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Le tarot noir (French) Product Bundle
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Also, I did want to mention that I did have to wait quite some time to get them, as I think they were shipped from overseas. This is something you might miss when purchasing from a 3rd party seller (as opposed to Amazon fulfilling it). When you select the seller as you put the item in your cart, they do give a timeframe for shipment, but it’s easy to overlook especially if you’re a Prime member and always get your shipments within a few days. But this deck is definitely worth the wait so if you’re in the U.S. don’t let the shipment time cloud your judgement of the deck itself!
The packaging is up to par, with a satin laminate finish cardboard presentation box. Opening the lidded top, the inside fits very snuggly a paperback LWB (or maybe LBB? Little BLACK Book?) and the deck split into two stacks. This certainly looks and feels like a good quality set.
The book is in French, naturellemente, with faithful printings of each card image on glossy paper. If you are a Marseille reader, then you don't really need a LWB as studying the images and the pips combined with your own method is plenty to read these cards, but it is worth parsing the French if you want to spend some time translating to get the author's take on some of the meanings and the history and purpose behind the imagery. The book is especially handy to review the illustrations in full size and color without getting out the deck. Some out there have noted the binding on this book was overlooked and results in a cracked spine or pages falling loose. Mine has not done this so far, but I'm usually very careful about handling paperbacks, so be warned.
The deck itself? Sumptuous and moody--but never becoming grim or negative. The illustrator's universe translates coherently through each card. Ripples, sinews, variegations, folds; mournful, restless eyes and cavorting creatures; antiqued jewel tones, browns, and sepia tones, swathed in an expansive cream background. Deck structure notes: The Fool is not numbered; XIII is not titled--he faces left; Justice is VIII; Strength is XI; 4's and 9's are written shorthand (IV and IX, not IIII or VIIII); the Valet de Deniers is titled at bottom like all other court cards instead of vertically along the side; the back motif is not reversible; suits are French: Coupe, Deniers, Baton, Epee; cartier mark on the 2 of deniers; no additional presentation or title cards. A personal fave of mine is The Hermit . . . how the shading in the rays of light actually makes the card appear illuminated by his lamp.
The gilded edges are lavish, especially on this thicker card stock. The back motif is the only thing I'm not in love with, but it doesn't bother me. It does remind me of old ebonized cabinetry with gold incising, so it fits the mood for sure. You'll have to decide how you feel about the generous lamination of the card stock. I think it fits the "ebonized" finish on the backs, but it might be a bit much on the faces, which do seem a little less glossy than the back. The card stock doesn't glide very easily and tends to get stuck in clumps, which makes shuffling laborious.
The only serious drawback to this deck, which actually enhances the visual quality but impairs usability, is the size and proportion of the cards. I personally like that this deck is a big slab and demands to be handled with purpose and respect, but average or small hands will have a tough time lace/overhand shuffling these, and pretty much nobody will want to riffle shuffle them. The card stock is moderately thick and very rigid; along with the gilded edges, these cards are more like beautiful art plates, but of course that makes them difficult to handle. I have noticed the back lamination is prone to chipping, so be careful how aggressive you are with these cards. Because of the size and proportion of the cards, three card spreads are ideal--anything more makes things a bit "ceremonial", and more than five or six cards is too big for most spread cloths.
Because of the practical issues, this is more of an art deck for meditating on the images, but it would make a perfect "special occasion" deck and I get very inspired readings from it.
Two things of note - The packaging and the accompanying book are in French, so if you're not a French speaker, this would be a challenging first deck.
Secondly, the cards are *huge*, noticably larger than a standard tarot deck, substantially larger than a traditional Tarot de Marseille deck, and more in line size wise with what you would expect from oracle cards. The card stock is also very high quality and thick which can make the deck overall feel very unwieldy at first and people with smaller hands may have a difficult time working with the deck. However, for the most part, it's just a question of practicing handling and working with the larger cards.