Piatnik Tarot de Marseille Review

Here’s my Amazon review of this amazingly charming Tarot deck.

By Kitka’s Mom on June 6, 2016

Although I have worked with this deck pretty extensively in the past, I did not have the chance to acquire it until a few days ago, when I happened to see it on Amazon. I couldn’t believe the low price the seller was asking. So I took the plunge and ordered. I am so glad I did!
First, I must say that the shipping was extraordinarily fast. I ordered this deck on Friday, and I have it now, Monday. The seller, WC Corp, did an exemplary job getting it to me in perfect condition. As to the deck:

This deck has very warm, lovely reds, deep, forest-y, mossy greens, a rich yellow, and both a deep and a pale shade of blue. Like other decks in this family, it appears to have been made via woodcut and stencil coloring. Damage to the woodcuts is evident throughout the Trumps, especially on Le Bateleur (whose upper left arm is half-missing, and whose eye is damaged), Le Chariot, and elsewhere, yet the deck manages to retain almost all of its charm. L’Amoreux, La Lune, and Le Soleil are among the loveliest I’ve seen in any Marseille-type deck.

The imagery seems to be an eclectic mix of TdM-I and TdM-II, e.g. Le Chariot’s canopy has TdM-I style scallops and La Lune is full faced; however, the putto in L’Amoreux is not blindfolded (this is a TdM-II characteristic). This deck also has some unique features: Le Pape is crosseyed; La Justice looks as though she’s spent a rough night out on the tiles, as it were, and Le Diable and his minions look more like drunken frat boys than imps. (Of course, maybe those two things are the same?) However, Trump VIIII, L’Eremite, is my absolute favorite Hermit in ANY tarot. Someone once described him as looking like a Yeti, and that’s totally apt. He could be wearing a hair shirt, or maybe just a well-worn robe in Jedi brown.
I don’t mean to give the impression that one could not read “seriously” with this deck. The faces are, for the most part, very readable and often surprisingly rich in the varied depiction of human emotion. L’Imperatrice has a rather wistful expression; the trio on L’Amoreux shows a complex interplay of emotions. La Papesse is so wise, benign, and yet a little remote, as she should be. Again, the “Yeti” Hermit would satisfy Diogenes in his search for a “real” man, a wise person. The occasional cockeyed or “drunk” expression is nothing more than we’d see on any given Tuesday at WalMart. In the many hours I’ve worked with this deck at my friend’s house, I’ve gotten some very profound readings from it. If you’re looking for a gorgeously polished deck, go for the Madenie or the Heron Conver. If, instead, you are open to a sometimes flawed, always unexpected, completely human experience, you can’t go wrong with the Piatnik. Like Auntie Mame, it’s just a bit quirky, over-the-top,and wholly marvelous and wonderful . One of my favorite TdM ever.

As to its provenance, the Two of Cups reveals that it was made in Brisgau by one Ignaz Krebs. I do not know the date. The cardstock is just perfect, not too shiny or slippery, nice and thick, but not too much so.  The cards have little to no border, and the corners are barely rounded; I like this.   The LWB has an interesting approach to the trumps, and the divinatory meanings given for the minors are completely different from the RWS meanings so prevalent (might one say endemic?) in the US. Yes, to be sure, they are “fortune-tell-y,” apparently having come from some cartomantic tradition rather than Marteau’s suit-plus-number basis. The cards’ backgrounds are a pretty ecru/off-white. They shuffle beautifully and they should last for a lifetime of use. Overall, this deck looks much more costly than it is, a special, wonderful treasure to be handed down to a new generation, rather than a mere commercial product to be mass marketed. Recommended!


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