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ATS Newsletters

by author

Tarotpedia

The Boiardo 15th c Poem
Tarot history in brief

quotations from various people

Functions of Readings
What is Tarot?


Anonymous

Med. on XVIIII

Emily E. Auger

Tarot and Other Meditation Decks

L. Atkinson

Orphalese Software review

S. Arwen

Memory & Instinct

Kathy Berkowitz

Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 1)
Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 2)
Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 3)
Waite's Mystical Tradition (Pt 4)

Nina L. Braden

Tarot in Literature

David Brice

Birth of Tarot

Colin Browne

Square & Compasses Tarot

Lee A. Bursten

Journeys in Tarot Creation
Vachetta review

E.C.

Review: The Lo Scarabeo Story

Ross G. Caldwell

Tarot History

Bonnie Cehovet

Tarology - Poetics of Tarot
Review: Secret of Tarot
The Mystereum Tarot

N. Chishty-Mujahid

Concerning Ghisi’s Laberinto

Craig Conley

A House of Tarot Cards

A.B. Crowther

Rachel Pollack interview

Jean-Michel David

On Paneurythmy and Tarot
Tarot's expression of the numinous
Yarker, Tarot & Arcane Schools
Waite-Smith Sun card
The Fool as Wandering Jew
Tarot as Christian Art
Education through Tarot
Tarot: the vatical & the sacral
Fortuna, Ass & Monkey
Steiner and Tarot
1701 Dodal restored!
Enc. Tarot vol I-IV: review
Christ, World & Sin
Caveat Emptor:
       Visual Tarot

Tarot & AlefBeit
Review: Jean Payen Tarot
Tarot and Freemasonry
I-Ching and Pip Cards
Whither directing your course?
Tarot & the Tree of Life
Ovid, Egypt and Tarot
When the Devil isn't the Devil
Four elements and the suits
Court Cards & MBTI
Certification & Codes
Jean Dodal Marseille
Conference FAQs
Golden Dawn
Kabalah & Tarot
Golden Tarot review
Annual spread
Iraqi Museum
Two Brief TdM reviews
Meditations on the Tarot

Enrique Enriquez

The Joy of Wordplay
J-C. Flornoy interview
Embodied Tarot
Indirect Suggestions
Whispering to the Eye

Mark Filipas

History of Egyptian Decks
Lexicon Theory

Jean-Claude Flornoy

in memorium
from Oral Tradition

Roxanne Flornoy

Children and Tarot
from Oral Tradition

Mary Greer

Killing the Thoth Deck
On the Tarot of the Four Worlds
Egypt, Tarot and Mystery School Initiations

William Haigwood

The Sixties: Counterculture Tarot

Alissa Hall

Parlour Tricks

Kris Hadar

The Tarot

Claas Hoffmann

Crowley-Harris 'Thoth' deck

Michael J. Hurst

Tarot Symbolism review

K. Frank Jensen

Century with the Waite-Smith

Shane Kendal

A Poetry of Tarot

Ken J. Killeen

The Metaphysical Bible

Barbara Klaser

Language of Tarot

E. Koretaka

Cardinal Virtues

Dovid Krafchow

Kabbalistic Tarot

Lisa Larson

Perceptions of Spirituality

Suzan E. Lemont

Therapeutic Tarot Work

Eric K. Lerner

Diloggun and Tarot

N. Levine

Tarot of Prague review

C. Liknaitzky

Journey in Ceramics

Joep van Loon

Tarot Wheel

Karen Mahony

Prague

S.J. Mangan

Fool, Alef & Orion

Robert Mealing

Petrarch’s Triumphs
Jean Noblet Tarot
Hunting the "true" Marseille Tarot
Cary Sheet

Fern Mercier

Playing the Fool

C. de Mellet

Inquiries into Tarot

Sophie Nusslé

Fantastic Menagerie

Robert V. O'Neill

Tarot Symbolism
Tower Iconology

Michael Owen

Xultun Tarot

Dan Pelletier

Magic Manga Tarot
the Blank Spot

Robert M. Place

The Fool's Journey

Debra Rosenthal

Looking at the Jacques Vieville

Mjr Tom Schick

Tarot Lovers Calendar

Inna Semetsky

Counseling Reading for Spouses
Learning the language of images
Re-Symbolization of Self
Tarot (dis)contents

Diana Sobolewska

'Bateleur's tale'

Russell Sturgess

Jesus's New Testament

N. Swift

Sufism & Tarot

Arthur E. Waite

Symbols of Tarot

1701 Dodal restored!


Jean-Michel David
www.fourhares.com

I like to imagine what it will be like in 300 years hence: perhaps one of Flornoy’s decks survives, having been found in one of Melbourne’s museums, and perhaps a mastercraftsman has picked it up, obtained high resolution images thereof, and seeks to remake it afresh for all to enjoy. Some of the colours have faded, some of the cardstock is damaged. Perhaps there is even a card ripped with part of its image then missing.

hand-held Dodal tarot

For myself, holding Flornoy’s restoration of the Dodal deck is somewhat akin to the joy that a future cardmaker may have brought to a fellow enthusiast and traveller of the times.

Already having the photographic (and size-reduced) reproduction of the Dodal (now long out of print) published by Dussere, and having, a number of years ago, held one of the two known remaining Dodal decks when visiting the British Museum, it especially strikes me that this restoration is superb. Of course I’m also going to be critical, and Jean-Claude and Roxanne Flornoy undoubtedly expect this. So let me spill my critique in what I trust will be taken in the best way possible.

Card stock

When I first held the original c. 1701 British Museum [BM]-held deck, what especially struck me what the relative thinness of the deck. Unlike, for example, the 1963 imprint of the Grimaud deck, this 300 year old deck was, truly, ‘fine’ – which in the French has more of the literal ‘thin’ as its meaning. What Flornoy has managed is to get a cardboard quality that approximates, as much as is feasible, the thickness of the original. So a very pleasant surprise here! It’s not only the overall card size which has been more or less matched, but also its ‘grade’.

Dodal tarot thickness
From left to right: Grimaud Marseille 1963; Flornoy 78-card deck; Dusserre photographic reproduction of BN copy

In the image above, the left-hand deck is the Grimaud from the 1960s, the central deck is Flornoy’s Dodal, and the right-hand deck, slightly thinner, is the photographic reproduction by Dusserre of the Dodal held in the Bibliotheque Nationale [BN].

Card size

This is especially pleasant, and undoubtedly has meant that the printers have had to use a greater number of card sheets than is usual. Flornoy’s meticulous and uncompromising focus here is examplary. If anything, the border ‘added’ surrounding the card images means that each card (not its image) is a little larger than the known decks. If a woodblock had been used, of course, then this would not have arisen as the ‘space’ between cards would not have allowed for such extravagance. What’s interesting (for myself at any rate) is that this printed version has images a little larger than the hand-made trump-only edition.

Dodal Empress from three Dodal tarot imprints
Dodal decks from left to right: Flornoy 78-card deck; Flornoy 22 trump-only hand-made deck; Dusserre photographic reproduction of BN copy

Colours

Not sure what to say here. Of course, one of the features of Flornoy’s decks is that they are crisp and seek to reflect the colours as the original designers may have intended them to be. I frankly do not have sufficient access to the details of both the BM and BN decks to be able to properly ascertain how closely these colours have been matched but, knowing Flornoy, I am confident that he would have, to the best of anyone’s ability, carefully considered both these decks and tried to bring out the colours as they would have been used at the time. Colours… not tone, however: personally, I suspect that the red used by Flornoy’s printers was rather more pinkish than expected… but then again, variations occured quite a lot with the imprints of the 18th century!

Card backs

Perhaps many will very much appreciate the pate-d’oix reversals that Flornoy has introduced, but, sadly, not I. Whereas he was careful to preserve the non-reversibility of the original decks in the hand-made version of the Dodal (previously released in a trumps-only edition), it’s as if he has succumbed to what is misguided commercial marketability and the preferences for those who are also readers amongst us: yet surely someone who values this deck would have been happy with the upright design!

Dodal tarot backs
Dodal decks from left to right: Flornoy 78-card deck; Flornoy 22 trump-only hand-made deck; Dusserre photographic reproduction of BN copy

Perhaps it’s only a small point which remains, for me, something that is somewhat of a disappointment.

Line details

The style of deck, being originally a woodcut, implies that the image is primarily based on outlines which are then overlayed with colour stencils. This gives the black lines themselves somewhat more importance than if the figures were painted. In fact, in observing and comparing various types of early woodcuts, what is often primarily done is a careful comparison of the lines, rather than of the colours (which may, after all, alter from imprint to imprint).

Many lines remain ambiguous as to their intended ‘meaning’ or representation. In simply assessing Flornoy’s new restoration, what is striking are the number of minor alterations that have occured between this deck and the earlier one he made for the hand-crafted one some years ago. This reflects something that I think is highly important, especially in a work of restoration: that Flornoy is not stuck to his previous work, but rather willing to carefully revise his previous work based on careful re-visioning of the two extant decks.

Admittedly, in the trump-only hand-made version, Flornoy only had access to the BN version. I recall, when we had the pleasure to visit Roxanne and Jean-Claude in 2005, mentioning to him that I had then recently looked through the BM deck, but I was then unable to answer his questions regarding various minor details of comparisons to the BN, not having had my Dusserre copy with me at the time from which to make such comparisons. That he subsequently obtained images from the BM for the purposes of accurate image comparison, including usage of colour across those two decks, says a lot for Jean-Claude’s integrity as card-maker.

In the image that follows, I have not included all alterations between the newer and the trump-only lines used on each deck. For example, in that section of that card, attention could also be given to the more curved nature of the sleeves; the pupils of the eyes of the figure; her hair as it meets the ‘collar’ on the right hand side… and yet other details! Still, even with paying attention to ‘only’ such details as the eye of the respective eagles, the triangular form sitting atop her heart, the colouration of the base of her sceptre, and the undulating patterns on her ‘collar’ – these give sufficient evidence that with this deck is was not simply a reprint of their earlier work, but a re-composition based on what we can only hope and surmise is careful study.

Dodal tarot empress detail
Flornoy 78-card deck on the left; his 22 trump-only hand-made deck on the right

Booklet

I am not here going to compare in any detail the booklet that came with the trump-only deck with the newer one issued with this full restoration, save for one point, well worth considering. In the older booklet, Jean-Claude says that (my translation):

From a graphic perspective, the Lyonese tarot of Jean Dodal and the Avignonese tarot of Jean Payen are strangely similar, to the point of confounding them. My conclusion is therefore simple: it is the same engraver to whom we owe these two tarots from the beginning of the 18th century.

As he mentions therein and again in the newer booklet, there is a distinction to be made between a carver and a cartier (or ‘cardmaker’). I agree with him entirely on this – and emphasise this due to what is to follow. In the newer booklet, he also names that the engraver as Jacques Mermé without mentioning his sources. Given that this information is not readily accessible, it would have been useful to include sources for those amongst us who wish to check the precise nature of the claim: how much interpretation is being presented?

Personally, I too see it as likely that the carver of the Dodal and the (Jean) Payen is the same – though I personally also take it a step further, and would claim that not only is the Dodal carved by the same hand as the Payen, but that the ‘I.P.’ on the the Moon suggests that the carver is either still in the employ of Payen, or that the Dodal is carved ‘under contract’ with Payen. There is likely, therefore, more than simply a matter of carver moving from Avignon to Lyons and working for two separate houses, but also a connection at the level of the cartier-houses of Payen and Dodal.

Another small, but still very significant point, is a statement that is repeatedly made, including by Flornoy, about the supposed destruction of woodblocks: though this was indeed the case for cards in general, tarot woodblocks were specifically exempted from this otherwise legal requirement.

Enrique’s preface

Finally, I cannot omit some comments on Enrique’s suggestions for reading tarot. As Enrique well knows, we have much in common (with many others, of course) in advocating a careful looking at what is presented. Not just glancing, but rather beholding as fully as possible the imagery and its inter-relationships.

Yet it is not so much that which is here important, but rather that he manages to capture what is effectively a whole book in poetic seed-form.

With his preface together with this deck by Flornoy, we have a source of deep and essential tarot.

The Box

The design is the second of Robert Mealing’s tarot boxes, each, as far as I’m aware, constrained by the pre-determined physical box that was to be used. In other words, the visual design is his on a physical cardboard box not of his own design.

If the box is considered as an efficient storage for both marketing and collectables, then its basic structure is ideal. If the user intends to use it as a long-term enclosure to be carried around and used daily then it will need to be exchanged for something a little sturdier or (conversely) more flexible.

Given the constraints (to return to the visuals of the box), Mealing has produced, as he had for the Flornoy Noblet, an excellent and attractive package, managing to capture the deck’s essential information within the limitations of the space.

Noblet and Dodal decks

Overall

This is the deck that Marteau, I strongly suspect, would have used for the Grimaud historical revival of tarot had he had access to such between the two world wars in the first part of the 20th century.

I many ways, it is regretful that he did not, as some of the most important tarot works later written, such as Meditations on the Tarot, have instead based commentary on what is a 1760 Conver restoration.

Where to obtain a copy of the deck

It’s really somewhat sad to even have to write the above sub-heading: it should be available wherever tarot is stocked and sold!

Nonetheless, here is a brief key list.

If located within or near Europe, then I would suggest obtaining a copy directly from the Flornoys:

> www.letarot.com

If in North America, I would suggest either TarotGarden or from Enrique Enriquez (I presume they each have some in stock!):

www.enriqueenriquez.net
www.tarotgarden.com

If in Australasia, I have a few copies available:

www.fourhares.com

If elsewhere, then you’re probably the best judge of the manner in which postal services from France, the USA or Australia manage to reach you, and also the current value of your local exchange rate.

In any case, this is a(nother) deck I would without any hesitation highly recommend!

Dodal tarot boxes

Jean-Michel David
www.fourhares.com

1 comment to

1701 Dodal restored!

  • Juju

    Brilliant article. I use the Dodal deck (both print and hand-made, hand made lacking the minors though) restored by Flornoy.
    While the differences and slight alterations you have pointed out are right, this is still minor compared to some “reinterpretations” that exist on the market.
    I personnaly am a great admirer of Flornoy’s work.

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