c.1761 Strasbourg Animal Tarot Animalier Tiertarock

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Tarot Animalier J.B. Benoist, Strasbourg 67/78 


Published by J.B. Benoist, Strasbourg, c.1761

Graveur/Engraver: François Isnard (F.I.)

Deck: Bavarian Animal Tarot/Tiertarock (IPCS Pattern Sheet 8)

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Bavarian Animal Tarot (Tarot Animalier/Tiertarock), printed by Jean Baptiste (J.B.) Benois(t), c.1761-1783. Benoist was a cardmaker in Strasbourg, France (Bas-Rhin, Alsace region). The son of master cardmaker David Benoist, J.B. succeeded his father in 1761 and died in 1783.


Benoist's Animal Tarot closely follows the designs of one published by François Bouchaud. Though they are not identical, both decks were engraved by, or at least bear the mark of, François Isnard on the Jack of Clubs. The BnF has a copy of Bouchaud's Tarot Animalier (c.1755-1765), but no other record was found of Benoist's deck (See BnF Bouchaud: ark:/12148/btv1b10336949k).


The Bavarian-style animal tarot first emerged in the mid-18th century "(w)hen, probably for economic reasons, many European cardmakers discontinued (the) manufacture of Tarot packs with Italian suitmarks" (IPCS Pattern Sheet 8). According to the International Playing Card Society (IPCS), the composition of this deck style includes "78 cards. 4 suits of 4 single-figure or double-ended court cards and 10 pip cards, plus 21 single-figure or double-ended trumps, with (R)oman numerals in a panel top and bottom, and the Fool. Distinguishing cards: king of Spades with harp, queen of Spades in profile, jacks of Hearts and Clubs holding shields" (IPSC, Pattern Sheet 8).

Measurements: 11.2 cm x 5.8 cm


Deck Identifiers:

· Style: Bavarian Animal Tarot/Tarot Animalier/Tiertarock

· Format: 1 game of 67/78 cards: stencil painted. 

· Titles: no titles, no indices, Roman numerals on 21 trump cards in a panel top and bottom

· Cards: One way-vignettes, one-way pips, no indices

· Courts: King of Spades with harp, Queen of Spades in profile, Jacks of Hearts and Clubs holding Bavarian lozenged shields

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

· Borders: trumps and courts with black line border

·Corners: Square 

· Indicators: Valet/Jack of Clubs with "J.B. Benoist" and initials "F.I." on the blade of the Halberd, "Strasbourg" on the King of Diamonds.

· Versos/Backs: printed in blue on a white background with an intricate pattern of diamonds and chains (see BM 1896,0501.545.1-76, for a similar pattern on Benoist Besançon).

CONDITION: The deck is incomplete with 67 of 78 cards, missing eleven cards, including four trumps: II, IV, XIII, XV, the five and nine of clubs, as well as the ace, three, seven, knight and queen of diamonds. All of the cards are in very good condition with ghosting throughout, only slight signs of use, and some cards with minor discolouration, smudges, foxing, and patina, as well as several cards with a small hole/evidence of potential worming, see Fool, XXI, Queen of Clubs (see photographs).