Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards – Card Reading Treasure From My Aunt
How genuine gypsy fortune telling cards look like and how to read them? Story about how I got a rare gypsy cards deck from my aunt. Photos of gypsy fortune telling cards. Original hundred years old gypsy deck!
Gypsy cards from a drawer – I. deck
As a little boy I remember the gypsy fortune telling cards stored in a drawer among other treasures such as grandfather's Swiss Omega watches or gold jewelry from other relatives. But I paid no attention to them at that time. I did not know that they are actually genuine gypsy cards. Only when I started to deal with dream interpretations and tarot readings few years ago, I suddenly realized what a treasure we have at home. However, I found out that the gypsy card deck is unfortunately not complete.
The gypsy fortune telling deck typically includes 32 cards. The card deck in our drawer was a gift from my great-grandaunt Zdenka to my grandmother. But it consist only from 23 original cards. Except these 23 cards the deck contains 4 other handcrafted and illustrated cards that should probably replace missing pieces. But even 23 + 4 is not 32. Despite this imperfection my grandmother said that she experienced a lot of fun with this gypsy fortune telling cards, especially when she took them from time to time to work or to a party and someone bold with vivid imagination made the reading for others.
Gypsy cards from my aunt – II. deck
I recently made a trip to Prague to visit my aunt. To my great surprise she gave me a deck of cards. My aunt knew about my hobby in card reading and therefore she wanted to please me. I immediately recognized that it was a genuine old gypsy fortune telling cards deck, beautifully preserved and above all – complete. The images on these cards were identical to those ones I was familiar with from my grandmother's drawer.
I gave my aunt a kiss on the cheek and thanked. I told her, that every time I will take these cards in my hands, I will think about her. "It will be always a rare souvenir for me." I said. Very important for me is the fact that this gypsy cards came from the same great-grandaunt Zdenka like those I have from my grandmother. I thought: “How many gypsy card decks could my great-grandaunt have?” But there are certain secrets that make our past so charmingly mysterious, so I gave up further investigation and enjoyed properly the original gift.
Original gypsy fortune telling cards
This gypsy deck can be roughly a hundred years old. My great-grandaunt Zdenka was born in 1899 in Czech republic. On the Stability card is written: „Ferd. Piatnika synové, Ritter a spol. / Praha XII.“ When you look on history of the Piatnik company (acquisition of the company Ritter & Cie in Prague in 1898 by Piatnik) it is clear that these gypsy fortune telling cards originate in the period after 1898, because they bear Ritter et al. inscription.
According to the registration number 190414, which is indicated for the successor deck called Biedermeier fortune telling cards, it can be assumed that these cards were created in 1904. If you like them, I definitely recommend to buy a new set. However, it is necessary to count with the fact that this is not on the same card deck. A closer look will tell you that the current Biedermeier cards have the same theme, but the details are different. Therefore is obvious that the pictures were painted all over again. Furthermore, the inscriptions at the bottom are arranged differently. It will not change anything on the aesthetic quality, on the contrary, the new gypsy fortune telling cards are more detailed and clearer. But they lack the charm of the originals. Mona Lisa as a re-painted copy, even in the most wonderful technique and skill, will always stay a copy.
Original gypsy fortune telling card / New Biedermeier fortune telling card
New card deck
Photos of my gypsy cards
The first part shows the incomplete gypsy fortune telling cards from my grandmother. Separately is the photo with four very different cards that someone diligent added to the deck later. All cards are beautifully made (Piatnik logo on the back side). There is also one special red card worth noticing. It can be easily identified. This gypsy card is not exceptional (such as the black card in the Aleister Crowley's Tarot), but according to memories of my grandmother someone poured it with red wine. It could be interesting to know, weather the other missing cards met a similar or worse incident and therefore is the deck today incomplete.
The second part shows the complete and beautifully preserved deck of genuine gypsy cards from my aunt. Red and black pattern on the back is more magical compared to the first deck (very similar to the classic playing cards). The actual illustrations on the cards are completely equal. They have only minor color differences, which stem from the imperfections of the printing process and then probably also from another year of publication.
Interesting are also the five-language titles. My gypsy fortune telling cards have a major inscription in Czech language and the surrounding four inscriptions are Hungarian, German, Croatian and Italian. I suppose that gypsies, from which these cards originally came, traveled across European countries, where they carried out they card readings. It was convenient then to have a multilingual titles to be better understood by all, regardless of actual European destination.