The Acquisitions Table: American Fortune Telling Cards

American Fortune Telling Cards, with Directions. New York and Philadelphia: Turner & Fisher, after 1835. 36 cards with box.
AAS has several sets of fortune telling cards in its Toys and Games collection. This set features typical four-suit cards suggesting travel, wealth, poverty, love, etc., but is distinctive because many of the images feature American eagles, allegories of Liberty, and American flags. Produced in Philadelphia by Turner & Fisher, who also printed almanacs and children’s books, this set of cards was sold at bookstores up and down the eastern seaboard, starting in 1835. Advertisements read: “Peeps into Futurity, or a Knowledge of what is to come, will be revealed in the most infallible manner by the new American Fortune Telling Cards, which are founded upon the true scientific principles of the ancient Horoscope.” The price varied from bookseller to bookseller, ranging from 15 cents a box to 25 cents per box.

Published by

Lauren Hewes

Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society

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