A weird old and trimmed Etteilla III deck


Not long ago I could get an old Etteilla III deck also known as "Le Grand Jeu de l'Oracle des Dames".
This deck is sometimes dated with 1870.
To my knowledge this deck has been reprinted by Dusserre and by Lo Scarabeo.

There are 72 from 78 cards and the deck feels as if it is really very old.
Many cards are quite damaged and the whole deck suffered about humidity or has even been completely wet.
I add some scans to illustrate this thread.

The cards measure 130 mmx 52 mm.
This means that the deck has probably been vertically trimmed.
Several sources for this deck (like Hoffmann / Kroppenstedt "Wahrsagekarten" from 1972) mention 130 mm x 65 mm.
I am not aware of any other source mentioning other dimensions for this deck.

There is a tax stamp on the two of swords, it says: 12 Avril 1890

There are a lot of handwritings, almost on each card.
On some cards the handwriting was even made after the cards has been damaged and the writing is on the backside of the cardback as you can see on the scan of the five of swords!

The cardback is quite particular in this deck as it seems as if the original cards have been at some point glued on an additional cardboard that is black on one side.
Many of the cards have this added black cardback but many other cards have lost it or it maybe has been removed showing then what should probably be the original cardback as you can see on the scans.
There is even one card (seven of swords) that does not have the original cardback anymore and which is glued on a thin sheet of thin paper!

The pattern of the cardback is identical to the pattern used by LS reprint of this deck.
There are scans of the LS reproduction on Trionfi site:
But it does not look like the cardback pattern of the 1870 edition showed also on Trionfi.

Carefully examining the deck one can clearly see that the cards consist of two layers: one thin sheet of paper with the picture glued on a second layer made of thicker beige cardboard with the printed cardback pattern.
On many cards the first layer does not glue anymore to the cardboard and it is possible to see the back of the first layer.
There is nothing on it.

The first layer with the picture is a very fine printing without any finish on it.
It looks and feels like the pages of a well printed older book.
In the previoulsly mentioned book "Wahrsagekarten" Hoffmann describes the printing technik used for this deck as Chromolithographie.

I am indeed aware that only a few people have an original copy of this deck, but if someone does, I am very intrigued how the cards look like or how do they feel, or how is the cardback on other copy.
Any information is welcome ;)

Best regards


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Hello coredil.

It looks like you have a deck that has had its sides trimmed off at some point, at which time the keywords and numbers were lost. (Cut down from 65 to 52 mm)
Perhaps this was someone's attempt to correct them for uneven wear, or perhaps they did it in order to deliberately remove the keywords?

The catalog for the Christie's auction of Kaplan's collection, (June 21, 2006) has three examples:
Lot 63 Backs are solid pink. Several spelling variations are noted. Printed in brighter colors overall.
Lot 64 Backs are a random texture pattern of salmon pink dots. Also printed in brighter colors overall.
Lot 65 Backs are a pattern of pink dots that looks like yours, but it's hard to be absolutely certain because the photo is very small. More muted colors.

All three have the April 12, 1890 tax stamp, and are dated "circa 1900".
All three are 130 x 65 mm.


Hello OnePotato,

thanks a lot for your informations :)

Le Fanu

Wow. Amazing find. I have nothing to add, just my admiration :)


Tarot Egyptien Edition Dussierre reproduction of 1870--per box information

1. Egyptian Tarot Edition Dusserre reproduction:
This deck of 78 cards was published about 1870. The original is held in the collections of the French Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

The Two of Swords with the 1890 tax stamp in the version you have seems to be set exactly the same as my Editions Dusserre that came to me today and an older reproduction copy from Edition Dusserre. I've an older reproduction with only French instructions and no website listing, but my updated version box set that arrived today actually has a website and English translations of Julia Orsini's meanings. I wondered why there is differing information citing 1870 on the Editions Dusserre reproduction box and according to my Grand Etteilla Lismon purchasing experience...hope the information in number 2 might assist...

An 1870-1890 dating could be possible for an older deck...I looked at Kaplan's Encyclopedia Volume II and also the June 2006 Stuart and Marilyn R. Kaplan Collection -- and I think the conservative circa 1900 dating is consistently applied because of the 1890 tax stamp.

2. Taken from a thread on Lismon decks, 1880-1890


It's way too dark and blurry in my phone pix, but Kenji's posted picture of the Two of Swords with the bearded man is the same in mine--although my backs are a checkerboard red pattern and the maker is known to be Lismon. The tax stamp reads Averil (April) and I believe this version is stamped 1880 or 1890--I seem to recall this version as 1880. I need to look in bright daylight. This was a purchase from Intercol London without book--the box with label was in shreds (I just put it in a plastic, sealed baggie for reference).

(1) and (2) are from the April 1880 tax stamp decks

The tax stamp, according to Wolfgang Kunst/Kunze, might have been applied to merchandise printed and stored by Lismon until or before the purchase of Lismon merchandise from Grimaud. The German seller had an 1890 Lismon with box and book and I believe the second soldier without beard is 1890. The back has a kind of wavy or squiggly lines...I think even the blurry photos might show the difference...

...Kenji's deck seems to be 1880 as I try to match his cards with my believed to be 1880 images...

(attached is Kenji's two of swords with tax stamp in Averil 1890)

3. Jeu des Dames Edition Dusserre--no ISBN number is clearly labelled , but my box on the bottom says Editionssussere@wanadoo.fr and has a code:3 5077 050002 8, which may be an ISBN.

I believe a copy of the Jeu des Dames Edition Dusserre is at the site below:


I bought this version from R. Somerville thinking it would be nice to have a copy of the French booklet--I did not know it would come with English translations...unfortunately there is no other history of the deck except the English note on the side of the box...otherwise it is the Kaplan catalogue, Volume II Encyclopedia and Aeclectic.net discussions...

The other two small bits of information on Etteilla III: I am posting links to the wicce.com (Gina Pace Jeu des Dames review) and typing the Paul Husan's dating notes of Etteilla decks...although Wolfgang Kunze or Intercol London might be able to assist people with dating actual older decks.

4. Wicce's review and pictures of the Jeu des Dames with French only booklet--the Two of Swords on the tax stamp is the same on my two Dusserre reproductions.


The Paul Husan excerpt will follow in a separate post, with room there for any other links/texts that might come up.

Best wishes...


I hope the information will be helpful.



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Paul Huson's Mystical Origins of the Tarot

The first Etteilla deck, probably a reproduction of Etteilla's own engraved one,
was published in 1789, two years before his death in 1791. In 1826, a second one appeared, including titles that evoke Masonic concepts. This can be seen in B.P. Grimaud's Grand Etteilla ou Tarots Egyptiens deck. A third appeared in 1838, heralded as Grand Livre du Thot, happily coinciding with an appearance of an explanatory booklet entitled Le Grande Etteilla ou L'art de tirer les cartes ascribed to one "Julia Orsini," proclaimed the "Sibyl of the Fauberg St. Germain." A fourth, this time promoted as 78 Tarots Egyptiens-Grand jeu de L'Oracle des Dames," appeared between 1865 and 1870. This last deck of "Etteilla" cards, completely redrawn and exuding a 19th century Gothic aura that contrasted with the dowdy, rather inept look of the original deck, again altered the symbolism of several of the cards as well as various interpretations."

Paul Huson
Mystical Origins of the Tarot
P.55, Of Cartomancy and Tarot, prior to Etteilla's System...




Etteilla decks

Could someone pls tell me what is the difference between the two decks the Etteilla Thoth deck & the Grand Etteilla Egyptian Gypsies Tarot deck, to give it the full name.? Thanks a lot.


If you go to the URL http://www.tarotgarden.com/database/dbsearchengine.php?search_type=blob&pageenter=0 and in the search box type in Etteilla Thoth, then after you've had a look, Grand Etteilla Egyptian Gypsies Tarot, you'll be able to see the differences. Click on the eye-con on the right to see more scans.

I have a lot of fun with that search engine.

ETA: even with non-historical decks, I love the signs of use on decks, the creases, stains and writing. Not mindless vandalism, more the detritus of time and ownership.

I haunt garage sales because I value it in books, too, so threads that start off as this one did always catch my attention.


Etteilla Thoth tarot

Thanks Nisaba I now see the difference. Does anyone else have this pack? It was the first one I ever had as I discovered it in a used bookstore in the UK where I used to live. I then lost it & have now ordered a replacement as I love the old style pics & the divinations written on the cards. I think its the most picturesque of the older dacks. Does anyone else find this?