Tarot Balbi

This deck from Fournier is one that you don't see every day. It has simple line drawings which are brightly colored. The scenes on the Majors appear to be based on the Marseilles. The deck is from Spain and the card titles are in English on the top border and Spanish on the bottom border. Each card has a roman numeral, astrological glyph, Hebrew letter and corresponding number. These appear in various places on different cards. Balbi uses the French Qabalistic assignments and follows the Marseilles tradition of not numbering the Fool or naming Death, though the Fool is assigned to position XXI with the World assigned XXII. The colorful style leads to strange things like green or purple hair and pink skies. The Court consists of King, Queen, Knight and Page, though the names are in Spanish instead of English (Rey, Reina, Caballo, Sota). The Minor Arcana are pips with the number of items arranged in a pattern. Each suit is numbered from one to fourteen, with the court cards being assigned the numbers eleven through fourteen. The pips are not particularly suggestive of the cards' moods or feelings and at first appeared to me to have been drawn to be pleasing to the eye vice symbolic. I subsequently got more information about this deck from a discussion on Tarot-l*. The elemental assignments in this deck are:

Per Mary Greer: "Balbi based his deck on the work of Eudes Picard, whose book "Manuel Synthetique et Pratique du Tarot" was published in Paris in 1909. [According to Kaplan's bibliography (Vol. 1), an Italian translation was published in 1968.]....He [Picard] is the acknowledged source for the cartomantic interpretations in the anonymous "Encyclopedia of Occult Sciences" (McBride&Co., 1939)....The descriptions quoted from Picard are precisely those of Balbi." Apparently Balbi used those descriptions to draw his deck making minor changes, and adding details to the descriptions found in the "Encyclopedia of Occult Sciences." You won't find this information in the little booklet.

The little booklet that comes with the deck provides information in three languages: Spanish, French and English. It begins by providing several theories of tarot origin, focusing heavily on the Egyptian theory. Upright and reversed meaning are provided for each card. The interpretations seem fairly traditional. A description for the Celtic Cross is provided, though this one has you lay the cards out in a straight line at the end of the reading and interpret them in pairs for what it calls "...the detailed interpretation" as opposed to the "...basic reading."

I recommend this deck primarily for collectors, or for those who want a brightly colored deck based on the Marseilles.

Tarot Balbi
Heraclio Fournier S.A.
P.O. Box 94-01080
Vitoria Spain

*Tarot-l is a mail list devoted to the discussion of Tarot. The quoted material was used with the permission of the author.

See more cards from the Balbi Tarot (Images copyright 1992, H. Fournier, S.A.)


Review Copyright 1997  Michele Jackson
Page Copyright 2000 Diane Wilkes