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Camoin Donation

1971: Marseilles inherits the legacy of the last Master Cardmaker

Cards from diverse origins and eras, tools used in the manufacture of decks for over two hundred years, scattered all over France… The Camoin House (last factory of the Marseillan Master Cardmaker) and its partners did not want that to happen. What better gift for the city of Marseilles than to inherit, in 1971, the legacy of the last factory of playing cards which closed its doors.

The precious collection rests, displayed in 1975 in the windows of the museum of Old Marseilles, in the Diamantee House (16th century) behind the City Hall. Cards from France and other countries make up the thread of the economic history of the Marseillan factory: the Tarot, the "To-Tom" deck used in North Vietnam, the "Three Chrysanthemums" of Haiphong, the cards of the 19th century…

Around a hundred objects and documents complete the donation: the templates of the Tarot de Marseille of Nicolas Conver, an electrotyping printing plate for the portraits of the french cards, and many other tools used by the engraving workers. Small and large chisels, gouges and planes, and agathes, which were for cutting or rounding and polishing the corners of the cards, make up the range of material used since the creation of the factory in 1760. A painting of the Camoin studio, painted in 1861, recounts a snapshot of life in the manufacture of cards. It is a precious document which shows the conversion of a Master Cardmaker to mechanization.

Closed to the public for several years, the Museum of Old Marseilles is expected to reopen its doors soon. Not to be missed for lovers and collectors of playing cards.

Annie Viale



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