When choosing any Tarot, many people have two or three favorite cards that make or break their choice of a deck. To see how style, coloration and size vary in historic Non-Scenic Pip (NSP) European decks, let’s compare the Marseilles Moons. Maybe this card is one of your favorites.
Front-facing Moons of Type I block-printed Marseilles Tarots
#1. Jean Noblet 1650/59–Oldest extant Marseilles-style deck. REPRODUCTION by J. Peterson 2.5 x 4″ (small cards)
Note: It is, unlikely that the original paper would have been so white—the image must have been brightened in reproduction. Its original paper color would probably have been like the Flornoy recreation directly below (#2)
#2. Jean Noblet 1650/59–Accurate RECREATION by J.C. Flornoy 2.5 x 4″ (small cards). Line recreation and color placement is accurate to the extant card above. Jean-Claude Flornoy was the first person (I know of) to create and publish accurate recreations of extant Tarots.
#3. Jean Noblet 1650/59–RECREATION of RECREATION of J.C. Flornoy cards (with permission) in a larger size. Color choice, position and style were altered by Penny McCracken, to create a grunge style deck. 2.75 x 4.75″ (medium size)
#4. Jean Dodal 1701–REPRODUCTION by L. Forstell (Line work is a reproduction of the extant card, but she has muted the colors, for an antique effect) 2.75 x 4.75″ (medium size).
Note: It seems that the Dodal is the only Type I, front-facing moon card that included the color blue (lt. blue) in the rays of the corona. Perhaps the colorist did not realize that the spikey rays of the corona were not of the moon, whose light is thought of as cool, but the warm rays of the sun. (See the discussion below.)
#5. Jean Dodal 1701–RECREATION by Pablo Robledo 2.75 x 5″ (A bit smaller than #4) Accurate color placement–note that several uncolored areas match the extant reproduction above.
#6. Jean Dodal 1701–RECREATION by Jean-Claude Flornoy (uncolored areas have been filled in, likely because this card, in one of the two existing decks, was stenciled this way.) 2.875 x 5.125″ (Large cards)
#7. Jean-Pierre Payen 1713–REPRODUCTION by Yves Reynaud 2.5 x 4.75″
#8. Tarot de Centuries –REPRODUCTION of the images a very old print page of cards of an incomplete deck of unknown origin. The deck is then completed with cards from the Payen deck. The moon card is from the Payen deck 2.5 x 4.75″
#9. Francois Heri 1730– REPRODUCTION–Full-face Swiss Besançon–Repro. by Y. Reynaud 2.25 x 3.625″ (small cards).
#10. Spanish Tarot 1736–RECREATION. Spicy Spanish colors give this deck a playful vibe. H. Fournier 2.375 x 4.375″ (medium cards).
Some have realized that what is shown in these early Moon cards may not be just the Moon, but a SOLAR ECLIPSE. The ring of yellow and red rays is the corona or “ring-of-fire” that is seen around the edge when the moon is aligned in front of the sun, hiding the sun. Before it was understood, this phenomenon was frightening.
A REMINDER: NEVER look directly at the sun or at an eclipse of the sun—not even briefly! It can cause irreversible damage to your eyes—even blindness. Use special glasses or arrange a projection of the image onto paper.
Left-facing profile Moons of Type II
This style soon became more common.
#11. Pierre Madenie 1709–REPRODUCTION by Yves. Reynaud 2.5 x 4.75″
#12. (Card to be added.)
#13. Tarot de Marsella 1709–RECREATED with aged effect by Pablo, Robledo 2.375 x 4.375″
#14. Jean-Pierre Laurent 1735–REPRODUCTION by Y. Reynaud 2.5 x 4.5″
#15. Claude Rochias 1754–REPRODUCTION by Yves Raynaud. 2.625 x 5.125
#16. (Card to be added.)
#17. Jodorowsky & Camoin 1997–REIMAGINED CREATION of a generic TdM from the study of many decks.
The past 5 moon cards all have red crescents.
Although light blue rays had been added to the corona in the 1701 Dodal, they seem to have completely replaced the yellow rays in the 1760 Conver probably because the idea of a solar eclipse had been forgotten, and most people think of the moon as emitting a cool light.
These have green crescents.
#18. N. Conver 1760 Antichi Tarocchi Marsigliesi– REPRODUCTION by Lo Scarabeo 2.375 x 5.4 (medium size).This is one of the first two vintage TdM reproduction decks known to me.
#19. N. Conver 1760–Isis TdM– Halftoned RECREATION k by Tadahiro Onumi 2.625 x 5″ (larger).
Others show yellow crescents.
#20. N. Conver 1760–Reproduction by Heron•Bochat 2.375 x 4.375 (This is the second of the first two vintage TdM reproductions mentioned above. Both are reproductions of different editions of the iconic Conver TdM.
#21. N. Conver 1760–Recreation by Carlo Bozzelli 2.25 x 4.125″ (Small cards)
#22. N. Conver 1760–Modern CBD Tarot Recreation by Yoav Ben-Dov 2.875 x 4.75
Major Color Change in the CONVER Marseilles Tarot
The Conver Marseilles Tarot underwent a serious change as a result of the industrial revolution. Two colors (the light blue and green) were removed from the palette to facilitate 4-color mass production. (Sometimes there are small touches of green). Only the dark blue, not seen in the moons above but now prominent in the limited palette cards below, remained. This change made it necessary to rearrange colors throughout the deck. The limited palette continued to be copied into this, the 21st century, even though modern printing processes have long been able to handle the full range of colors originally used. When searching for a full-palette Conver, look at The Fool (Le Mat). If his tunic is solid red lacking green stripes and his pointy collar, sleeves and pants are all blue, you have the limited palette. I hope you will want the full palette, at least for one of your decks. Read about the meaning of color in The Tarot: A Strange and Wondrous Thing.
LIMITED PALETTE The limited palette is: Yellow, Carnation, Red, and Deep Blue. Sometimes there were touches of green probably made by putting yellow over blue. This limited palette is characteristic of Conver Tarots sold today (examples below) because people have become accustomed to it. Other countries seem not to have embraced the 4-color production system for their Tarots.
#23. N. Conver 1760 with the limited 4-color palette is a reproduction by Thunder Bay Press of Canada 2.5″ x 4.75″
#24. N. Conver 1760 Conver 1760-Painterly (no line hatching) altered color version by Heraclio Fournier. 2.375″ x 4.875″
Swiss Style Type II left-facing Moons
The Moon cards of Swiss decks do not vary significantly from the Marseilles-style Moons, but Swiss Tarots in general, do differ a bit from the Marseilles style. Those that came after the 1751 Claude Burdel Tarot, have a more decorative folk style of art based on that Burdel deck. There is greater decorative detail in clothing, and in the foliage that surrounds pip emblems. Also of note, is the absence of droplets or yods in the Ace of Rods and the Ace of Swords. The foliage fills the background—this alone tells you that a deck is Swiss. There is however, an exception, and that is the wonderfully eccentric Carolus Zoya deck held for decades in the collection of the late K. Frank Jensen. The Zoya deck (not Swiss) does not have yods in the Aces of Rods and Swords, but neither does it have extensive foliage—the background is empty. This deck has not yet been reproduced for public sale, but it is featured in the book written by Camelia Elias, The Marseille Tarot: Towards the Art of Reading. It is a uniquely charming version of the Tarot.
#25. Claude Burdel 1751 REPRODUCTION by Yves Reynaud 2.5 x 4.5″ (medium size).
#26. Tarocco de Marsiglia 1804 . REPRODUCTION by Il Meneghello ” (medium size).
#27. Claude Burdel 1751 MODERN REIMAGINED RECREATION published by Lo Scarabeo. Color arrangement within motifs differs from the original and the backgrounds of all cards are digitally textured and colored 2.5 x 4.5″ (medium size).
#28. Francois Gassmann 1840 REPRODUCTION by Yves Reynaud 2.562 x 4.687″(medium).
#29. Tarot Classic–by U.S. Games, an early REIMAGINED RECREATION with non-traditional use of color. 2.375 x 375 (smaller medium).
A differently colored version of this deck was issued in Europe.
#30. Ancient Liguria Piedmont 1860 REPRODUCTION by Lo Scarabeo 2.5 x 4.375″ (medium size).
#31. Tarocco Ligure Piemontese 1874–REPRODUCTION bh Solleone 2.5 x 4.375″ (medium size).
The Melancholy Moons
Among my favorites, these seem to be the beautiful moons of childhood memories, past or present romance, and days longed for. No rays of light and no droplets appear in the graphics of these cards, just a gentle face in a yellow crescent framed by soft clouds. But the pink moon likely shows a LUNAR ECLIPSE when Earth blocks the sun, casting its shadow on the moon. When this happens, the longer wavelengths of light (red) do reach the moon around the earth making it look pink or even red. This, too, frightened people. Lunar eclipses only occur when the moon is full.
#32. Ignaz Krebs TdM (Tarot Rhenan) 1700s REPRODUCED by Piatnik • Vienne and recently re-released also by Piatnik as simply, Tarot de Marseille 2.625 x 4.75″ (medium).
#33. Ancient Tarot of Bologna by Giacomo Zoni 1780–REPRODUCED by Lo Scarabeo 2.375 x 4.5″ (smaller medium).
#34.Jacob Joerger 1801 (Besançon type)– REPRODUCTION by Yves Reynaud 2.687 x 5″ (large medium).
#35. Tarocco di Besançon 1818–REPRODUCTION by Meneghello 2.562 x 4.75″ (slightly smaller).
The Triadic Tarot of 2017
This Tarot is a new presentation in the Marseilles Tradition, A square Tarot with graphics in the block-print style of early Tarots. This Moon is not meant to represent the sun eclipsed by the moon (there are no red or yellow rays), nor is it the moon eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow. It is simply the moon emitting its cool light in an indigo sky. Its green crescent is a reference to example #18 above, one of the earliest modern reproductions of a vintage Tarot de Marseille. This is the waxing (growing) crescent understood to represent the growth and development phase of the flora and fauna of our planet.
#36. The Triadic Tarot of 2017 is A NEW PRESENTATION in the Marseilles Tradition—A SQUARE TAROT. This deck provides all the concepts of the 78-card traditional Tarot on just 38 square cards and there are 4 optional cards.
Choosing Your First Tarot de Marseille
Whether The Moon is or is not one of your “make or break” cards when choosing a historic Non-Scenic Pip Tarot deck, this large selection of just the moon cards, should give you an idea of how differently the same theme can appear in a variety of decks. Everyone sees color a little differently, and your taste for style too, is subjective. Choose a deck that speaks to you! Your first TdM will always be a favorite.
A unique benefit of the Triadic Tarot is that it teaches an easy way to read non-scenic pip cards—one that works for ANY non-scenic pip deck.