c.1800 T. Servaes Belgian Animal Tarot 51/78

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c.1800 T. Servaes Tarot Anamalier Belge 51/78


Published by T. Servaes, Bruges, c.1800

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Deck: Belgian Animal Tarot/ Tarot Animalier Belge (IPCS Pattern Sheet 9)


Description:  Belgian Animal Tarot (Tarot Animalier), printed by T. Servaes, Bruges, 1800.  

T. Servaes was a Belgian cardmaker active in the last quarter of the 18th century. The marker of "France" on the cards indicates the deck was made after 1794 when France annexed the South Netherlands. The Servaes factory was closed by 1803.


The Belgian-style animal tarot was likely developed from the Bavarian animal style. According to the International Playing Card Society (IPCS), the composition of this deck style includes "78 cards... (with) 4 suits of 4 single-figure court cards and 10 pip cards, plus 21 single-figure trumps, with roman numerals in a panel, top and bottom, centred, and the Fool. Particularly distinctive court cards are the kings, all of whom have legs bare from the knee down except for thonged sandals." (IPSC, Pattern Sheet 9).


The IPCS Pattern sheet indicates that "it seems never to have been known in a shortened, 54-card, form." This tarot deck was, thus, likely shortened to 52 cards in order to play a game such as whist, and along with the 22 trumps and four Jacks, the 7 of Diamonds is now missing as well (51/78). 


Deck Identifiers:

· Style: Belgian Animal Tarot

· Borders: courts with black line border

· Reverses: intricate orange hexagon design with a sun at the centre of each hexagon.

· Paper: cardstock 

· Titles: no titles, no indices

· Indicators: Courts with "T. Servaes, France"; Kings all showing knee. 

· Cards: One way-vignettes, one-way pips

· Suits: French, hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds




The deck is incomplete with 51/78 cards, missing 22 animal trumps, the 4 jacks, and the 7 of Diamonds. Overall, the cards are in very good condition with some signs of use, stains, browning and patina (see photographs).