Petit Oracle des Dames, c. 1797 / theme JGSS

Later added (Jan. 2017): the title was corrected from c. 1800 to c. 1797 according some later research progress. Jacques Grasset de Saint-Sauveur (= JGSS) is considered to have been the producer of the deck.

post of 2012:

This thread was basically generated at Aeclectic since 8th of February 2012
It corresponds indirectly to the Minchiate Francesi research.

The thread is shortened for brevity

There was cooperation and dialog and direct help from kwaw, Coredil, Cerulean, Teheuti, Le Fanu, Andrea Vitali, Ross Caldwell, Michael S. Howard, WWPCM. THANK YOU


This refers to the discussion at ...
... further information available in the following posts.

The presented deck is a remake of late 20th century, referring to a deck "Petit Oracle des Dames", which survived from 1807 ... the deck was already announced in the year 1800.



Re: Petit Oracle des Dames, c. 1800

I detected at an exhibition photo (Andrea Vitali, Malta) a version of the Petit Oracle des Dames.

Image ... the small photo at the right

Compare the small Amor picture with the later card:


It's almost identical inclusive the small Pique Ace and the Venus sign above it.

I looked in the catalog of Andrea Vitali, made around the time of the Malta exhibition and found as the Amor picture as Nr. 118 ..
L'amore da "Les songes expliqués et raprésentés par 74 figures. Du mayon de connâitre
l'avenir par une nouvelle manière de tirer les cartes les cartes" di anonimo (Lilla, chez Blocquel et Castiaux, 1809).
Blocquel is a name, which appears in DDD "Wicked Pack of Cards" variously (p. 147-49), but first in context of 1838 and the Etteilla-II deck. Blocquel used pseudonyms, one of it is Z. Lismon and another might be "Julia Orsini".

I checked for something from the web, and found a description of his life: ... 41_81_2813

In 1809 Simon-Francois Blocquel (1780-1863) associated himself with Jean-Baptiste Castiaux, so the production of the text below (at the photo, with Amor) had been one of the first works of this cooperation. The work above, "Le Petit Etteilla" with 33 cards, is given as from c. 1820 and was also printed by Blocquel and Castiaux (Nr. 130 in the catalog).

Blocquel was very successful and made lots of productions. This list notes 393 titles. ... _Site_Note

In the list 15 titles react on "jeux". Les Petit Oracle des Dames is not between them. Also I get nothing for "Etteilla", So this isn't a complete list.


I got pictures of the 1809 book of Blocquel. It isn't identical to the Petit Oracle des Dames text shown by the source.


It's partly a dream book ("Songes" = dreams), which claims to be in relation to a deck with 74 pictures ... which should mean the Petit Oracles des Dames. All 42 card motifs are distributed in the book as black-white pictures, possibly only copied. And their function in the book stays rather unclear, perhaps they are just "decoration".

The dream book is a sort of dream dictionary with (if I counted correctly) 211 entries, which consist of a word and an additional short explanation, and as a "riddle" of 0-3 related numbers. Examples:



I don't know, what these numbers shall mean. I counted, that 0 number was once used, 1 number was used 46 times and 2 numbers were used 28, all others have 3 numbers.

The used numbers range from 1 to 90 ...

I've no explanation for this.

The dream book goes till page 64. Then follows an additional manual to draw cards.


32 cards are used.


Andrea Vitali has between his material also an older version of the Petit Oracle des Dames:


Re: Petit Oracle des Dames, c. 1800

Petit Oracles des Dames "half cards" in the earlier Kaplan collection, sold in 2006 for 180 $ ... ... ID=4740321

Le Petit Oracle des Dames, circa 1807, France, maker unknown, three sheets comprising 51 half cards, hand-colored copper engravings. The cards are full-length figures, double ended, no text on cards, French suits on 32 of the cards, no indices, these sheets are similar to a pack that was first published in 1807 by Veuve Guffier, Paris, that included text for fortune telling on the cards and was called Le Petit Oracle des Dames. Backs plain. Card size 1 11/16 in. (4.3 cm.) high, 2 1/8 in. (5.2 cm.) wide, one card is 2 1/16 in. (5.2 cm.) high, 2 1/8 in. (5.2 cm.) wide. Sheet sizes: 7 in. (18.8 cm.) high, 11 in. (28 cm.) wide, and 7 in. (18.2 cm.), 10 7/8 in. (27.5 cm.) wide, and 7 1/16 in. (18 cm.) high, 6 9/16 in. 16.6 cm.) wide. Slightly worn, two minor creases, minor repair on sides of three cards.
Not easy to recognize something. Luckily a part of the objects are presented by Stuart Kaplan, Encyclopedia I, at page 157.




... rather obviously different to the both other versions. Kaplan wrote, that the cards were once two uncut sheets, so this is a free arrangement of the still existing elements, 51 half cards.

There are no numbers, and no text (Kaplan assumes, that text likely was added in the free space below some cards). "No numbers" and "half cards" would allow the printer to variate the compositions. But the relation between figures and usual playing cards seems to have been always the same (well, we don't see all pictures).

Re: Petit Oracle des Dames, c. 1800

Web material, some book texts and the question about Le Petit Necromancien :

Timeline thread ... tcount=121


Gallica text, dated 1770-1820 ... lla.langEN



bibliotheque Sainte Genevieve ... orsjeu.htm
... contains a short article to Le Petit Oracle des Dames, but it shows actually pictures of Le Petit Cartomancien

First we were confused. I noted:
DDD in a footnote 5 to pages 143-144 (which contain the few information, that is given to the theme of the Petit Oracle des Dames) note:

"Jupiter and Juno serve as "Protector" (No. 2) and Protectress (No. 3), as they already had in the Petit Oracle des Dames."
This information is given in the context of the year 1810 as part of the description of "the nouvel Etteilla or Petit Nécromancien produced by Robert, another Parisien publisher".
Then they add to this deck, which has only 36 cards ... "Only eight of Etteilla's figures were used, however, including Justice (here No. 4), Prudence No. 14) and Death (No. 36)."

And then comes the Footnote 5.

Here is deck version Nr. 4:


Jupiter and Juno as Nr. 2 and 3. Both cards are given by the exhibition catalog 1984 "Tarot, jeu et magie". Only these both cards are given. And this deck was stated as from 1810 in this catalog. But it's clear, that this Jupiter doesn't look like ...


Jupiter version 1.


Jupiter version 2.

... and as the other Jupiter of version 4 should have been only a half card, it also can't be identical.

So ... there are 4 versions, at least.

For 3 of them it is stated (somewhere), that they are from 1807.


Depaulis knew 1984, that the version of 1807 was version 1, which I presented at the start of the thread (contrasting to my earlier opinion, that it somehow appears, as if DDD wouldn't have known this version).
I got some photos from friendly spirits, showing parts of p. 135 of Tarot, Jeu et Magie, the catalog of an exhibition with the same name from 1984.



This is presented with one card (Prudentia, Peuple), which is identical to Prudentia in my version 1, as far I can see it. Further there are details in the text, which confirm the identity. The information is given,that there are 2 old decks of it in different collections. The date seems to have been given by some packing material, also with the information about "Veuve Gueffier".
Well, here's the passage of DDD, with which I've my problems, but also some worthwhile orientation.




There are two red spots ... one states, that the deck of 1807 has at Nr. 9 a strong contradiction to that, what I believe for good reason to be true. Version 1 has at Nr. 9 the common Prudentia and NOT the birth of mankind. And Depaulis had himself given the data to the deck 12 years earlier. So somebody had a typo, who, I don't know. That's my interpretation of the moment.
The other red spot meets the idea, that one should know, that Jupiter had been protector and Nr. 2 in a deck called "Petit Oracle des Dames" before 1810 ... and I've to ask myself: Where and when?

Here we have Jupiter as Nr. 2 and Juno at Nr. 3 in the deck ...

... which by DDD then is called "nouvel Etteilla" or "petit Nécromancien", and it was presented ALSO in the catalog of 1984.



It should have 36 cards (which is given with an "?" by Depaulis) and from these are 8 Etteilla trumps.

1. L'Amour
2. Jupiter
3. Juno
4. Justice
14. Prudence
15. Marriage, Union (should be card Lovers, but Depaulis interprets "Pope" ... likely he had already 1 "Love" given to the lovers, but 23 L'amour isn't a Tarot card inside the Petit Oracle)
25. Depaulis writes Etoile (means Star) and adds an "eclarissement" in brackets (but this is clearly the Sun card in the Petit Oracle).
36. Death

I've here clearly different opinions as Depaulis (1984) in the details (although I don't see the cards) and I would guess, that Steven and others with some competence would agree with me. Something went wrong there in this interpretation.

Back to the major problem:
The only possible explanation seems to be, that a new deck appeared between 1984 and 1996, that (perhaps) was shown in the exhibition 1989 (cards of the revolution) and which was addressed by Wicked Pack of Cards with footnotes to the catalog. The only victim is the reader, who "just" hasn't the catalog at hand and who wasn't at the exhibition. "Wicked Pack of Cards" is, as far the description of the Petit Oracle is concerned, "confusing" or confused and not really informative. I would expect, that the 8 cards should have been named in the text, but they left it aside, likely themselves insecure, hat they shall do with it.

Well, I don't know.
We have with version 2 (Mari's finding, earlier presented) a further deck, which the French library ALSO dates to 1807. This called itself also "Petit Oracle des Dames" (at least the website makes this), and this also contained a Jupiter as No 2 and a Juno as number 3. If DDD had in mind the existence of this deck, the somewhat troublesome footnote 5 becomes explainable.

Now we don't know, what this deck contains .. the description spares for instance the information, if this deck is complete. We seem to see the pictures of 8 cards, 4 of them are Etteilla trumps in my opinion.

2. Jupiter
3. Juno
14. Prudence
30. "Trahison, Perfidie" - treason, but the card motif is the Tarot Hermit with dog and lantern.

Trahison is between the trumps in the Petit Oracle (card 17; cards 1-22 present the trump

[img] ... 16.jpg[img]

The Petit Oracle changed the "Hanging Man" (= Traitor) to Prudence, but then moved the Traitor function to the old Man. And they formed a figure Sagesse , which they crossed with "Fidelity".

[img] ... 16.jpg[img]

Likely Depaulis didn't understand this.

I think, the objects at ... ... orsjeu.htm

... by myself called "Version 4" are not part of a deck, they are just two piece of papers, possibly printed sheets or packing material

The paper at the lower left side has some inscriptions at the right side: you likely can only read them, when you click on the picture and enlarge it.

above: "Nouvel Etteilla - or the Petit Nécromancien"
below: "Le Petit Oracle des Dames"

By the composition of the paper one might easily understand, that these cards are from a "Le Petit Oracle des Dames". But this seems to be wrong, they are simply from the "Nouvel Etteilla".

... :-) ... OOps, difficult birth.

That's all only "my conclusion", the real facts are just rather confusing presented. I attempted to make the best of it. Possibly some contradictions would solve with a deck, which is unknown to me.

Re: Petit Oracle des Dames, c. 1800

The first appearance of Le Petit Oracle des Dames

The research about the first date of the Petit Oracle des Dames happened in numerous and quick interactions between Kwaw, Coredil and myself ... in different threads. I wrote then a summary.
I attempt to write a summary:

An important information is still missing: DDD gives an information about a 66 cards divination deck from 1790, which shall have influenced a part of the Petit Oracle des Dames, the other part is given as influence of the first Etteilla deck from 1788. It naturally would be worthwhile to know that. Information about it should be given in the catalog of an 1989 exhibition, Depaulis: Les cart de la Révolution: cartes à jouer et propaganda, Issy-les-Moulineaux.
Further it might be of interest to see the Mme Finet decks, though I'm skeptic, if this will really improve much.

I've given material to 5 partly fragmented decks, from which two belong to the Etteilla Nouvel or Petit Nécromancien (with 36 cards only) development. The earlier Kaplan fragment might be from another strange variant of the Petit Oracle, but it's fragmented state doesn't allow judgment. Two decks of the 5 confirm each other in the version of 1807. But1807 shouldn't be the original.

Stephen and and me have made some dating exploration, and we found various advertisements for the deck since 1800.
Our online discussion about it took place ...
... and BEFORE this page, starting at ...
.. in POST #146

Inside the discussion we once had the opinion, that the Petit Oracle des Dames existed already in 1797, but it turned out to be a google-error about the calendar of the revolution.
As "oldest advertisement" (for the moment) we have:

inside an announcement content:



I found then these "real announcements":


30 Nivose, an 8 should be 19th of January 1800
... so very short after a new century (19th century) had started. Silvester is always a good time to sell divination decks.

Image ... gC&f=false

PAGE 115


I found another entry in the following year, this time referring to Gueffier: ... es&f=false



I searched for the right book and for page 141: NEGATIVE at Google

15 Pluviose, an 9 should be 4th of February 1801 ... cle.langEN

PAGE 141


In the following year 1802 a lot of entries about the Petit Oracle des Dames exist, makes it easy to find some ... ... 80&bih=883
... though not all. Other requests often lead to other results not included before.

Another year with much advertisement is 1806, possibly there appeared an improved edition (?), also 1820, 1827 and 1841 might be interesting.

Of special value is the information, that these early cards already had the right numbers, 42 cards and 72 /74 pictures. This possibly confirms, that the deck of 1807 is relative near to the version of 1800.
Already in 1801 the name "Gueffier" appears in the advertisements, though it appears not in the first document.

In an advertisement collection given by Fleischer in 1802 the following three notes appear:

Image ... en&f=false

This text, from the year 1802, "Annuaire de la Librairie" by Wilhelm Fleischer presents an object with the name "Le Petit Nécromancien" and we know, that according Depaulis in c. 1810 an object is addressed, which was a card deck (36 cards) with similarities to the Petit Oracle des Dames.
Further is advertised an card deck with 42 "tableaux", and we know that the Petit Oracle des Dames decks have also 42 cards.

The whole possibly indicates, that one publisher (likely from Bordeaux) or "auteur" manufactured all three decks "with similarities" in a creative output, and threw them all around the same time on the market.

Under this condition not only the date of the Petit Oracle des Dames (1807) must be corrected, but also the date for the Petit Nécromancien (1810).

Well, I've difficulties to verify the given reference to "CH. Pougens". The text is at google, but it is a chaos. ... 80&bih=858


The Parisian publisher "Barba", above twice noted, is described here ... ... and=eschol
But no career more vividly illustrates the evolution of key publishers from theater to the novel over the revolutionary period than that of Jean-Nicolas Barba. Barba first appeared in the Palais Royal in 1791, where he took over the fledgling establishment of two old members of the Paris Book Guild, Jean-Nicolas Duchesne and Théodore Dabo.[105] He also bought the huge stock of theater titles that Maradan was forced to sell after his bankruptcy in 1790.[106] Between 1795 and 1799 Barba registered thirty-eight works at the dépôt . His first deposit was Charles-Pierre Ducancel's Thermidorean drama L'Intérieur des comités révolutionnaires . All of his titles were in theater, ranging from serious tragedies like Marie-Joseph Chénier's Azémire or the theatrical rendering of Voltaire's great anticlerical cause in Jean Calas , to comic operas like Severin's Le Villageois qui cherche son veau .

He was also a notorious literary pirate and dealer in pornography. In 1796, he was accused of pirating Philippe Fabre d'Eglantine's Intrigue épistolaire , and in 1797, Migneret's edition of de LaHarpe's Du fanatisme dans la langue révolutionnaire .[107] By 1802 Barba was, as the prefect of Paris described him, "very well known for this kind of trade."[108] Barba also orchestrated numerous illegal editions of the marquis de Sade's Justine , until the police finally discovered his secret warehouse in 1802.[109] Known for driving hard bargains, both legal and illegal, Barba was enormously successful.

By 1795 he had moved to the rue Git-le-coeur, in the heart of the old publishing district, and he maintained a second shop in the Palais Royal. Five years later he also had an outlet nearer to the theater at the Palais du Tribunat. Having founded one of the great publishing fortunes of the revolutionary era through popular theater, pornography, and literary pirating, Barba, too, branched out into the novel, beginning with Guillaume-Charles-Antoine Pigault-Lebrun's libertine romances. By the 1820s Barba had become one of the first editors of Honoré de Balzac.[110] Like Maradan and Migneret, Barba was instrumental in turning Paris publishing from classical theater to the romantic novel, from civic to domestic genres.
Barba seems to work rather near to "theater-life" and the author in Bordeaux ALSO seems to have lived near a theater.

Summary of the Summary:

The first date indicated by announcements is the 19th of January 1800.

There's the natural question: Who made it? ... and we have no answer. There is some indication in the announcement series, that the deck might have come from Bordeaux and that somebody of influence on the production had a connection to "THEATERS".

An important divination deck with 66 cards from 1790 haven't been found. This is said to have influenced the Petit Oracle des Dames. It's noted as described in the catalog of an 1989 exhibition, Depaulis: Les cartes de la Révolution: cartes à jouer et propaganda, Issy-les-Moulineaux.

There are questions about the contribution of Mme Finet.

Le Petit Necromancien might be already from 1802.

There's no indication, what the Le Petit Horoscope des Dames (also 1802) shall have been ... with "42 cartes".

There's some indication by the (possible) production date 1800 (1800 = a new century), that the whole series of new divination decks (Petit Oracle des Dames, Petit Necromancien, Petit Horoscope des Dames) was stimulated by the fact "a new century". There's some indication, that all might have come from the same hand.



I followed the idea, that something came from Bordeaux and that it had something to do with theater, following the address "A Bordeaux, chez l'Auteur, sous le péristile de la grande comédie". I found a remarkable object.
I took an internet visit to the theater in Bordeaux. It indeed exists still with the pictures of c. 1790, though naturally in a reconstructed form. ... e_Bordeaux
picture 1790, engraver artist Poulleau
The Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux was conceived as a temple of the Arts and Light, with a neo-classical facade endowed with a portico of 12 Corinthian style colossal columns which support an entablature on which stand 12 statues that represent the nine Muses and three goddesses (Juno, Venus and Minerva).

The theater become for a short time "French parliament" in 1871, after the loss in the war against Germany. Perhaps it was already before connected to national French feelings.

The style of the deck "Petit Oracle des Dames" is rather obvious similar to thi theater, with Juno and Jupiter. It might be well possible, that an Bordeaux engraving artist was used to this style.

Re: Petit Oracle des Dames, c. 1800

Thank you very much for all the work in bringing this over.
It was posted while I was away from computers.
I have enjoyed the attached thread, becuase I knew nothing of these cards.
Quite amazing some of the images.
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Petit Oracle des Dames, c. 1800

Well, it made sense, cause it was reduced to the more important parts. So there's a better overview.

And I think I found the (or at least one) author or authors ... see

The next step is to find out something about them. There's JACQUES GRASSET SAINT-SAUVEUR, book author and diplomat, F.L. Labrousse and J. Laroque, painter or engravers and possibly both the same man. The father of Jacques has a good biography, the not.

Penthasilea, are you French? Or Canadian?