The Game of Hope from 1799 is first in my Little European Decks series.

I decided, some time ago, to explore a bunch of decks smaller and less popular than tarot. A period of hiatus got in the way, though. During it, I plunged deep into an unrelated obsession, and also got sick. Phew.

Long story short, this deck is thought to be the original Lenormand. As its name indicates, The Game of Hope, created by German businessman Johann Kaspar Hechtel, was marketed as a tabletop game. Players formed a board with the cards, rolled their dice, placed their marks and even sang popular songs as they landed on different houses.

That said, divination is also mentioned in the instructions:

With these same cards it is also possible to play a game of oracles (…) spinning a jocular tale (…) around the figures on display. This will bring much entertainment to any merry company.

Those figures were based on coffee-ground emblems, a type of illustration that was accompanied by a brief message of moral guidance. Here is an entire book of emblems from the days of yore, for the curious!

I will delve into the process of “spinning a jocular tale” in my next post.