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Alphabetic Numerals

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Alphabetic Numerals


Alphabetic Numerals

Four of the Roman Numerals in the Majors may be
written old or new style, long or short:

IIII-IV
VIIII-IX
XIIII-XIV
XVIIII-XIX

But when using the modern short form, the alphabetical order
of the numerals changes, simply by an alpha-numeric collation.

In the examples below: I=a V=b X=c


Old style, long Numerals with alpha codes:

I a
II aa
III aaa
IIII aaaa

V b
VI ba
VII baa
VIII baaa
VIIII baaaa

X c
XI ca
XII caa
XIII caaa
XIIII caaaa

XV cb
XVI cba
XVII cbaa
XVIII cbaaa
XVIIII cbaaaa

XX cc
XXI cca


New style, short Numeral style:

I a
II aa
III aaa
IV ab

V b
VI ba
VII baa
VIII baaa
IX ac

X c
XI ca
XII caa
XIII caaa
XIV cab

XV cb
XVI cba
XVII cbaa
XVIII cbaaa
XIX cac

XX cc
XXI cca


Automatic Alphabetical Re-Ordering:

I a
II aa
III aaa
IV ab
IX ac (alphabetically correct, numerically out of order)
V b
VI ba
VII baa
VIII baaa
X c
XI ca
XII caa
XIII caaa
XIV cab
XIX cac (alphabetically correct, numerically out of order)
XV cb
XVI cba
XVII cbaa
XVIII cbaaa
XX cc
XXI cca
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What came to my mind was that by writing out the numerals
they are thus correct in two ways, alphabetically being one.

That a IIII is superior to a IV may be historically debated,
but this is about Tarot, and little things often mean a lot.

VIIII jumps out of place as IX and so does XVIIII if as XIX.
And what about Readers who use reversals... IX XI ~ etc!

Numbers are funny things even just as physical markings.
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It may also be remembered that on some Marseille style decks (which use the additive form of Roman numeration), XII is written as IIX...

After all, 1+1+10 = 10+1+1

XIX is thus, in additive Roman, twenty-one, and would not have been used.
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Le Tarot de Jean Dodal PIPS


Baton II III IIII V IV IIV VIII IIIIV X
Epees II III IIII V IV IIV VIII VIIII X
Coupe - III --- V VI --- VIII VIIII X
Denier ~ sans numerals


This seems to have been done >intentionally< to confound
as to a fixed pattern ~even by directional Coupes varying so.
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Having but done little lino cuts (the modern-day equivalent to woodcuts), it seems to me that it is quite easy - perhaps overly so - to forget to 'inverse' the numerals, but be far more careful with the inverted imagery required.

Perhaps there is intent in presenting some numerals as IIV instead of VII... or perhaps it mattered little... as addition is addition...
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God is in the details.
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