Etteilla Timeline and Etteilla card Variants - background


Etteilla 1750-91 and card Variants - background

From Mary Greer's Timeline...and to be amended with Etteilla card types as per known histories.

. 1750 Manuscript (discovered by Franco Pratesi in the late 1980s), that lists cartomantic interpretations for 35 Bolognese tarocchi cards along with a rudimentary method of laying them out. A sheet of 35 Bolognese cards (trumps and number cards) are labeled with simple divinatory meanings such as “journey,” “betrayal,” “married man,” “love.” A later deck of double-headed Bolognese cards from the 1820’s are labeled both top and bottom with divinatory meanings, showing a continuity of use.

c. 1750 Etteilla stated that he learned the art of telling fortunes with playing cards from three cartomancers, one of whom hailed from Piedmont in northern Italy. In 1757 his Piedmontese teacher led him to the tarot, declaring that these cards contained the secrets of all the wisdom of the ancients. [Huson, The True Tarot, recently republished as Mystical Origins of the Tarot].

1751-1753 Three persons in Paris were publicly known as offering their services for divination by playing cards. The practice spread until a cry of sacrilege was raised and was stopped by officialdom. [p 160 W. H. Willshire. 1876. A descriptive catalogue of playing and other cards in the British Museum. (reprinted 1975 by Emmering, Amsterdam)]

1757 Etteilla claimed that his Piedmontese (Italian) teacher first taught him the Tarot in this year.

1760 Nicolas Conver’s Tarot de Marseille-style cards engraved and printed. (Reproduced by House of Camoin in the 1968.)

1765 According to Casanova, his Russian peasant mistress would read the cards every day—laying them out in a square of twenty-five cards.

1770 Jean-Baptiste Alliette (1738-1791 publishes the first treatise on fortune-telling with playing cards: Etteilla, ou maniere de se ré cré r avec un jeu de cartes part M*** (Etteilla, or a Way to Entertain Oneself with a Pack of Cards by Mr***) which includes reversed meanings for the 32 cards. He mentions les Taraux in a list of methods of fortune-telling [Wicked Pack, p. 83].

According to Etteilla “the Book of Thoth had been engraved for posterity by seventeen Hermetic adepts, priests of Thoth, on plates of gold 171 years after the Great Flood, and that these plates had been the prototypes for tarot cards. [Huson, The True Tarot (recently republished as Mystical Origins of the Tarot.]

1770 Krata Repoa or "Initiations into the ancient society of Egyptian priests," published in German (by Von Köppen) as a revelation of a new branch of Freemasonry. Its rituals were clearly based on translations of Graeco-Egyptian texts. (See MP Hall Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians.) A later edition appeared in French in 1778. Dr. John Yarker published the first English edition in a Masonic Journal, The Kneph. Blavatsky claimed it was based on The Ritual of Initiations by Humberto Malhandrini, published in Venice in 1657.

1770 In the spring of 1770, the young Goethe, at this time 20 years of age, went to Strasburg in the Alsace to continue his studies at the university. There he witnessed and himself had a reading of the playing cards by an old woman.

1771 Count Cagliostro (1743-95) appears in London and Paris with his Egyptian Masonic Rite.

1776 American Declaration of Independence and beginning of the American Revolution.

1777 Cagliostro is said to have invented his scheme" of Egyptian Masonry, which would become known as the Egyptian Rite of Freemasonry (see 1782). He claims to have discovered a mysterious document in a London bookstall, written by a "George Cofton."

1778 Volume 5 of Antoine Court de Gébelin’s Le Monde Primitif contains an “Etymological Dictionary of the French Language” in which the old-fashioned form of the word, Tarraux, is listed as a “Game of cards well known in Germany, Italy and Switzerland. It is an Egyptian game, as we shall demonstrate one day; its name is composed of two Oriental words, Tar and Rha, Rho, which mean ‘royal road.’”

1781 The American Revolution ends October 19th. Uranus, first planet to be discovered since Babylonian prehistory, identified March 31 by William Herschel. Russia’s Catherine the Great and Holy Roman Emperor Josef II spilt the Balkans. Los Angeles is founded in California by Spanish settlers. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Mozart is composing.”

1781 8th volume of Le Monde Primitif by Court de Gébelin, claiming Egyptian origin of Tarot, as a book of wisdom. Includes an essay by le Comte de M*** [Mellet] which explains how to use the cards for divination. De Gébelin says there are 22 Trumps just as there are 22 Hebrew letters. Le Comte de Mellet gives only the following correspondences (based on the cards running in a descending order): The Sun = Gimel (signifying "recompense or happiness"); The Devil = Zain ("inconstancy, error or crime"); Death = Teth ("the action of sweeping"); Fortune = Lamed ("law or science"); The Fool = Tau . We can assume that The World = Aleph, Judgment = Beth, etc. De Mellet also uses these significances for divinatory purposes. It is de Mellet also who first changes coins to "talismans" (pantacles) which is later developed by Éliphas Lévi.

According to Court de Gébelin the cards were:

0 - Le Fou

I - Le Joueur de Gobelets (Thimble-rigger), ou Bateleur (Juggler, Montebank)

Chefs Temporels & Spirituels de la Société

II - Roi

III - Reine

IV - Grand Prêtre (Chef des Hiérophantes)

V - Grande Prêtresse

VI - Le Mariage

VII - Osiris Triomphant

Planche V. No. VIII, XI, XII, XIIII: Les quatre VERTUS Cardinales

XI - La Force [coming to the aid of Prudence. Moakley]

XIIII - La Tempérance.

VIII - La Justice

XII - La Prudence

IX - Le Sage ou le Chercheur de la Vérité & du Juste. [Seeking Justice. Moakley]

XIX - Le Soleil

XVIII - La Lune (Tears of Isis). Creation of the Moon & Terrestrial Animals

XVII - La Canicule (Dog-star) Sirius (Sothis). Creation of the Stars & Fishes

XIII - La Mort

XV - Typhon

XVI - Maison-Dieu, ou Château de Plutus. [House of God overturned, with man and woman precipitated from the earthly Paradise. Moakley]

X - La Roue de Fortune

Planche VIII:

XX - Le Jugement Dernier (Last Judgment) ou La Création

X - Le Tems ou le Monde, représenreroit le Globe de la Terre & ses révolutions. [Moakley says “The Word”]

1782 Etteilla applies to the Royal censor to publish Cartonomanie Egiptienne, ou interpré taton de 78 hieroglipes qui sont sur les cartes nommé es Tarots (Egyptian Cartonomania, or Interpretation of the 78 hieroglyphs which are on the cards called Tarots). He is refused.

1782 Cagliostro founds his Egyptian Rite Lodge combined with a private temple of Isis at which Cagliostro is High Priest. His researches consist of a body of knowledge known as the Arcana Arcanorum, or A. A., and basing his "internal alchemy” on Tantrik techniques from German Rosicrucian lodges.

1783-86 Publication of Etteilla’s Manière de se ré créer avec le Jeu de Cartes nommées Tarots (A way to entertain onesel with the pack of cards called Tarots) in four parts. He claims it was devised by a committee of seventeen magi, presided over by Hermes Trismegistus nearly 4,000 years before. The first copy was inscribed on leaves of gold which were disposed about a fire temple at Memphis. [3Ds, pp. 83-85] His recreation of the deck has the first 12 cards based on the creation myths in the Divine Pymander, and on astrology, as he felt Tarot could be consulted in an astrological manner.

1789 Publication of the first Etteilla deck. Available as the Grand Etteilla deck from Grimaud since 1982. The Trumps and all astrological correspondences are as follows:

1 - Etteilla - Le Consultant (Male). Aries. (Papus says this is "special to the Tarot of Etteilla" - I'd make it the Bateleur (as does Edmond))

2 - Eclaircissement (Enlightenment/Fire). Taurus. (Papus: Sun)

3 - Propos (Discussion/Water). Gemini. (Papus: Moon)

4 - Dépouillement (Loss/Air). Cancer. (Papus: Star)

5 - Voyage (Travel/Earth). Leo. (Papus: World)

6 - Nuit (Night/Day). Virgo. (Papus: Empress - I'd make it the Popess)

7 - Appui (Support/Protection). Libra. (Papus: Emperor)

8 - Etteilla - Le Consultante (Female). Scorpio. (Papus: Popess - I'd make it the Empress)

9 - La Justice (Justice/Jurist). Sagittarius. (Papus: Justice)

10 - La Tempérance (Temperance/Priest). Capricorn. (Papus: Temperance)

11 - La Force (Strength/Monarch). Aquarius. (Papus: Force, i.e., Strength)

12 - La Prudence (Prudence/The Masses). Pisces. (Papus: Hanged Man)

13 - Mariage (Marriage/Union). (Papus: Lovers)

14 - Force Majeure (Absolute Necessity/Absolute Necessity). (Papus: Devil)

15 - Maladie (Illness/Illness). (Papus: Bateleur - I'd make it the Pope - it shows the same person as performed the Marriage (in bishop's fish-hat) holding a wand over an altar table with ram's heads on the corners; one of the reversed meanings is "Mage".

16 - Jugement (Judgment/Judgment). (Papus: Judgment)

17 - Mortalité (Death/Nothingness). (Papus: Death)

18 - Traître (Traitor/Traitor). (Papus: Hermit)

19 - Détresse or Misere (Poverty/Prison). (Papus: Tower)

20 - Fortune (Fortune/Raise). (Papus: Wheel of Fortune)

21 - Dissension (Disagreement/Disagreement). (Papus: Chariot)

68 - Ten of Coins = Part of Fortune

69 - Nine of Coins = South Node

70 - Eight of Coins = North Node

71 - Seven of Coins = Saturn

72 - Six of Coins = Jupiter

73 - Five of Coins = Mars

74 - Four of Coins = Moon

75 - Three of Coins = Venus

76 - Two of Coins = Mercury

77 - Ace of Coins = Sun

1789 Cagliostro arrested in Rome and condemned to death as a heretic (the sentence is commuted and he dies in prison in 1795).

1789 Beginning of the French Revolution. Storming of the Bastille - 14 July.



1791-1843 Etteilla's death/Deck notes-1800/1826

NOTE: plans to edit to insert deck variations/deck dates for Etteilla fans

1791 Etteilla dies. Publication of Dictionnaire Synonimique du Livre de Thot (Thesaurus of the Book of Thoth) by Anonymous, but possibly a pupil of Etteilla’s, retired army officer le Chevalier Pierre-Joseph Joubert de la Salette. (Decker, et al, and Huson, The True Tarot, recently republished as The Mystical Origins of the Tarot].

late 18th c? French copperplate deck with 21 extant cards, called by Kaplan, the Grandprêtre Tarot. It appears to be the first deck using the titles High Priest and High Priestess: Le grandprêtre and La grandprêtresse. La prudence replaces the Hanged Man and shows him upright. Card XV is untitled but depicts the Fool instead of the Devil (or could be a combination). [Kaplan, ii, p.194].

...major writers of cartomancy insisted the proper cards to use for this were Tarots....three varieties:

German Tarots

Italian Tarots (not produced in Italy but a traditional form used in France and elsewhere) such as the Tarot de Marseille, Tarot de Besancon and Belgian with Italian suit signs

The third was Egyptian Tarots by which was meant Etteilla's cards and others in that tradition. Until 1889, when French writers on cartomancy deigned to notice the first two varieties of Tarots, they invariably insisted that only the "Egyptian ones are suitable for foretelling the future

End Insertion

c. 1800 Le Grand Etteilla ou L’Art de Tirer les Cartes by Julia Orsini (Paris).

1804-1807 Melchior Montmignon D’Odoucet issues the three volume Science des Signes, ou médecine de l’esprit, connue sous le nom de tirer les cartes, (The Science of Signs, or medicine for the mind, known under the name of card drawing), based on the work of Etteilla. This lays the ground work for Minor Arcana interpretations today. [Huson, The True Tarot, recently republished as The Mystical Origins of the Tarot]

1810 Eliphas Levi born: revolutionary, ex-priest, magician, scholar. Dies 1875.

1811 Paul Christian born. Real name: Jean-Baptiste Pitois. Dies 1877.

1814 Les Souvenirs Prophétiques d’Une Sibylle, Sur les Causes Sécrètes de son Arrestation, Le 11 Décembre 1809 by Mlle. M.yb
A. Le Normand (Paris).

1826 Parisian publisher Pierre Mongie republishes Etteilla’s original deck but with Freemasonic sounding titles on the cards. (now Grimaud’s Grand Etteilla Tarot).


This version was printed from the original copper plates, which had been altered to erase the corner symbols (but not the numbers of the cards) and add to most of the trumps, court cards and Aces new legends in cursive script, inside the frames of the pictorial designs, thus conferring on them names with a Biblical or Masonic flavo, such as "Hiram's Masonry" (card 2), "Solomon" (card 9), "Rehoboam (card 21) and 'the Cup of Balthasar" card 49, the Ace of Cups)...The label goes on to advertise a book...The book...Almost the whole section of the book devoted to the Egyptian Tarots is reprinted in an unattributed pamphlet entitled Grand Etteilla issued by Grimaud with the version of Grand Etteilla I they have been producing for many years...

End Insertion

1838 Grand livre de Thot deck published by Simon Blocquel -- a variation on the Etteilla deck with a book by Julia Orsini called Le Grand Etteilla ou L’Art de Tirer les Cartes. (see 1800).

NOTE: Lismon Etteilla stamped 1890 comes with book by Julia Orsini later...

1843 Jeu de la Princesse Tarot first published as book illustrations. Reprinted as Cartomanzia Italiana by Edizioni del Solleone in 1983. (There is a much better reprint of Jeu de la Princesse by Éditions Dusserre, Paris, circa 1998-2001. Reprinted after the first edition issued by Charles Wattiliaux in 1860. Lo Scarabeo has a reprint too.--K. Frank Jensen)


Cerulean said:

From Mary Greer's Timeline...and to be amended with Etteilla card types as per known histories.
Cerulean - Fabulous - I'm so glad you are updating this material. What a wonderful resource.

Pictures can be embedded directly in this forum so it would be nice to have a front and back image of all the decks. Maybe someone else can help with that as I only have the 1890? basketweave-back Etteilla and some modern Grimaud reprints.



Getting my list together

I was going to try to figure the embedding images took me a few weeks to gather my reproductions, the 2006 Christie's catalogue and few authentic period Etteilla decks. It was not until recently the differences between the Lismon and circa 1900 BP Grimaud really caught my attention.

A recent thread and searches online seemed to indicate Thierens collection of keyword meanings seemed rather close at least to the Jeu des Dames (Etteilla III) minors noted on the card. I was going to compare what Kaplan calls 1900 BP Grimaud with the swirling blue sun back keywords with the circa 1970 Grimaud booklet(others here date this pre-1900 because there is no tax stamp and my Lismon's tax stamp is 1890 at the latest)

I will compare the Lismon keywords with the Editions Dussere keywords with the Julia Orsini translations. The Julia Orsini booklet by Editions Duserre is straight cartomancy. I do not remember this booklet using the Grimaud booklet terms such as Hirams Key, Solomon, it lacks Bible or what Decker and Dummett call Biblical and Freemasonry terms.

Small steps as questions come up.



The Julia Orsini booklet by Editions Duserre is straight cartomancy.
So The Mystical Origins of the Tarot maybe has the original (or nearly...) meanings.

It's a great pity when the 'development' of something obscures its' origins. You'd think we would have learned that by now.

Great resource Cerulean.

Bee :)


I am sorry -- too much has changed as of 2011- my Etteilla decks differ

I use Editions Dusserre or Papus' Divinatory Tarot. I reported Lismon Etteilla 1890 differences with Grimaud 1900 and similiarities in the Modiano 184 1948 thread and attachedfree lists of keyword meanings there from the French Ettiella decks and Papus and Modiano 184 1948.

I believe those who want general summaries will find my suggestions very narrow, as my comparisons lately are historical within limited means.

No, I do not use Husan for Eudes Picard or Etteilla. The links or attachments in my Modiano 184 1948 thread gives more direct comparisons or information if you care to be befuddled in these fussy bits!


The listing of Etteilla cards in #1 does not include 78/0 Madness/Folly... ?


Hello Kraw, your mailbox is full so I had to ask this here

Do you mean the copied excerpt in post number one from Mary Greer's Timeline that she lists as Jeu/Fool as 0? I haven't changed her text.

I am sorry if I haven't made clear which excerpt from her timeline leads into my notes, if you are asking what her text means. Please let me know.

Or do you mean you want to know what I now find attributed to Card Zero or #1 in my Etteilla Lismon 1890 or Etteilla Grimaud 1900 or the Editions Dusserre booklet? I will look that up for you if you are asking me to check my decks/booklet.

Card 77 is Perfect Contentment, Ace of Disks. Card One is Consultant. Card 21 is African Despot with Dissension upright, Arrogance reversed. Are you asking me if there is a Madman in the Etteilla tarots? I looked quickly and did not see it in the 1890/1900 Etteilla tarots. If I find one in the Editions Dusserre booklet, I will let you know.

In Card 78 of the 1890 Lismon Etteilla, there is "Folie of the Alchemist" and in the Grimaud 1900 Etteilla the "Folie" is upright and reversed with what looks to be a small circle on both ends upright and reversed--so at the ends, you could think this was a zero. This is a begger hunched over with a mountain top in the distance that he is facing and the spotted cat is munching on the back of his knee.

I have been looking at so many sources for my Etteilla/Modiano 184/Papus Divinatory Tarot comparisons, I am sorry that I am wondering what number one you are asking me to check asked a simple question, I know, but I am comparing different Italian/French decks and books these days.



Cerulean wrote (from Mary Greer's time-line)
c. 1800 Le Grand Etteilla ou L’Art de Tirer les Cartes by Julia Orsini (Paris).

1838 Grand livre de Thot deck published by Simon Blocquel -- a variation on the Etteilla deck with a book by Julia Orsini called Le Grand Etteilla ou L’Art de Tirer les Cartes. (see 1800).

NOTE: Lismon Etteilla stamped 1890 comes with book by Julia Orsini later....
I have been unable to find any justification for Greer's entry for 1800, asserting the existence at that time of the book ascribed to Julia Orsini called Le Grand Etteilla. Her dating of that book contradicts Decker Depaulis and Dummett, and I can find nothing to support her. They say that this book was published "in 1838, or a trifle earlier" (Wicked Pack of Cards p. 147) with no mention of an earlier edition. They specifically say that the cards reproduced in that book were the invention of the 1838 publisher. They might be wrong, too; they give no justification for their dating either.

My guess is that Greer misread an entry for the book in WorldCat. One of the dated entries there for Orsini's book says "1800s"--in other words, sometime in the 19th century. Other WorldCat entries give 1850 as date of publication for one and later dates for others.

The entry for "1800s" gives two libraries with the book: the Wellcome Institute and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The catalog of the U of N at LV ( has under "publication data" the entry "Paris: Marchands de Nouveautés, [18--?]" and says that the book has 212 pages. The Wellcome Institute ( says "[Paris? : s.n., ca. 1850]" and that the book has 78 pages. These are for the same entry in WorldCat! From the number of pages, one would think they were different publications. The 212 pages do not even include the reproductions of the cards, which add 78 more pages.

The University of Nevada at Las Vegas also owns another edition of the book with the data “Paris: [s.n., ca. 1850]”, according to its catalogue (

I made a point of including Las Vegas in a recent vacation, so I could see what the University of Nevada at Las Vegas actually had, focusing on the one for "18--?". I didn't pay much attention to the one they had for ca. 1850, except to notice that the binding was much better and the size of the pages and typeface much smaller than the other. The one they had for "18--?" has no date in the book itself, as expected. The publication data that it does have lists Paris and Lille as the places of publication in one entry and just Lille in another. The editor (or is it the publisher?) is given Blocquel-Castiaux. It does indeed have 212 pages.

Here are scans of relevant pages. For the left side of the first scan, there is a blank page on the right in the original. For the right side of that scan, the second page with printing in the book, there is a blank page on the left in the original.




And the front and back covers:


These publication data correspond closely to that indicated by Decker et al, except, of course for the part about "1838, or a trifle earlier." Decker et al (p. 147) indicate Blocquel as the publisher and Lille as the place. “Lismon” is one of Blocquel’s pseudonyms, according to Decker et al. It has been speculated that “Julia Orsini” is another pseudonym, but Decker et al think that the evidence suggests otherwise. Castiaux is Blocquel's father-in-law, according to Decker et al.

The cards reproduced in the book (of which I now have copies of all 78) are “Etteilla II,” in the distinction among I, II, and III as advocated by Hoffmann and Kroppenstedt. Etteilla I is Etteilla’s own pack, 1789; Etteilla II the one of 1838, or a trifle earlier, according to Decker et al, associated with “Lismon”; and Etteilla III is later still, c. 1865. It was desggned by G, Regamey, printed in chromolithography by Hangard-Mauge, and published by Blocquel's son-in-law M.-F. Delarue (Decker et al p. 149). [edited on March 24 from what I said originally, that the Etteilla III was "the Editions Dusserre version published by Watilliaux c. 1880 but designed c. 1843." That description actually applies to the "jeu de la princesse," another Etteilla-derived deck.]

Can we say more about the publication date of the U of N’s book, since Decker et al give no rationale for their dating?

At the back of the book is a list of recommended books, scanned below.


I looked them up in WorldCat. The first one, Le Tresor du Vieillard des Pyramides, is in the Bibliotheque Nationale, with publisher Bloquel at Lille, but undated. However a reprint that is part of an anthology published in Montreal 1969 gives “1839 ou c1840” as the date of this edition ( I also looked up the other books on the list; three were in editions by the same publisher, Bloquel at Lille: the Oeuvres Magiques de Corneille Agrippa, “1830”; the Enchiridion Leonis Papae, “1819”; and the Grimoire de Pape Honorius “1820?,” per WorldCat’s information. They are all reprints of earlier works. The others had different publishers, 18th century.

Without other information, we would have to say that the U of N's copy of Julia Orsini's book was probably published in 1839 or a trifle later. Since the editor gives no indication of an earlier edition (as he might have, to show its closeness in time to that of Etteilla), this date would appear to be the earliest known for the book in any edition. I have no idea which copies Decker et al consulted,.

It might pay to consult the copy of the book in Lyon, whih also has 212 pp., or one of the modern French editions, but I am nowhere near the libraries that have them. These modern editions might have better information on the original date of the text than what I have found, information that the library catalog entry writers missed.

But unless there is such information, it seems unlikely that the book was first published anywhere near 1800.


I really appreciate all this information. I don't remember where I got the 1800 date - but that's what the "c" is about. It stands for "circa" 1800. It seems that most people now give a date of 1838 as you said. Again - thanks for all of the above.