Few early decks have survived to this day. Many dozens must have existed in Marseilles before 1672. If one refers to books from the era, decks of cards are mentioned in 1337 in the statutes of the Abbey of St. Victor in Marseilles. The Master Cardmakers in Marseilles existed well before their authorisation by the king in 1631. The very ancient Tarots de Marseille have disappeared like other games of cards because of the unfortunate custom of recycling used cards into business or calling cards.
The fact that we cannot find Marseilles Tarots made in Marseilles before 1672 does not absolutely prove that the Tarot appeared in Italy where a deck of Tarot dating to 1471 has been found. The two schools have strictly nothing to do with each other, and the Italian school only carries an extremely simplified message. Whereas the Marseilles school incorporates nearly all the occult knowledge of the West and sometimes even of the East. Nor does this prove that there did not exist in Italy much more complex Tarots than those which have survived to this day. The only observation we can plausibly make is that the two schools are very distinct as for their contents. There ought to therefore have existed a Tradition well prior to the two schools upon which they were inspired.
My point of view is that this prior school already existed in the south of France and throughout the Marseillan region, which was the doorway to the Orient. Marseilles was founded 2600 years ago and received contributions from all the cultures of the Mediterranean by virtue of its privileged geographic location.Philippe CAMOIN
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