c.1790 to c.1820 Costumes des Peuples Etrangers

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c.1790 to c.1820 “Costumes des Peuples Étrangers” or “Jeu divinatoire géographique," 26/32 cards


Published by an unknown maker

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Deck:Costumes des Peuples Étrangers” or “Jeu divinatoire géographique.”


Description:  Very rare pique/divinatory deck depicting the "clothing" or "costumes" of different geographic regions. The deck is titled "Costumes des Peuples Étrangers," translated loosely as the Clothing of Foreign Peoples. The deck clearly draws on racialized representations of peoples and clothing from around the world. Each card includes divinatory readings on all four sides, along with numbers. A similar deck held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has the following text "Composées de tous les Costumes des peuples / étrangers avec de jolies devises et bons mots. / dediées aux Jeunes Gens’; ‘Je me fixe a la plus belle / Imitez moi." According to this text, the cards were dedicated to young people and were likely used for a number of games and other educational purposes. The images are inspired by the work of Montréal-born diplomat, artist, and writer, Jacques Grasset de St-Sauveur (1757-1810), specifically his, "Tableaux des principaux peuples de l’Europe, de l’Asie, de l’Afrique, de l’Amérique."


While Grasset's depictions are eurocentric and colonial/imperial in nature, Indigenous nations of Turtle Island are represented in these cards and Grasset's work in ways that were uncommon for this time period in Europe (See Elsasser 1976, Andrès 2003, 2007, 2009). It is clear he drew from traditions of the "Noble Savage" and other Rousseauian ideas of indigeneity and otherness. 


Cards Present:
Hearts: A, 7, 8, 9, J, Q, K
Diamonds: A, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, K
Clubs: A, 8, 9, 10, J, K
Spades: A, 7, 8, 9, 10, J
Missing Cards: 10 of Hearts, Queen of Diamonds, Seven and Queen of Clubs, Queen and King of Spades.


Deck Identifiers:

· Borders: think black line

· Reverses: Blue star pattern

· Paper: delicate pasteboard

· Titles: French

· Style: Piquet/Divinatory deck.

· Print method: Hand-coloured etchings.


Very good condition, incomplete deck with vibrant and delicate handpainted cards. Some signs of age and edge-wear, with paper creasing, some discolouration, and a few slight stains. See photographs for further condition details. 

Card Dimensions:  7.9 cm X 5.3 cm