The practice of fortune telling, still popular today, grew out of beliefs in Renaissance magic and folklore. There are many ways to tell a fortune. Tarot card decks appeared as early as the 1400s; gaming was their first purpose. Soon, however, they became associated more with magic and mysticism, and eventually, fortune telling. Standard card decks evolved early too, and while their main purpose has always been gaming, they too are used for fortune telling. Perhaps the countless possibilities of cards in a shuffled deck led to this. Aware of the public fascination for learning about the future, European and American game manufacturers were quick to produce special fortune-telling card games. These were common in the late 19th century and can still be found today.
Dated 1882, this is a Selchow & Righter version of a fortune-telling card game. Unlike many of the comptetition's card games, this version has very detailed instructions and very decorative cards--based on the Lenormand 36-card system used by the McLoughlin games of the same era.