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Merrimack “Ancient Fortune Telling Cards,” John Lenthall Reprint (c.1717), James Moxon Original Designs? (“Astrology,” c.1676), c.1980s
These cards are shown by the World Web Playing Card Museum (WWPCM #03534) in its listing of "Astrology" cards from 1676 designed by James Moxon. Per the WWPCM listing, the Moxon cards were reprinted in or about 1717 by John Lenthall ("Lenthall Cards"), and the Merrimack cards listed here describe themselves as a reprint of the Lenthall Cards. The WWPCM listing also notes a Harry Margary set of these cards made in 2004. I have adopted the WWPCM information for this listing.
However, elsewhere on the internet at "Mary K. Greer's Tarot Blog," the history of the Lenthall Cards is described under a heading "The Lenthall Deck" as follows:
"A deck of 52 fortune-telling cards was originally designed by Dormann Newman and published by John Lenthall of The Talbot, Fleet Street, London, in 1665. . . . These appear to have also been published by James Moxon (either father or son), who were British engravers and map-makers as well as producing a whole variety of geographic and educational cards. These card appear identical with a deck they published as `Astrology Cards' in 1676.
"Each suit was numbered I to XIII. Odd numbered cards had a sign of the zodiac on them; even numbered cards contained a list of thirteen numbered statements. The Kings had a series of questions one could ask. The court cards were given the names of famous people from myth and legend. According to the directions, `When any person is desirous to try their fortune, let them go to one of the four kings and choose what question they please.' This is followed by an elaborate procedure for determining the answer. The explanation ends, `The stars foretell, they love you well.'"
The Greer blog description also mentions a Margary set of the Lenthall Cards from 1972.
Finally, the World of Playing Cards has this to say about the Lenthall Cards, mentioning the Margary set:
"Engraved pack designed for divination, in which every alternate numeral card has an astrological sphere, and the others are filled with fortune-telling answers. The court cards are whole length figures, the Kings and Queens being the same in all four suits, although with different inscriptions. Every card has a ruled off space at the top containing the name of an astrologer, sybil, etc., with a numeral and suitmark to indicate the value. On the Ace of Hearts is Hermes Trismagistus, on the King of Hearts Herod, on the Knave of Spades Wat Tyler and on the Knave of Clubs Hewson, the regicide."
Whatever the exact history, this Merrimack set is complete at 52 cards, and includes a card introducing the deck, and a paper insert with instructions on how to read the cards. The backs are white/blank. The cards are large and wide in comparison with modern playing cards, measuring 99mm x 64mm, and they come in the original box.
The cards, box and instructions are all in excellent condition, “as new” or very nearly so, except that there is a small tear on the top flap of the box.
The Margary set of these Lenthall Cards is also for sale in this shop (T00003862).
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