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The 1880 Edition of Nicolas Conver

The Nicolas Conver edition of the Tarot de Marseille at the moment of the Industrial Revolution

Tarot de Marseille: la machine à imprimer Camoin à 4 couleurs de la révolution industrielle
Tarot de Marseille: la machine à imprimer Camoin à 4 couleurs de la révolution industrielle

The 1880 Camoin edition of the Tarot de Marseille marks a turning point in the history of the tradition of the Tarot. It was the deck of Nicolas Conver (1760) with the colours altered. The arrival of industrial machines around 1880 no longer permitted printing with more than four colours, a limitation which forced the Camoin house to change the colours of the Conver deck to a special edition adapted for the new machines. We only find red, blue, yellow, black, and a scant amount of green in the 1880 Camoin edition, and practically all is reversed. This change would influence all the 20th century, when decks mechanically copied more or less the colours of my ancestor.

Unfortunately for the students of Tarot that believed that these colours had an initiatory value, they did not in fact have anything to do with the esoteric and alchemical Tradition of the Tarot de Marseille.

In 1930, Paul Marteau published a deck in which he copied the colours of this deck, adding it to a tarot de Besançon (see the The Grimaud Tarot signed Arnoult). He wrote a book which attempted to explain the initiatory value of the colours of my ancestor. By this monumental error of his, he led astray thousands of students of tarot in the 20th century, some of whom went on to write even more books explaining the Tarot de Marseille with these colours, or to teach them to students. This is the height of absurdity.

I repeat: These blue, yellow and red colours of my Camoin ancestor do not have any initiatory value.

Philippe Camoin

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