-1715 are simply the dates when Dodal was active in Lyon. Therefore, Payen's could be earlier than Dodal's, strictly technically speaking.

And if Dodal had to recarve his plates, then Payen's is certainly to be preferred.
and later this:
Our Payen spent his whole life in Avignon, since he was three years old.

As far as "established himself in Avignon in 1710", Kaplan is actually misleading (not intentionally I am sure). What he should have said is that Payen "established himself *independently of his father*, in Avignon, in 1710."

Kaplan lists Chobaut in his bibliography, but since there is no asterisk it's hard to say if he's read it. Chobaut is authoritative because his research is constructed on primary documents. He actually studied the archives, the birth, death and marriage records, the records of the transactions, inventories, contracts, etc.

Note that "maître-cartier" - "master cardmaker" - is not a description of the quality of his work, it is a technical term meaning the "master" has established himself, he is no longer an "apprentice" working under someone else.

Chobaut on Jean-Pierre's father -

"Jean Payen (or "Payan" before 1700), born around 1654, son of François and Catherine Bourelly, established before 1686 as a merchant-cartier at Marseille; at Aix-en-Provence in 1679 he married Thérèse Geoffroy, daughter of Jacques; two of his brothers-in-law, Blaise Geoffroy and Jean Dreveton, husband of Marguerite Geoffroy, were master cardmakers at Aix-en-Provence.
"I know nothing of the reasons which made Jean Payen decide to establish himself in the Papal City [Avignon] in 1686. Doubtless, since the death of Guillaume Garet [the last noted master cardmaker in Avignon before Payen, died 1685] there had been no master cardmaker in Avignon, and Payen hoped to have less competition and be better protected from the French regulations than at Marseille or at Aix-en-Provence."
.....
"Jean Payen, followed by his sons, was extremely successful; he had many apprentices (...) Jean Payen was the first of 10 master-cardmakers of this family who worked in Avignon for the entire 18th century."

[snip details of addresses and apprentices - he became very rich - in 1697, he bought a paper-mill which his family owned until 1774. He died in 1731, appointing his eldest son Jean as heir. Chobaut also provides a genealogical chart].


Jean had four sons -

1) aforementioned Jean - 1680-1758; cartier in Avignon;
2) Jean-Pierre (our Jean-Pierre Payen) - 1683-1757; cartier in Avignon;
3) Pierre-François - 1687-1748; cartier first at Arles, then Avignon;
4) Armentaire - 1690 - ?; cartier at Arles.

The first son's story is interesting for us, since he became master-cardmaker as his father's heir, while he appointed his son the director of the papermill owned by the family. It was a virtual monopoly of Payens in Avignon.

Chobaut on Jean-Pierre Payen (ours) -

"Jean-Pierre Payen, baptised at Marseille the 29 June 1683, died at Avignon 27 September 1757, son of Jean, established at Avignon in 1686.
"Emancipated by his father at the time of his marriage, 2 June 1710, Jean-Pierre Payen established himself merchant-cartier and stationer on the 5 June, at rue Rouge or the Orfèvres, parish of Notre-Dame la Principale. On the 8th of July 1712, he bought a house and boutique, rue de l'Argenterie or Bancasse, parish Saint-Agricol, and there installed his industry and business.
"He appears to have had good rapport with his confreres in Montpellier: he had as apprentice in 1724, Nicolas Surville, and in 1730, Antoine Bacquier, both originally from this town; in 1735, his daughter Marie married Fulcran Bouscarel, merchant-cartier and stationer of Montpellier, son of Bernard, of the same profession.
"His eldest son, Jean-Pierre (1723-1793) would be a silk-merchant, then merchant-stationer and binder. The workshop and boutique of playing cards on the rue Bancasse went to the younger son, Joseph-Agricol."

Thus you can see that Kaplan's date 1710 is misleading; this is the year that Jean-Pierre Payen was emancipated by his father, and established himself as master-cartier in Avignon, *independently* of the other Payens. Kaplan makes it appear that 1710 was the year Jean-Pierre first came to Avignon from Marseilles; in fact, since three years of age he was in Avignon. 1710 is just the year he started his own business.
So if the Payens were making tarots since before 1686, and were making them in Avignon from 1686 onwards, and if they were free from any supposed requirement to destroy their moulds, why on earth would they hire an engraver to make their moulds for them? In comparison, Dodali seems rather a "fly by night" sort of character who was making cards for export for all of 15 years, and the Payens were a huge family of card makers stretching across centuries.

Hmmmmm.

Thoughts???
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The Dodal and the Payens

#2
Good subject Robert!

Just a couple of thoughts.

Payen moulds may have degenerated by 1713. The can get a century of use, but as you can see from the Conver 1760 printing (Camoin's printing from the original blocks (in the 1960s?), and the Thunder Bay edition (IIRC)), they really do wear out. So it is not surprising he would commission new ones.

The 1701 edict (not in force in Avignon anyway) expliticly excludes tarot moulds from destruction:
"Permettons néanmoins aux maîtres cartiers d'imprimer chez eux les cartes appelées tarots, ainsi qu'ils ont fait jusqu'à présent, à la charge de les apporter aux bureaux du fermier pour y être marquées comme ci-dessus et en être les droits payés."
(It being permitted, nevertheless, for master-cardmakers to print in their workshops the cards called Tarots, just as they have done up to now, so long as they bring them to the office of the excise-man to be stamped there as above and the fees on them being paid).

This edict is printed in full in D'Allemagne, vol. I, pp. 392-394. It's pretty long to translate, but it is clear that tarots were excluded from destruction.

The "Great Tarot Destruction" of 1701 never happened.
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Re: The Dodal and the Payens

#3
Thanks for the information Ross. Fascinating that there wasn't a requirement to destroy tarot decks after all! My vision of families stuffing their blocks under their skirts as the tax police barged in to claim the contraband blocks is ruined! /:) I wonder how this rumour got started in the first place as it seems to be repeated by Flornoy and Hadar, perhaps it is more common in French culture? I don't suppose it matters that much anyway, but I guess it makes a less dramatic story.

Do you think Dodal(i) was Italian? Do you think he was exporting to Italy?

I'd like to know more about the Mermé family, and hopefully we can learn how Jean-Claude came to connect them to Dodal and the Payens.

I guess I'm surprised that they Payens weren't carving their own blocks. I would have thought that if they had the designs, they would have been able to do the engraving, but I guess it really was a more specialised skill and they hired engravers instead of doing it themselves.

Then there are those damned initials on the Dodal. Hmmm.

What do you make of Jean-Claude's claim about the "4" on the Emperor? The skeptic in me is.. um... skeptical, but I'm completely ignorant of the subject.

And what of the connection of the Compagnon to tarot? Are Compagnon comparable to craft guilds? Is there any reason to suppose that being craftsmen in a guild should somehow convey any special content to the images, or just the level of expertise? I'm as fond of legends as anyone, and certainly mean no disrespect to Jean-Claude, but I'd also like to know if there is any historical evidence to support the suggestion that the Compagnon were transmitting some special meaning in the images.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The Dodal and the Payens

#4
I don't know what to make of "Dodali" - I can't find this surname in Italian, but maybe he italianized his name for some reason - perhaps the export of this pack was to Italy or Piedmont?

Tarot was still played in Provence (including Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, and Marseille) in 1700, but, as I understand it, the fad for it had passed in most of the rest of France already by the 1630s. It's possible that Lyonnais cardmakers like Dodal only made Tarots for export to German/Swiss and Italian-speaking areas.

I guess "I.P." could stand for either Jean Payen - the elder, or the first son. Either way, I think it is the best explanation for the initials, a great discovery by Jean-Michel. If Jacques Mermé carved the plates, and I have no reason to disbelieve Flornoy, then I don't know what to make of the apparent contrary indications.
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Re: The Dodal and the Payens

#6
I believe it was Yves who did as much research as he could on the Mermés. If editors were no longer allowed to engrave their own molds after 1701, that would explain why the Payens would hire someone. It could be that there were few engravers (a very specialised skill-amazing!) around by that time, especially since then, as Ross has indicated, the rage for playing tarot had largely evaporated and the market mostly focused on export.

The only link between Dodal and the Payens is that they were both editors who employed Mermé (or his son) to make their woodblocks. But the fact is, very little is known about Dodal. On reading this thread, one sees that very much is known about the House of Payen.

JC is going to ferret out his source on the mold-planing edict. Hmmm...

The I.P. remains a mystery - what would another editor's initials be doing on the deck Dodal sub-contracted to Mermé? If that's how the story went - there's so much "not known" in all this, that all reasonable speculations must be accomodated. Finding the "facts" is another matter.

A master cartier was indeed no longer an apprentice, but at an earlier time (before 1720, when speculative Masonry was on the rise) , when a cartier was more than "just" an editor, it can be imagined that the editor-engraver was also someone who was versed in the "canon" he was effectively transmitting. The "content" of that canon, JC is convinced, reflected the philosophy of Compagnnonage. But the images are there and stand alone - whatever "baggage" they bear must pass through the eye of the beholder, and each person sees what's useful for himself. That's as it should be (Rox speaking, there).

Re: The Dodal and the Payens

#7
Pen wrote:Post deleted due to letter blindness and/or brain short-circuit...

Pen
LOL!!

(Actually Pen, I thought what you posted was interesting. Do you still have a copy? If not for this thread, a new one?)
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The Dodal and the Payens

#8
rox wrote:I believe it was Yves who did as much research as he could on the Mermés. If editors were no longer allowed to engrave their own molds after 1701, that would explain why the Payens would hire someone. It could be that there were few engravers (a very specialised skill-amazing!) around by that time, especially since then, as Ross has indicated, the rage for playing tarot had largely evaporated and the market mostly focused on export.

The only link between Dodal and the Payens is that they were both editors who employed Mermé (or his son) to make their woodblocks. But the fact is, very little is known about Dodal. On reading this thread, one sees that very much is known about the House of Payen.
Thanks for this. Hopefully Yves will share the source and information. I'd like to know more about the Mermés.
rox wrote:JC is going to ferret out his source on the mold-planing edict. Hmmm...


That would be great to know if it is a different one than the one Ross knows.
rox wrote:The I.P. remains a mystery - what would another editor's initials be doing on the deck Dodal sub-contracted to Mermé? If that's how the story went - there's so much "not known" in all this, that all reasonable speculations must be accomodated. Finding the "facts" is another matter.
My guess has been that Jean Payen (the senior, from Marseille) was probably the carver of his own plates, and that when creating the Dodal, he initialled the plates. So the Dodal would be a Jean Payen Senior, the Jean-Pierre Payen would be his son, and then the Jean Payen deck from later possibly a grandson? So three decks from the Payen family, the Dodal being engraved by the founder for the dynasty, for export purposes. But Mermé certainly blows that guess out of the water.
rox wrote:A master cartier was indeed no longer an apprentice, but at an earlier time (before 1720, when speculative Masonry was on the rise) , when a cartier was more than "just" an editor, it can be imagined that the editor-engraver was also someone who was versed in the "canon" he was effectively transmitting. The "content" of that canon, JC is convinced, reflected the philosophy of Compagnnonage. But the images are there and stand alone - whatever "baggage" they bear must pass through the eye of the beholder, and each person sees what's useful for himself. That's as it should be (Rox speaking, there).
This is the tricky part for me. Part of me wants to take a torch to this and illuminate it so that we can separate the fact from the fiction, and part of me doesn't want to be an iconoclast and take the magic out of it, a bit like opening the presents before Christmas, if you know what I mean.

I honestly know nearly nothing about the Compagnnonage, it feels like saying "The Templers", or "The "Rosicrucians", (and everyone gets all hushed, and "wink wink") in that it is like a black hole with tons of "mystery" and "superstition" attached to it and questionable evidence to support it. We certainly had guilds in England too, and there was certainly a religious aspect to many of them (saint days, care for widows and orphans, burials, candles... etc), but what's so special about the Compagnnonage? What is the spiritual tradition they are supposedly conveying in their work? What evidence is there to support this? Or does everyone prefer to not shake the box?
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The Dodal and the Payens

#9
The edict as given in Henry-René d'Allemagne, Les cartes à jouer du XIVe au XXe siècle (1906), vol. I, pp. 392-394.
L'année 1701 devait marquer une révolution dans l'histoire de la carte à jouer : c'est à partir du mois d'octobre de cette année, en effet, que la faculté de graver leurs bois fut retirée aux maîtres cartiers.
Cet édit, qui est conservé aux Archives Nationales dans la Bibliothèque administrative du Commerce (A D, XI, 7), contenait les principales dispositions suivantes :
Aussitôt après la publications des présentes, il sera fait, à la diligence de celui auquel nous aurons fait bail dudit droit, des procès-verbaux et inventaires des cartes et tarots qui se trouveront fabriqués chez les maîtres, ouvriers cartiers, marchands et autres, et ce par un Commissaire au Châtelet en notre bonne ville de Paris et par les lieutenants généraux ou autres officiers de police dans les autres villes, auxquels nous enjoignons de se faire représenter par lesdits maîtres cartiers les planches qui ont servi jusqu'à présent à l'impression des cartes, pour être sur-le-champ rompues et brisées..... Voulons qu'à l'avenir les maîtres et ouvriers cartiers soient tenus de porter aux bureaux du fermier les feuilles en papier, des cartes à têtes ou figures, pour y être imprimées de figures nouvelles et marquées des marques telles qu'il le jugera à propos et ensuite rendues auxdits maîtres pour les apprêter, mettre en couleur et débiter comme bon leur semblera : et sera l'empreinte desdites figures et marques déposée sans frais aux greffes de police des lieux pour y avoir recours en cas de besoin. A l'égard des autres cartes, nommées cartes à points ou blanches, et des tarots, seront tenus lesdits cartiers de les apporter imprimées en carton au bureau du fermier pour y être marquées de la marque, de même que les autres cartes..... Permettons néantmoins auxdits maîtres cartiers d'imprimer chez eux les cartes appelées tarots ainsi qu'ils ont fait jusqu'à présent...., à l'effet de quoi ils pourront conserver les planches qui leur ont servi jusqu'à présent pour l'impression desdites cartes.....


I bolded the relevant part about keeping the plates for making Tarots.

It is difficult for me to translate into English legalese this French legalese, but here is the sense:

"The year 1701 would mark a revolution in the history of the playing card : it is from the month of October of that year, in fact, that the ability to engrave their own moulds was taken away from master cardmakers.
This edict, which is preserved in the National Archives in the Administrative Library for Commerce, contained the following principle injunctions:
Effective immediately upon the publication of this bill, (master cardmakers and others involved in making cards) will bring the plates which have served up until now for printing cards, to be wrecked and broken on the spot. (In the future they will bring uncut sheets to the fermier (tax-collector) to be stamped with a sign of approbation). It is nevertheless permitted for master cardmakers to print in their workshops the cards called tarots just as they have done until now, ... so that they can preserve the plates which have served them until now for the printing of the said cards.
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