View Single Post
MikeH  MikeH is offline
Join Date: 03 Nov 2007
Location: Oregon USA
Posts: 443

Cerulean wrote (from Mary Greer's time-line)
c. 1800 Le Grand Etteilla ou L’Art de Tirer les Cartes by Julia Orsini (Paris).

1838 Grand livre de Thot deck published by Simon Blocquel -- a variation on the Etteilla deck with a book by Julia Orsini called Le Grand Etteilla ou L’Art de Tirer les Cartes. (see 1800).

NOTE: Lismon Etteilla stamped 1890 comes with book by Julia Orsini later....
I have been unable to find any justification for Greer's entry for 1800, asserting the existence at that time of the book ascribed to Julia Orsini called Le Grand Etteilla. Her dating of that book contradicts Decker Depaulis and Dummett, and I can find nothing to support her. They say that this book was published "in 1838, or a trifle earlier" (Wicked Pack of Cards p. 147) with no mention of an earlier edition. They specifically say that the cards reproduced in that book were the invention of the 1838 publisher. They might be wrong, too; they give no justification for their dating either.

My guess is that Greer misread an entry for the book in WorldCat. One of the dated entries there for Orsini's book says "1800s"--in other words, sometime in the 19th century. Other WorldCat entries give 1850 as date of publication for one and later dates for others.

The entry for "1800s" gives two libraries with the book: the Wellcome Institute and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The catalog of the U of N at LV ( has under "publication data" the entry "Paris: Marchands de Nouveautés, [18--?]" and says that the book has 212 pages. The Wellcome Institute ( says "[Paris? : s.n., ca. 1850]" and that the book has 78 pages. These are for the same entry in WorldCat! From the number of pages, one would think they were different publications. The 212 pages do not even include the reproductions of the cards, which add 78 more pages.

The University of Nevada at Las Vegas also owns another edition of the book with the data “Paris: [s.n., ca. 1850]”, according to its catalogue (

I made a point of including Las Vegas in a recent vacation, so I could see what the University of Nevada at Las Vegas actually had, focusing on the one for "18--?". I didn't pay much attention to the one they had for ca. 1850, except to notice that the binding was much better and the size of the pages and typeface much smaller than the other. The one they had for "18--?" has no date in the book itself, as expected. The publication data that it does have lists Paris and Lille as the places of publication in one entry and just Lille in another. The editor (or is it the publisher?) is given Blocquel-Castiaux. It does indeed have 212 pages.

Here are scans of relevant pages. For the left side of the first scan, there is a blank page on the right in the original. For the right side of that scan, the second page with printing in the book, there is a blank page on the left in the original.

And the front and back covers:

These publication data correspond closely to that indicated by Decker et al, except, of course for the part about "1838, or a trifle earlier." Decker et al (p. 147) indicate Blocquel as the publisher and Lille as the place. “Lismon” is one of Blocquel’s pseudonyms, according to Decker et al. It has been speculated that “Julia Orsini” is another pseudonym, but Decker et al think that the evidence suggests otherwise. Castiaux is Blocquel's father-in-law, according to Decker et al.

The cards reproduced in the book (of which I now have copies of all 78) are “Etteilla II,” in the distinction among I, II, and III as advocated by Hoffmann and Kroppenstedt. Etteilla I is Etteilla’s own pack, 1789; Etteilla II the one of 1838, or a trifle earlier, according to Decker et al, associated with “Lismon”; and Etteilla III is later still, c. 1865. It was desggned by G, Regamey, printed in chromolithography by Hangard-Mauge, and published by Blocquel's son-in-law M.-F. Delarue (Decker et al p. 149). [edited on March 24 from what I said originally, that the Etteilla III was "the Editions Dusserre version published by Watilliaux c. 1880 but designed c. 1843." That description actually applies to the "jeu de la princesse," another Etteilla-derived deck.]

Can we say more about the publication date of the U of N’s book, since Decker et al give no rationale for their dating?

At the back of the book is a list of recommended books, scanned below.

I looked them up in WorldCat. The first one, Le Tresor du Vieillard des Pyramides, is in the Bibliotheque Nationale, with publisher Bloquel at Lille, but undated. However a reprint that is part of an anthology published in Montreal 1969 gives “1839 ou c1840” as the date of this edition ( I also looked up the other books on the list; three were in editions by the same publisher, Bloquel at Lille: the Oeuvres Magiques de Corneille Agrippa, “1830”; the Enchiridion Leonis Papae, “1819”; and the Grimoire de Pape Honorius “1820?,” per WorldCat’s information. They are all reprints of earlier works. The others had different publishers, 18th century.

Without other information, we would have to say that the U of N's copy of Julia Orsini's book was probably published in 1839 or a trifle later. Since the editor gives no indication of an earlier edition (as he might have, to show its closeness in time to that of Etteilla), this date would appear to be the earliest known for the book in any edition. I have no idea which copies Decker et al consulted,.

It might pay to consult the copy of the book in Lyon, whih also has 212 pp., or one of the modern French editions, but I am nowhere near the libraries that have them. These modern editions might have better information on the original date of the text than what I have found, information that the library catalog entry writers missed.

But unless there is such information, it seems unlikely that the book was first published anywhere near 1800.
Top   #9