c.1790 Single L'Empereur Card by L. Carey Pre-Revolutionary Besançon Tarot

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c.1790 Pre-Revolutionary L. Carey L'Empereur Card, Strasbourg Besançon

Published by L. Carey [Carré], Strasbourg, France, c.1783-1793


Louis Carey (1736-1808) was a "Marchand-cartier" (merchant cardmaker) active in Strasbourg, France, who produced cards from 1776 until he died in 1808.

The blocks for the Carey Besançon deck were initially engraved by Francois Isnard (1695 -1765) and used by several cardmakers. Prior to Carey, J.B. Benoist produced them between c.1761 and 1783, succeeding his father, the Maître Cartier (master cardmaker) David Benoist. There's a copy of a Benoist Besançon held at the British Museum with the same versos/back pattern as this Carey (BM  1896,0501.545.1-76)

As Carey was producing cards during the French Revolution, the deck later had to be stripped of all monarchical symbols (see the revolutionary Carey at BnF dated c.1793-1799). This included changes to the L'Empereur card, which removed his crown, staff, and shield insignia, as well as changing the card title to "Le Grand Pere" (The Grand Father). This dates the card for sale here sometime after Benoist stopped producing in 1783 and the revolutionary changes made to the deck in 1793. 

Deck Identifiers:

  • Style: Strasbourg Besançon, pre-revolution
  • Title: French
  • Border: single black-line
  • Verso/Back: paper backs with printed pattern in delicate blue ink with a dotted double helix and repeated diamonds between. 

Card Measurements: 12.1 cm x 6.7 cm

CONDITION: The card is in very good condition, with only minor imperfections (see photographs and scan).