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Article: Fortune Telling Cards, Ferd Pianik & Sohne, Wien, c.1800

Fortune Telling Cards, Ferd Pianik & Sohne, Wien, c.1800
During the 19th century a system of fortune telling arose in Europe using unnumbered, pictorial cards depicting popular imagery with subtitles in several languages. These cards continue to be sold today under various names such as Sehr Feine Aufschlagkarten, Fortune Telling Cards, Gypsy Fortune Telling, Zigeuner or Biedermeier Cartomancy Cards. Many seem to have originated in Austria, but they also emanate from Germany and Hungary.

These oracle cards contain several images that were originally seen as vignettes in earlier divination games as well as cartomancy sets devised by Lenormand and her successors, but the whole repertoire has become a distinctive tradition with unique images and a format of its own. They are not the same as Le Jeu du Destin or the Parlour Sibyl. The cards are unnumbered and do not contain playing card insets as the Lenormand type do. The images, which may serve to facilitate clairvoyance or just for light-hearted readings, are allegorical and evocative, presented in a popular style: Hope is a woman with an anchor, Fidelity shows a dog by his master's grave. Inconstancy in the earlier sets, showing a man and a woman quarrelling, is replaced with Constancy, an all-seeing eye (Das Auge Gottes / Oko Boží) in editions by Piatnik published in Vienna and Budapest.

The old Austrian traditional card printing company Piatnik also pruduced a small circulation of Fortune Telling Cards, at the end of the 19th century. After only a short time, Ferdinand Piatnik found out, that his new Gypsy Fortune Telling cards, the so calles Piatnik Aufschlagkarten were sold like hotcakes. Nearly 150 years now, the Piatnik company still sells this kind of fortune telling cards as Gypsy cards and there are hundred thousands of fortune teller in the world, who still use the Piatnik variant of Fortune Telling cards.

Piatnik & Söhne is an Austrian playing card company based in Vienna. The company was founded in 1824 by the card manufacturer Anton Moser (1784–1842) in Vienna's 7th district. Upon his death, his professional colleague Ferdinand Piatnik (1819–1885) took over in 1843, marrying Moser's widow a few years later. Piatnik's three sons joined the ranks in 1882 adding their names to their father's company name. Ferdinand died in 1885, leaving the successful business to his sons and his widow. By the turn of the 19th century, Ferd. Piatnik & Söhne began to expand, purchasing a sister company known as Ritter & Cie (Prague). Piatnik & Söhne are still in business today. For the past 40 years Piatnik has also produced games. The Activity game first published in 1990, has been the best-selling game in Austria for the past three years and has been translated into five languages.The Piatnik Group markets and sells through its own subsidiaries in Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the USA and in other countries through a network of exclusive distributors.

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