"Editions "letarot.com" (France)
deck "Provost" (600 copies), 1999
hand-colored reprint from 1793
Full deck (52 cards), blank back, dimension 57x85 mm.
there is a leaflet (in french), pages:
gift of Jean-Claude Flornoy
English translation of French leaflet:
Master paper-maker in Sainte-Suzanne (Mayenne)
Deck of 52 cards, dated 1793
The Provost family was important in Sainte-Suzanne, with origins tracing back to 1680. The « Provost papeteries » ran as many as seven paper mills, including those of Gohart and Saugère, on the Erve river. The paper they produced was such high-quality that the mills specialised in paper destined to be sold to the Tours-region card-makers, to which they were administratively attached.
With the Revolution, taxes on playing cards were abolished. Certain towns were authorised to produce cards, and Provost took advantage of this opportunity. He ordered an unknown engraver to execute service-wood plates in the « Paris portrait » style. This wooden engraving is now preserved in the Musée de l’Auditoire of Sainte-Suzanne.
In 1798 the regime of taxes and urban franchise-holders was restored, and the Provost paper-mills stopped making paper for cards.
The graphics of the engraved plate preserved in the Musée de l’Auditoire are of particular interest. As it was produced during the Revolutionary era, the Queens bear laurel wreaths, while the Kings still wear crowns. Since the town was located in chouan* territory, the engraver was politically astute enough to deftly humor both republicans and chouans.
The Provost mills didn’t modernise in time to avoid bankruptcy, and the dynasty expired definitively in 1840.
*Chouans were royalist and pro-cleric resistants, especially active in western France, who opposed the revolution and republican principles. They took on a guerilla-style behaviour, hiding out in forests and attacking republican forces whenever possible.