Four LeNormand decks I own. From the top left corner, and going clockwise: the Gilded Reverie LeNormand deck by Ciro Marchetti, the Fairy Tale Fortune Cards by Liz Dean, the Enchanted LeNormand Oracle  by Caitlin Matthews, and Titania’s Fortune Cards by Titania Hardie.

The origin of the Lenormand deck is more complicated than it appears at first glance. Marie Anne Adelaide LeNormand, a popular early nineteenth century French seer, who read for many of the high and mighty in early-nineteenth-century Europe, and whose name this deck bears, is commonly-thought to have created the deck. This was because a deck of 36 cards, called ‘le petit jeu’ was found among her possessions after her death. At first, I naturally assumed Madame LeNormand must’ve been the creator.

Author Caitlin Matthews has clearly done more research into this deck’s origins than I did, and the book which came with her version of the deck set me straight. She says the deck Madame Lenormand used during her lifetime was the 32-card Piquet deck, a trick-taking card deck which originated in the 1500s, and which many cartomancers in Madame Lenormand’s day used for divining. Matthews said the deck of 36 cards we now know as the Lenormand deck was, in fact, invented by German businessman Johann Kaspar Hechtel around the year 1800 for use in a German family game, known as Das Spiel der Hoffnung, or ‘The Game of Hope.’

Marie Anne LeNormand died in 1843, and she read for people from all over Europe. It’s entirely possible she could’ve had been gifted with her set of cards from The Game of Hope by a grateful client. But there’s no word on how she came into possession of this deck, let alone any evidence she used it or invented it. Still and all, Marie-Anne LeNormand led an extraordinary life and became a supremely-successful diviner, so in the absence of any official monuments to her, this useful deck bearing her name is tribute enough (although I imagine the descendants of Johann Hechtel might wish it had been named after him instead).