I’ve got an old Royal Doulton plate with Art Nouveau poppies painted on it that I picked up for $10 at an antique show, and ever since then I’ve liked depictions of poppies. I also have several varieties of poppies growing in my garden, so when I saw the lovely floral designs on this deck I wanted it. Fortunately R. Somerville was still trading at the time and I bought this from him. I miss that man, I think of him often and hope his health has improved.
Tarot Francais des Fleurs is a tarock deck, for playing the card game of tarock. It has the conventional illustrated Majors and court cards and then playing cards with pips for the Minors. I have never played tarock, but I wanted the artwork with the poppies so I bought this deck.
This is a facsimile of a tarock deck first printed in 1902 with the Art Nouveau engraved drawings of E. Helle. I haven’t found any more information on him. At that time it only cost 60 cents. The 31-page booklet has the rules for tarock and how to score points with various amounts of people playing the game. The cards are a nice size at 113 mm x 60 mm. The original deck is conserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and this facsimile edition was published by Éditions Dusserre in Paris at an unknown date, perhaps in the 1980s or 1990s.
Click to enlarge.
The background of these cards is a pale greenish yellow which my various scanners have not had to ability to scan accurately. There is only one Joker in the deck and he looks quite devilish and is titled Fou which means Fool and echoes the tarot Fool.
I remember a few years back when Stuart Kaplan was selling off his tarock deck collection and I felt sad about that, because no one else really seems to care about them. Kaplan has some more information on tarock decks in his Encyclopedia of Tarot, particularly Volume IV, which I’ve enjoyed reading several times. I have three tarock decks which I bought for the art, but they are still neat so I wouldn’t sell them.
I like the borders on these and the stylized flowers, and the court cards are a bit different too.