This delightful set was a gift from my collector friend, Mike Barker and while looking over the beautiful packaging and charming cards of this 78 card deck I
immediately felt inspired to write a
el Tarot de Marcelino
was destined to be a hand-crafted set due to its unique style and old world
charm which lends itself wonderfully to a more personal style of presentation. Ly Narciso explains that
el Tarot de Marcelino
is a pun on both the ancient "Marseilles" Tarot deck and the notorious Spanish film "Marcelino, Pan y Vino."
The titles on the Major Arcana are in Spanish and are not numbered, but those familiar with
traditional decks such as the Marseilles should have no trouble identifying the cards.
The Pips, following the Marseilles tradition, have symbols rather than scenes. The four Aces are
striking in design as are the court cards. These are also titled in Spanish, with cards 2-10 having the
required number of same-style symbols and the number of the card written in a
complimentary font. The court cards are easy to identify,
for the Page, Knight, Queen
and King hold
the symbol and pose associated with their card.
I was charmed to discover this deck has a special bonus card,
The Happy Squirrel,
a nod no doubt to the Simpson's episode when Lisa has an unnerving encounter with a Tarot reader.
Personally I don't tend to go for overly cute decks, but this one, while undeniably adorable, has a consistency
of character and subtle wit and this matched with the dark earthy tones and old timey printing style make
it a comfortable fit. The design of this deck is a similar look to woodcut print.
I especially appreciate the art of the Major Arcana, which while traditional, has its own unique
personality. The cards are more the size of playing card decks at 4" High by 3" Wide
(10.16 x 7.62 cm). The background of the cards serves also as a narrow brown border, and
since the Majors and Court cards are teaming with imagery, they do well with this bit of
graceful space around the edges.
Everything about this set is focused on a certain look and theme which is a refreshing change from so many
mass produced decks that seem to be slapped together, while cutting costs at every turn.
The box which appears to be hand-crafted (and if in indeed it is, I marvel at its perfection),
is made of sturdy cardstock and opens like a book, having dark colored binding on the side that remains closed.
The brown cardstock of the box has a delicate floral print that lends a cheery touch.
A burgundy colored ribbon is glued to the back and ties the set together nicely.
The backs are a pretty yet simple floral design which is reversible. The corners are rounded and the deck seems
like it would hold up rather well to light shuffling (though I plan to treasure it in its pristine condition).
The cards are printed on brown 'kraft' cardstock and have a light protective coating though the finish is matte (in
keeping with the old-fashioned appeal of the deck).
The deck has a title card and a signed and numbered signature card. It is limited to 70 copies. There is no LWB with individual descriptions and interpretations of the cards however the set includes a 6 page
brown colored leaflet which explains the 'ancient history' of this deck.
This remarkable series of images was discovered among other personal possessions of one Constance,
Duchess of L_____ (one of them a very telling diary filled with local scandals and intrigues of the time).
They were presumably a copy of an older set of woodcuts, as several other sets of cards with similar faces have
been noted dating from earlier periods, elsewhere –though none with all 78 cards intact. There are many
speculations regarding their date of creation. Most scholars however would agree to dating them within the
Since during those times, engravers did not generally sign their work, experts have found it convenient to refer
to the creator of these images as the Not-So-Master of Cutesy Cards. His style is characterized by a general
pudginess of the faces of the figures, a charming imbalance in eye sizes, and four-fingered hands. These,
experts say, are very telling signs of his inclination to the occult. Little is known of his background,
though with the themes and general mood of his creations, it is widely believed that he was left-handed,
walked with a slight limp on the right leg, had an extra finger in his right hand, slept poorly, was a
frequented patron of taverns and was confined to an asylum more than once in his lifetime...
I recommend this deck to Tarot artists, scholars and collectors, especially those with an eye
for unique design,
who cherish specialty boxes and decks made with personal attention and care. It is currently available but
seeing as there are only 70 sets in existence and it is reasonably priced, all things considered,
I imagine it will be soon be out of print (a link where to order and a bit about the artist is included below).
el Tarot de Marcelino