Catelin Geofroy 1557 Lyons

John Meador

I am interested in learning more about this deck. It is said to derive from the "hunting" decks, although I'm not sure about this in relation to the trumps. The extant suits are parrots(hearts)climbing roses, peacocks sporting on vineshoots(clubs?) and lions within a cartouche. The missing suit is thought to be monkeys, since this deck is said to derive from that of Virgil Solis(1514-1562) Nuremberg, 1544: 52 cards from copperplate.
The Geofroy deck is numbered. The Papesse holds a closed book in her right hand with a single key in her left. As far as I know, only the Rosenwald sheets(Florence) has a Papesse as such.
Are any sources available in color that depict all the extant cards?
Here are some interesting links to Virgil Solis:

Les Planètes
Les neufs Muses

The harp on the shield of the coat of arms indicates that the elderly king with flowing locks and beard on top of a helmet is the biblical King David.

Ovid: Metamorphoses
Illustrated by Virgil Solis

Virgil Solis
Das Haupt des Orpheus
1563|1609, HS


Only in passing, few references

1. One listing of where they are now, a Frankfurt Museum:

2. Only text listing on some design notes:
At least in historical context, there are two mentions in the Marseilles pages, actually under the Tarot de Paris description:

Although the latter never became popular in France, their eye-catching illustrations had certainly stirred the attention of the local card makers: the earliest French tarot known, some cards of which are extant, was a fancy edition made in Lyon in 1557, now referred to as tarot of Geofroy Catelin after the maker, with animals in place of the usual suit signs, clearly inspired by the hunting card fashion.

In the Tarot de Paris several subjects are consistent with the southern French or Marseille scheme, but some others differ, both for their design and for the featured subjects. Furthermore, all the suit cards are designed in a rather glamorous, almost whimsical fashion, suggesting that this tarot too, as the aforesaid one of Geofrey Catelin, was a fancy edition, with non-traditional illustrations yet based on the same themes found in standard packs.
The description appears right next to map where the regional patterns and paths are traced.

In context, this was a variation, a rather lovely one. Andy Pollett's pages could use a nice page devoted to this variation--although I just read these notes with admiration, this is all I can find online with some historical analysis.

I do see they are mentioned in passing in terms of their numbering scheme, being a very early Marseilles variation, etc., but I haven't come across the pictures you asked about online. Do you need book citations?


John Meador

Catelin Geofroy Lyon 1557-unique?

Hi Mari,
I too have seen the online references you direct our attention to. In addition, we find:
What source are these color versions scanned from? Book citations that discuss this deck, recogntition of the parallel in the Rosenwald between the Papesse of both, or discussion of the Virgil Solis as suit exemplar would be helpful. Above all, information about Catelin Geofroy the card maker(and son?) would be interesting. I have the Kaplan encyclopedias but they don't cover much here, and claims an Ace of Falcons,(see: K. II, p188, 197)
when the extant suits are parrots, lions, peacocks.

Michael Hurst's excellent site tells us:
"According to Michael Dummett, "The earliest known French reference to tarot cards is to their manufacture at Lyon in 1507." (TT 50.)

This makes me wonder about the nature of these decks in early 16th C. Lyon-and especially how the Geofroy's World card appeared on inspection.



The twelve cards in color

Are shown as pictures but only briefly described in a gift book that ranges from $7.00 used to $14.00 new. My quote on the printed pack follows:

Chapter 2: The Popularization of Tarot: The 16th and 17th Centuries

The sixteenth century saw the spread of tarot outside of Italy and beyond the aristocracy. Although thousands of cards were printed in the sixteenth century, only a few survive, including twelve trump cards from a 1557 tarot deck by Catelin Geoffry, a celebrated card maker who worked in the French city of Lyons. Like most tarot cards made after 1500, his was produced from large, inked woodblocks that imprinted the designs for several cards at once on a large sheet of paper or cardboard. The cards were then colored by stencil or free-hand, and the sheet was cut into individual cards.
Numbers and titles first appeared on tarot cards in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; this development speeded the standardization of the tarot deck. The trumps are numbered in the Geoffry deck; and a deck printed in Parisin the seventeenth century carries not ony numbers at the bottom of each trump card but also names in French (with many unusual spellings), pages 106-25.
These two paragraphs are the only descriptions that I know of right now that might give a bit more information. The twelve cards in minature are pictured in color in the book with this description:...from Catelin Geoffry Tarot, c. 1557, Catelin Geoffrey n.d. Woodcut on paper, four and 7/8 inches by two and three and 5/8 inches or 12.5 x 6.8 cm) Museum fur Kunsthandwerk, Offenbach, Germany. The twelve cards pictured are the Montebank, Popesse, Empress, Emporer, Pope, Chariot, Hermit, Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, Lightening and Judgment.

The Art of the Tarot
Christina Oleson
ISBN 0-7892-0016-3

You should be able to order it at or The good thing about this book is that you have many other color copies of classic decks also included.

Hope this helps. I don't have any additional French citations, as most of my other reference are only dedicated to Ferarra of the 1400s.

Mari Hoshizaki


Where can I find a printed version?

Does anyone know where I can find a printed version of the Catelin*Geoffroy*deck of 1557?