Tarot de Paris

The Tarot de Paris may be the oldest tarot deck that still has all 78 cards preserved, and appears to be the synthesis of several types of playing cards arriving in France from neighboring countries.

Ar de Baston Ar de Coupes Ar de Espee Ar de Deniers

A unique feature of the deck is that the four aces depict animals — gryphon, deer, unicorn and lion — carrying flags having the symbols for the suits — batons, cups, swords and coins. This may reflect the influence of German hunting decks which often have similar flags on the 10 card in each suit.

The cards has French titles, with many misspellings (e.g., “Ar” instead of “As”, “Le Pandut” instead of “Le Pendu”, “Trempance” instead of “Temperance”).

For historical information on the deck and its origin, and its similarities to, and unique differences from, the Marseille decks, see Andy’s Playing Cards — The Tarot and other Early Cards — The Tarot de Paris.

The deck is usually dated to the early 1600s, but it has been argued that it may date from 1559. The deck is in the keeping of the Bibliotheque National de France.