If you want to have gorgeous reproductions of ancient decks there are only a few ‘addresses’ in the world. One of them is the ‘webshop’ of Rinascimento and art-historian Giordano Berti. And with the Tarocchi Perrin, recently released, they offered the tarot world yet another faithful remake. The Perrin Tarot only has 600 copies. Should you stand in line for one? I’ll tell you.
As always, a Berti reproduction comes in a beautiful book-box, designed by artist Letizia Rivetti. The tobacco-colored paper, gold speckles and caramel ribbon make this box look very luxurious and a show-stopper in any tarot cupboard. The front has a World card sticker with Tarocchi Perrin written on top of it. Once opened you see the inner red velvet lining holding booklet and deck with its cream-colored band.
Sturdy & smooth
The Perrin Tarot is a deck on the smaller side (11,5×6,8cm). The cards have a back with black & white little diamonds and, if that is your thing, can be used in reverse. It’s printed on sturdy paper with a very smooth linen finish. If you ask me the card-stock is every reader’s dream: thick enough, still flexible, smooth, not sticky or slippery and with little rounded corners. It shuffles amazingly. I am sure the card’s stock will withstand the test of time.
How the Tarocchi Perrin was printed
The beauty and labor-intensity of chromolitography*
Depending on the number of colors present, a chromolithograph could take months to produce. A lithographer used an already finished painting as a model and gradually built and corrected the print to look like the model. Every image was applied to a stone or zinc plate with a grease-based crayon. After the image was drawn onto stone, the stone was gummed with gum-arabic solution, weak nitric acid and then inked with oil-based paints. It was then passed through a printing press along with a sheet of paper to transfer the image to the paper. Each color in the image had to be separately drawn onto a new stone or plate and applied to the paper one at a time. It wasn’t strange to use 20-25 stones per image.
So, where does this reproduction has its origin? Around 1865, in Turin, the publisher Claudio Perrin printed a tarot with chromolithographic* technique. Perrin was inspired by the Tarot Soprafino, a deck made about 30 years earlier by engraver Charles Dellarocca for Ferdinand Gumppenberg. The artist Perrin hired (name unknown) used similar Triumphs and style for his Major Arcana and in a way for his minors too. However, despite being inspired by Dellarocca, Claudio Perrin still created a deck that can stand on its own ’78 feet’, if you ask me. Why it was already a rare tarot back then isn’t completely clear. A possibility could be he wasn’t a well-known tarot creator and lacked the right distribution channels.
Study & symbolism
It makes us even luckier now that there is a Perrin Tarot in the 21st century. Already so many ancient decks are lost. But what does this modern remake offer a reader, other than a beautiful box and great stock? Well, if you are familiar with Ancient Italians or know how to read a Tarot de Marseille you won’t have a lot of issues to pick up symbology. You can start immediately. When I use decks like these and need reference material I use my TdM books. It’s easy to do the same with the Perrin Tarot. At least, as long as you keep in mind that you have to come up with your own meanings when certain symbols are missing or added. The same goes for the many more embellishments. Moreover, the art is on a more realistic level. But as a system you would do well to start there.
Style-wise I think the Perrin Tarot is in between the Soprafino and the Neo-classics – decks that were printed around that time as well. The Tarocchi Perrin has these gorgeous embellishments, men and women in elegant dressings, colorful backgrounds and lifelike settings. Like said before, Perrin chose the Dellarocca or Soprafino as a muse, but there are definitely differences, other than the size (wider, rounded corners).
As many Majors that seem similar, that many are also different in style and symbolism. So don’t believe the claim that the Perrin Tarot doesn’t offer its own nuances or view on the world. Il Bagatto (Magician) is completely different from anything *I* have ever had in any of my decks. In the Perrin Tarot we see a shoemaker in his shop, fixing a pair of boots, while he has a nail in his mouth, holding a hammer – ready to fix that sole. I wonder how that would influence ones readings ;-).
The World card has two lions. And while the dancing naked lady might be dancing in a wreath, she’s also standing on top of a globe. Some interesting additions to say the least. A few others then: Il Diavolo is engulfed by flames while his two minions, not chained, are holding his legs. No columns on The Moon (with a face!) and The Sun seems to be smoking a pipe :D.
The Minors are slightly disappointing for an Ancient Italian, but compared to a Tarot de Marseille you can enjoy the embellishments and coloring. I think it is an ‘in-between’. The suits are stylized in the same way as the Soprafino but Perrin chose to use less detail and adornments (especially in the Swords) and focused on yellow tints, making it monotonous at times. So: Tarocchi Perrin is overruled by the Soprafino in prettiness when it comes to the suits, but absolutely surpasses the TdM in elegance. If those things are important to you.
What I liked most about this deck – next to some of the drapery on the figures – is the variety in backgrounds. The figures and characters have rooms or nature behind them, giving the cards a lot more dimension. (The Page of Pentacles actually has a treasure chest!). It is definitely one of the pro’s. I also see a difference in coloring with the Soprafino in the Trumps.
In general it is lighter and brighter than the ones used in its inspiration deck and I liked some of the extra details. Those never become ‘too weird’ or ‘too out there’ but give the deck something of a more modern feel. And a wink here or there, like Papa fume une pipe while looking down at his dancing couple.
Other than most Ancient Italian decks, or tarot decks in general, the Majors in Tarocchi Perrin have actual arabic numbers next to the titles, no Latin; So you will see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 et cetera on the Triumphs instead of I, II, III… Also: Death is named. Strength (La Forza) is 11 and Justice (La Giustizia) is 8. Unexpectedly the minors have both the latin and arabic numbering. If you see the four of swords, you see four of the suit symbols, the 4 and IV.
The Perrin Tarot is an expressive deck, directional readings are very possible and characters are easily recognizable. The titles are obviously in Italian, but if you don’t read that language you won’t have any issue identifying the right cards.
What I do not particularly like about this deck is that white border. There isn’t one in the original Tarocchi Perrin. Moreover, since the border is very white and the actual print of the reproduction is on ‘yellowish cream’ paper, the remake almost gets a greenish glow. The Perrin Tarot already has its own typical 19th century line border, which makes the white line a secondary one. For me it is a blemish on a deck that otherwise is so faithful to its original. I would have preferred a better solution for this (as in full bleed print and no white border).
Due to the faithfulness of the reproduction some of the acid stains (yellow/orange-ish blemishes) are viewable, but there are also horizontal black lines or dots that distort the image a bit. I am not sure if this is due to the quality of the original or because that was a result of way the coloring in the images had to be built up. But it does give you the feeling this was made by non-modern machinery. If you think it adds or subtracts from the beauty of the deck, I will leave that up to you 😉
The Little (brown) White Booklet, LWB, might be a disappointment to some, since it doesn’t offer any meanings or insight into symbolism. It basically is an article, including footnotes and imagery, based on historical research on the Perrin Tarot done by Giordano Berti. I love that, but if you were looking for ways to read this deck I’d have to disappoint you. I’d have to refer you to TdM material again. (But between you and me: a book on Ancient Italians and their symbolism, instead of the TdM: that’s a publication I’d love to read and review!)
In some cases I like to ask a deck what it has to offer readers. It is rarely surprising and in this case it also had a bit of ‘cheekiness’. The Perrin Tarot answered me in Chariot, La Papessa and the X of Cups. This deck is a luxury item (VII), and will also ask some studying of you before you can grasp those reigns and go ahead. The wisest thing would be to use your knowledge of these type of decks and other than that let your intuition take control (II). It will give you the best results. The Perrin Tarot will take center stage as soon as you have it within your collection. It’s a leader (X Coppa) amongst your other divination products and it wants you to know that.
After weeks of using this deck I concur, which is why I made me smile. It took me a bit to connect, but once I let my instincts take over, I had some pretty amazing reads with it. For me it is like Soprafino’s more outgoing little brother who knows what the street language is nowadays, but is still fancy enough to wear dress shirts and elegant shoes ;-).
Rinascimento/Berti’s decks aren’t the cheapest and neither is this one, but it does offer you high quality card-stock, an amazing storage box and a limited edition of an already rare find. If you’re into Ancient Italians I can only say this one definitely has its own unique place in any collection. It is original enough to offer you a different read. Also, it is is an easy enough deck to start with if you’re more into the TdM or likeminded decks but want a more realistic style with adornments. So, to answer my own question if you need to get in line…wait, you mean, you haven’t bought it yet?
|Author or artist||Publisher||Publication|
|Claudio Perrin/Giordano Berti||Rinascimento||2016|