Tarot Trump Imagery

In the survey of Tarot Trump design that follows we have made a number of assumptions in the interest of clarity.

1. We have used the Marseilles Tarot sequence, because this has become the generally accepted standard. There are other orders possible which we discuss in the next chapter.

2. We have chosen as headings the Trump titles which are most widely accepted or at least understood by students of the esoteric Tarot.

3. We have used a line drawn Marseilles design for reference as this is the source from which most esoteric packs derive.

4. We have sought only to cover the main stream of esoteric design. That is, we have omitted the cartomantic packs of Etteilla and his imitators and the Egyptianized designs of the Paul Christian/Falconnier stream.

5. We have not discussed esoteric designs beyond 1910. That is, we have confined ourselves to the three principal packs of the turn of the century, those of Oswald Wirth, the Golden Dawn and A. E. Waite. Most later esoteric packs derive from one or other of these lines of tradition. (See Table 1.)

6. We have structured our remarks into the following broad headings:

a) Hand-Painted Images (i.e. circa 1450-1500)

b) Early Printed Card Tradition (i.e. circa 1500-1700)

Designs after 1700 proliferate wildly according to whims and fashions of card makers and their customers.

c) Esoteric Versions (i.e. occult society based packs of 1889-1910).

d) Commentary - our own notes and observations from study of these designs.

Table x


Mlle. Lenormand and general cartomancy stream

Golden Dawn

Aleister Crowley

Marseilles Tarot

Court de Gobelin

Eliphas Lévi

A. E. Waite de Laurence

Oswald Wirth

Paul Christian


Paul Case Manley Palmer Hall Elbert Benjamine

7. Short titles have been accorded to the packs cited, details of which are as follows:


Visconti Sforza: Pierpoint Morgan Library, New York and

Accademia Carrara, Bergamo. (15 and 5 Trumps) Gringonneur: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. (16 Trumps) D'Este: Gary Collection, University of Yale. (8 Trumps) Fournier Visconti-Sforza: Museo Fournier, Vittoria, Spain. (2 Trumps)

Cary Yale Visconti-Sforza: Cary Collection, University of Yale.

(11 Trumps) Brera: Brera Gallery, Milan. (2 Trumps) Rothschild: Rothschild Collection, The Louvre, Paris. (1 Trump)

Von Bartsch Visconti-Sforza: Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal. (1 Trump)

Collection Piero Tozzi, New York. (4 Trumps)

Victoria & Albert Visconti-Sforza: Victoria & Albert Museum,

London. (2 Trumps) Guildhall: Guildhall, London. (1 Trump) Rosenthal Visconti-Sforza: Rosenthal Collection, London. (5 Trumps)

Castello Ursino: Museo Civico, Castello Ursino, Catania, Italy. (4 Trumps)

Printed Cards and Sheets

Rosenwald: Rosenwald Collection, National Gallery of Art,

Washington, D.C. (5 Trumps, c. 1500) Parisian: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. (22 Trumps, c .1650) Catelin Geofroy: Museum fur Kunshandwerk, Frankfurt. (8

Trumps, 1557) Colonna: British Museum, London. (4 Trumps, c. 1610). Rothschild: Rothschild Collection, The Louvre, Paris. (6

Trumps, c. 1500) Beaux Arts: Bibliothèque de l'École Nationale Supérieur des

Beaux Arts, Paris. (6 Trumps, c. 1500). Italian: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (5 Trumps, c. 1500)

Swiss: J. P. Mayer cards. Cincinnati Art Museum. (6 cards, c. 1680)

Marseilles: Common. Before 1740 to present.


Oswald Wirth: Stanislaus de Guaita & Oswald Wirth, Paris 1889.

A. E. Waite: A. E. Waite and Pamela Coleman-Smith, published by Rider, London 1910

Golden Dawn: S. L. McGregor Mathers and associates, c. 1888, reconstructed by Israel Regardie and Robert Wang 1977, published by U.S. Games Systems Inc., New York.

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