Who's your grandaddy?

[This post was first published on 30 August 2012.]

In the mid 19th century, after the death of the famous French cartomancer Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand (1772-1843), German publishers used her name to sell fortune-telling decks of 36 cards based on a deck designed at the turn of the century by Johann Kaspar Hechtel (1771-1799) from Nuremberg in southern Germany.

Below is a timeline of events relating to some early decks:

♦ Bieling in Nuremberg advertises the Hechtel deck: "Hechtel, JK - The Game of Hope, a pleasant parlour game, with 36 illuminated figure cards, cased" {"Hechtels, JK - das Spiel der Hoffnung, eine angenehme Gesellschaftsunterhaltung, mit 36 illumirten Figurenkarten, gebunden"}.
♦ The original game instructions preserved in the British Museum are titled Das Spiel der Hofnung, mit einer neuen Figurenkarte von 36 illum. Blättern, i.e. the Game of Hope, with new figure cards of 36 illuminated cards.
♦ Reference: Schreiber German 192, British Museum. Techniques: letterpress, hand-coloured, etching.
♦ The deck was reproduced by Tarot Professionals in 2012 and Lauren Forestell in 2013, under licence from the British Museum.

1799: Hechtel dies aged 28 in Nuremberg in a smallpox epidemic.

1843: Lenormand dies aged 71 in Paris.

♦ Reiff in Coblenz publishes a so-called Lenormand deck: "Explanation of the card game of the famous fortune teller Mlle Lenormand in Paris. Issued by her heirs Chator. (36 illuminated cards and text). Cased." {"Erklärung des Kartenspiels der berühmten Wahrsagerin Mlle. Lenormand in Paris. Herausgegeben von deren Erben Chator. (36 illuminierten Karten und Text). In Etui."}.
♦ Reference: No. 11200, Lenormand Museum.

♦ A Lenormand deck dated c1850 from the collection of the late antiquarian Erwin Kohlmann from Naumburg closely resembles the 1846 deck above. You can see some images of early decks with this pattern here and here titled: "Card game of the famous fortune-teller Mlle Lenormand in Paris" {"Kartenspiel der berühmten Wahr­sagerinn Mlle. Lenormand in Paris"}.
♦ Reference: No. 50, Hoffmann and Kroppenstedt*. Techniques: copper engraving, with coloured stencil {"Kupferstich, mit der Schablone koloriert"} per Hoffmann and Kroppenstedt*, lithography, coloured stencil {"lithographie, couleurs au pochoir"} per auctioneer PIASA in Paris.
♦ The deck was reproduced by publisher Buchverlag für die Frau in 1982 and 2011 (the 2011 edition by Alexander Glück is currently available, I translated the explanation pamphlet into English here).

♦ Literatur- und Kunst- Comptoir (Streerath u. Co.) in Berlin advertises another "Lenormand" deck: "Cards of the fortune teller Lenormand from Paris, with which this most famous fortune teller of her century predicted the most important events of the future. 36 of her lithographed cards, in addition to an easily comprehensible explanation, by which it is possible for everyone to gain knowledge of their future, in an elegantly fitted case ... With these cards Mlle Lenormand announced the future greatness of Napoleon, as well as the downfall of many princes and great ones. Mlle Lenormand indicated 1840 as the year of death of Frederick William III." {"Karten der Wahrsagerin Lenormand aus Paris, mit denen dieses berühmteste Wahrsagerin ihres Jahrhundert die wichtigsten Ereignisse der Zukunft vorhergesagt. 36 seiner lithographirte Karten, nebst einer leichtfaßlichen Erklärung, wodurch es Jedem möglich ist, seine Zukunft kennen zu lernen, in elegant ausgestattetem Etui ... Mit diesen Karten verkündete Mlle. Lenormand Napoleon seine zukünftige Größe, sowie vielen Fürsten und Großen ihren Untergang. Friedrich Wilhelm III. wurde von der Mlle. Lenormand 1840 als das Jahr seines Todes bezeichnet."}. You can see an example of this advertisement in a Berlin newspaper Volks-Zeitung via Google Books here and the publication listing via Google Books here.
♦ Reference: No. 52, Hoffmann and Kroppenstedt*. Techniques: letterpress/printing, with coloured stencil {"Buchdruck, mit der Schablone koloriert"}.
♦ There have been several reproductions of this deck, including the currently available 2004 edition by Bernd A Mertz published by Südwest Verlag which is a reproduction of a deck in the Deutsches Spielkarten Museum in Leinfelden-Echterdingen.

*Wahrsagekarten, Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Okkultismus (Deutsches Spielkarten Museum in Bielefeld e.V., 1972) by Detlef Hoffmann and Erika Kroppenstedt

A wide variety of Lenormand decks descending from the Hechtel deck has been published throughout Europe and the rest of the world since then. These decks contain the same numbering, symbols and playing card associations as the Hechtel deck. The main differences are the disappearance of the German playing card insets, which help explain the cartomantic associations, the disappearance of the wigs and 18th century tricorn hats (replaced by 19th century top hats), differences in artwork and differences in accompanying text.

The card illustrations below corresponding to the timeline above are all from reproduction decks except for the antique deck shown second (images of this deck used with kind permission of Wolfgang Kunze of spielkartenonline, you can see more card images from this deck in another post.) I have shown the Man (#28) and Woman (#29) cards to show fashions and the Tower (#19) and Mice (#23) cards as these two cards help to differentiate between early decks. Unfortunately the Tower card was missing from the antique deck.

1799 (illustrated by Tarot Professionals reproduction, The Original Lenormand):

1846 (illustrated by antique deck):

c1850 (illustrated by Glück reproduction):

1854 (illustrated by Mertz reproduction):

You can view a wide variety of antique and modern Lenormand decks in the online Lenormand Museum of Holger Klinzmann and Uta Dittrich from Nuremberg.