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Masque of the Red Death Tarot Cards
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 Posted: Wed Jun 2nd, 2021 11:24 pm
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Marcus
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The Masque of the Red Death from 1964, staring Vincent Price, features a series of tarot cards during the closing credits of the movie. Although it is possible that these cards were created by the art department specifically for this movie, I am hoping that someone recognizes the cards as having come from an existing deck. The Empress, Hanged Man, and Death cards are not numbered, while the other Majors are numbered, indicating at least two different decks or artists.

Of particular interest is the card in the bottom left corner of the photo that features a water pitcher with legs, arms, and face, which has water pouring from its mouth. Also of interest are the Empress card (center of top row), who appears to have a duck's bill protruding from her bonnet, and the card in the upper right corner of the photo that features a figure inside a barrel.

I apologize for the poor quality of the photo, but it's a screen shot from the movie whose original blood-red image was very difficult to enhance. If I ever get my hands on the new 4K restoration of the film that came out earlier this year, I will try to upload a better photo.

Any information as to the origin of these cards will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Attachment: Masque of the Red Death.jpg (Downloaded 53 times)

Last edited on Thu Jun 3rd, 2021 04:35 am by Marcus

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 Posted: Thu Jun 3rd, 2021 09:18 am
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gregory
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Did you not ask about this on AT MANY years ago ? but without a screenie. One or two of those cards do look familiar, but I couldn't find it then either....

What is rather odd is that that card with a huge sun appears to be Le Mat.... but bears the number XI....

The barrels are a bit Bosch-y.

Last edited on Thu Jun 3rd, 2021 09:45 am by gregory

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 Posted: Thu Jun 3rd, 2021 09:50 am
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gregory
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imdb says:

The closing credits play over high-contrast monochrome footage, tinted bright red, of a hand laying down rows of cards, one by one, from a medieval Tarocchi deck.

Mediaeval ?

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 Posted: Thu Jun 3rd, 2021 06:42 pm
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Marcus
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That was not me over at AT, although I have seen others raise this question online from time to time. I had contacted Mr. McLean a number of years ago to inquire about a couple of tarot decks I was looking for. I included a copy of this screen shot hoping that he would recognize the cards. He said that some of the cards looked familiar, but he could not remember where he had seen them. Hopefully some of the other forum members might be able to enlighten us.

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 Posted: Thu Jun 3rd, 2021 07:26 pm
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gregory
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I know the feeling - I have a catalogue of my rather extreme collection and one of the cards I always scan in is Death, And I know I have seen that death before - but I don't own it... Also it is VERY odd as a deck, if you look at the card numbers...

That Empress rings a bell, too...

I've run it by mates on another forum - same thing: "looks familiar but cannot place it."

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 Posted: Thu Jun 3rd, 2021 07:39 pm
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Marcus
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The numbering and the stylistic differences seem to indicate that the cards are from at least two different decks. Another oddity is that the card in the center of the bottom row is titled in French as the King of Swords, and yet the figure appears to be holding a Baton.

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 Posted: Thu Jun 3rd, 2021 09:08 pm
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gregory
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But Le Mat seems to bear the number XI. You have to admit that is very odd. And the Hermit looks like XXII - and the card numbered X doesn't look like any kind of Fortune...

Last edited on Thu Jun 3rd, 2021 09:08 pm by gregory

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 Posted: Fri Jun 4th, 2021 01:48 am
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Marcus
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I agree that the numbering is very odd. The following quote is an excerpt from the website linked below, which may have some bearing on the odd numbering of these cards:

“My conclusion is obvious; there is no direct link between a specific trump card and a certain number. On the Tarot of Marseille there is, but looking to all tarot games ever made before the Tarot of Marseille, there is no link at all. Because of the many regional differences, card makers started to number the trump cards in order to indicate the order that should be used for their specific version of the Tarot Game. So the trumps are not numbered, they are ordered. If a number is shown on a trump card, this indicates a relative value, over how many other trump cards this specific card trumps. It also is a visual help for card players in a game to determine which card is higher. So forget all those tens of thousands of pages that has been written about Tarot numerology, originally, a trump card does not correspond to a specific number, the trump cards are ordered.”

https://tarotwheel.net/structure/the%20trumps/the%20trumps%20ordered%20or%20numbered.html

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 Posted: Fri Jun 4th, 2021 09:17 am
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gregory
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The cards referred to on that site bear NO numbers though. I've never seen any other deck with completely unusual (as you might say) numbers like this.

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 Posted: Thu Aug 26th, 2021 11:12 pm
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Marcus
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Upon a recent read-through of The Encyclopedia of Tarot, Volume II, by Stuart Kaplan, I spotted a deck on page 337 with a similarly unusual ordering of the cards, particularly The Fool, who appears on card XV (see photo below). The High Priest and High Priestess appear as cards II & III, while the Emperor and Empress (called The King and The Queen) appear as cards IV & V. Also unusual is the fact that The Moon card features a stag, a bird, and a bull, rather than the traditional pair of dogs (photo available in Volume II of T.E.o.T.). The deck is called Le Grandprêtre Tarot and is listed as being in the possession of the United States Playing Card Company Museum.

This discovery gives me some hope that the Masque of the Red Death cards may have come from an existing deck, rather than having been created by the art department for the movie. Based on what I have been able to find out so far, the museum appears to no longer be in operation. This is unfortunate because their collection of cards was reported to span at least 500 years and to contain many unusual decks from around the world. They may have been able to assist in identifying the Red Death cards.

Attachment: Grandprêtre Tarot.jpg (Downloaded 14 times)

Last edited on Thu Aug 26th, 2021 11:32 pm by Marcus

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