Antique tarot decks are making a comeback. Restorations of 17th and 18th century packs and cards created in an older style are very desirable these days. I wonder why these decks, so long neglected on this side of the Atlantic, are finally garnering attention.
One idea that comes to mind is that the antique-style decks have an old feel to them. Many people prefer century-old brick houses to the metallic boxes that pass for dwellings in 2012. Could there be a correlation in tarot decks? The sense of tried-and-true and the feeling of being lived with is comforting.
Another thought is that the antique tarot decks aren’t layered with years and years of superstition, philosophy, esotericism, or cutesy themes. Without getting into a pissing contest of the “this deck is purer than that one” kind, the older and older-style cards are elegantly themselves. No excess adornment required. They take us closer to the roots of tarot.
Perhaps using an antique tarot deck unites us with our cartomantic ancestors. A sense of belonging to a lineage comes with employing a Marseille or other older pack. One might perceive oneself as the carrier of a noble tradition.
My very first tarot deck, purchased 33 year ago this month, was/is the 1JJ Swiss pack, a reproduction of a 19th century set of cards. I still treasure it. Other antique-style decks I use a lot include the Jean Noblet Tarot de Marseille (a restoration of a deck from 1650), the Jean Dodal Tarot de Marseille (a restoration of cards from 1701), a version of the Tarot de Marseille by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Phillipe Camoin, and a new black and white Marseille-inspired Majors-only deck called Triomphes MMXII (I love that Enqrique Enriquez and Mary Greer, two contemporary tarot “stars”, are depicted as Trumps I and II respectively).
Since I have a fondness for the High Priestess or Papesse card (Trump II), here are images of that card from the decks I’ve named in the order in which I named them. Enjoy!