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Loss of the original initiatory message over the centuries

by Philippe Camoin

There were historically at least two advances responsible for the loss of the original initiatory message contained in the Tarot de Marseille.

In 1631: The official authorisation from the King to manufacture playing cards in Marseilles

In 1860: The arrival of the industrial revolution and the four colour printing machines

IN 1631 Paradoxically, in the 17th and the 18th centuries, it was sloppiness regarding the manufacture of the cards in Marseilles which led to the decline of the tradition of Tarot. This lack of awareness is without doubt the consequence of the official authorisation by the King in 1631, which made it legal for Marseillans to manufacture playing cards. Before, when the Marseillans printed cards in spite of their being forbidden by the king, the cards were more carefully made; at that time there was a secret brotherhood which guarded the initiatory tradition, which the ban on manufacturing cards in Marseilles favored keeping secret. In 1760, Nicolas Conver restored an important part of the Tradition of Tarot by restoring the geometry of the Roman master-builders in a very precise manner, according to numerous secret codes. All the same, he also left out a major part.

AROUND 1860-1880 Until 1860, Decks of cards were painted by stencil, and this made it possible to use a greater number of colours. Around 1860, the four colour machines (which, as their name indicates, could only print in four colours) replaced brushwork and the only colours that remained were blue, red and yellow with very rare traces of green, most of the other colours having been changed along the way.

After the disappearance of the of symbols due to the lack of awareness over some generations, it was the original colours that disappeared with the appearance of the machines.

Philippe Camoin

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