Ur-Lenormand - Game of Hope

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Ur-Lenormand - Game of Hope

Post by Nemia » 27 Sep 2017, 08:10

The Ur-Lenormand is a dream come true for me. I love the glimpse into pastimes of the past that this deck gives us. It was published by Alexander Glück for AGM Urania and Königsfurt Urania.

The German syllable Ur- means original or primal - the Ur-Mensch is the primal human being, and the Ur-Faust the original version of Goethe's famous play. The Ur-Lenormand is the modest game from which the current Lenormand craze grew. (I'm old enough to remember the times when Lenormand was virtually unknown outside German speaking countries!)

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This game, released in Germany in 1799, is called the Game of Hope (Spiel der Hoffnung) and works a bit like Snake and Ladders. You lay out the cards and put marks in a pot for rewards and/or punishments. Each player has a play figure and throws two dice - and now the players move from card to card according to the numbers thrown. If you land on a lucky card, you can either take marks or move up. But if you're unlucky, you have to pay into the pot or have to go back to a lower spot.

The motifs on the cards that served as playing field? A rider, fox, coffin, mice, birds, rods.... in short, the whole Lenormand menagerie.

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Was it used for fortune telling or was that a later development? The lwb tells the story. It's an irony of fate that these harmless cards were published as fortune telling cards, under the name of Mademoiselle Lenormand who never saw them and most probably never even heard of them.

Well, the original cards are here before us, in a beautiful reprint, in a sturdy, smooth box with lift-off lid and with a highly interesting lwb in three languages (and with a reprint of the original game instructions - what a pity it's too tiny to read!).

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The cards are largish for Lenormand cards (8.5 x 11 cm), printed on smooth, matte paper that looks like original 18th/19th century paper made from rags and darkened over time. A lovely presentation with reversible clover-decorated cardbacks.

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The cards are beautifully symmetrical because they have two playing card inserts: on the upper left, the German suits (acorns, bells, hearts, leaves), and on the upper right, the French suits (clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades). That's wonderful for me because I have a weakness for German, Swiss and Hungarian playing cards which use these suits.

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Between these inserts, the number of the card is printed - and now we understand where the numerical sequence comes from. The creators of the game tried to mix good, bad and neutral cards as much as possible to make the game more exciting. Like the game of life of course.

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The illustrations are simple coloured engravings with cross hatch. Some of the typical Lenormand iconography didn't develop yet - it would be interesting to see when and how each motif developed into the images we know today!

The dog is not sitting and looking at us with faithful eyes but running and hunting.

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The clouds are dark and looming, and it's difficult to find a bright side.

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The card meanings given in the lwb are very short and simple - obviously that wouldn't be enough for a beginner to start reading with the deck.

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The deck reads very very well, at least for me. The simplicity and clarity of the images makes this a good reading deck if you take into account that some cards look different from their successors.

I have played with my little niece the Game of Hope as board game, and she loved it. Simple as it is, it's great fun (she won of course), and I love the feeling of playing something that was popular in the 19th century; maybe my ancestors played it?

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There is an excellent in-depth review in LeFanu's blog if you want to know more about this deck.

I'm very happy I have this deck and it's one of my firm favorites. Alexander Glück did a wonderful job, and he did the Lenormand community a favor with this wonderful and affordable edition of a seminal historical deck.

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Barleywine
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Re: Ur-Lenormand - Game of Hope

Post by Barleywine » 27 Sep 2017, 09:25

This one is on my short Lenormand wish-list. It keeps bouncing around in price, from under $10 to over $40 and now back under $20. I hope to catch it at the next low point.

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Re: Ur-Lenormand - Game of Hope

Post by DownUnderNZer » 10 Oct 2017, 06:44

Short video of the entire deck. I like almost all the cards except maybe Sun and Mountain.

Ur or Primal Lenormand
Truth will always be truth, regardless of lack of understanding, disbelief or ignorance. W. Clement Stone

Be the change you wish to see in the world. Ghandi.

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Re: Ur-Lenormand - Game of Hope

Post by Nemia » 10 Oct 2017, 07:18

Great video! If you look at the card inserts, you will notice that the German cards have no queens. Their court cards are Unter, Ober , König, i.e., Lower (rank), Higher (rank), and King.

Unter = Jack, Ober = Queen, König = King

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Re: Ur-Lenormand - Game of Hope

Post by DownUnderNZer » 10 Oct 2017, 08:53

It is a fantastic deck and the cards are quite larger than normal unless she has small hands. I think I will be ordering it before I go to bed tonight.

German deck? Appealing indeed.

DND :wave:


Nemia wrote:
10 Oct 2017, 07:18
Great video! If you look at the card inserts, you will notice that the German cards have no queens. Their court cards are Unter, Ober , König, i.e., Lower (rank), Higher (rank), and King.

Unter = Jack, Ober = Queen, König = King
Truth will always be truth, regardless of lack of understanding, disbelief or ignorance. W. Clement Stone

Be the change you wish to see in the world. Ghandi.

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