A Tarot Timeline

by Yvonne Rathbone

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The Middle Ages & The Rennaissance:

1377: According to Dummett, the earliest mention of playing cards.

144?: A paining entitled "The Tarocchi Players".

1442: Tarot cards ordered for the Court of Ferrara.

Bembo, an Italian artist produces several decks, of which portions still exist. Some are commissioned by Filippo Maria Viscounti prior to his death in 1447.

1450-80: A sermon is recorded that list the Trumps.

1457: The Bishop of Florence refers to both cards and tarot, indicating they are considered different things, in "Treatise of Theology."

c1470: The first "Tarocchi de Mantegna" are produced.

1471: Two codices at the Biblioteca Vaticaa show figures from the Tarocchi de Mantegna.

1488: Galcottus Martius speculates on the allegorical significance of the four suits in De Doctrina Promiscua.

1496-1506: Albrecht Durer produces a set of 21 tarochhi cards based on the Tarocchi de Mantegna.

1557: Catelin Geogroy Tarot Cards is the earliest set of Tarot cards containing a numbered sequence.

1652-1654: Athanasius Kircher describes the Mensa Isiaca, or Tablet of Isis, a folding plate of possibly ancient origin containing symbolism found in the Tarot, specifically the 21 sacred signs of the alphabet of Thoth.

Early Occultists

1748: Grimaud pulishes its first deck of cards.

1760: N. Conver publishes his version of a Tarot de Marseille style pack.

1781: Court De Gebelin (Antoine Gebelin) publishes "Le Monde Primatif" in which he asserts that the Tarot must be Egyptian in origin because it contains hidden symbolism. Gebelin attributes Hebrew letters to the cards.

1784: Court De Gebelin dies

1785: Etteilla publishes the first book devoted to divination by Tarot.

c.1788: Etteilla publishes the first deck specifically for esoteric purposes, including divination.

1799: Rosetta Stone discovered

1813: Antoine Fabre d'Olivet publishes "Les Vers Dores de Pythagore Expliques" in which he gives mystical interpretations to sayings attributed to Pythagoras.

1814: Antonio Dargoni describes a connection between the structure of the Tarot and Pythagorean number theory.

1816: Antoine Fabre d'Olivet publishes "La Lange Hebraique Restituee," a grammar of biblical Hebrew.

1823: Lenain publishes "La Science Kabbalistique".

1829: Eusebe Solverte publishes "Des Sciences Occultes".

1842: Michel Constant Leber puts forth the idea that some of the Major Arcana cards were derived from early Eastern Idols

1854: d'Ambly mentions gypsy origin for Tarot.

Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant) publishes "Dogma et Rituel de la Haute Magie" in which he popularizes and expounds upon Gebelin's Kabbalistic associations.

1857: Valliant publishes study of gypsies that reinforces Tarot origin theory.

1861: Levi meets with Englishman Kenneth Mackenzie, a member of the Soceitas Rosivruciana in Anglia.

1863: Paul Christian publishes "L'Homme rouge des Tuileries"

1865: Taylor mentions gypsy origin for Tarot.

1870: Paul Chrisitan publishes "Histoire de la Magie."

1888: The Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn founded.

1889: Papus (Gerard Encausse) publishes "Le Tarot des Bohemiens" in which he summarizes many of the strands of thought found in earlier occultists' theories.

1889: Oswald Wirth, a Swiss occultist writing in French, publishes a Majors only deck.

1891: A.E. Waite joins the Golden Dawn.

1898: Aleister Crowley joins the Golden Dawn.

 The Modern Tarot:

1909: Waite publishes his tarot deck. Designed by Pixie Smith, this deck will become the most popular deck in the English speaking world.

1910: Waite publishes "The Pictorial Key to the Tarot".

1913: St. Petersberg, P. D. Ouspendsky structures the tarot deck as a representation of God, placing the 21 Major Arcana

1920's: Paul Foster Case puts forth the theory that the tarot was invented around the year 1200 by a group of wisemen meeting in Fez.

1927: Wirth publishes "The Tarot Of The Magicians".

1929: J. A. Knapp publishes the Knapp Tarot.

1944: Crowley publishes the "Thoth" tarot book with illustrations of a deck painted by Lady Frieda Harris.

1966: Gertrude Moakley advances the theory that the Major Arcana were designed to model Petrarch's poem "Triumphi."

1973: Aquarian Tarot is published.