Square of Sevens - E. Irenaeus Stevenson [Cartomancy]
This scarce and charming 1900 book, here in first edition, is a guide to how to read the cards using playing cards. It is illustrated throughout with diagrams illustrating Stevenson's cartomancy method. E. Irenaeus Stevenson relates the origin of the work, tracing it back to an episode in a travellers inn near Bath in 1731 when a Romany man, one Mr 'George X', revealed his people's secret cartomancy system to a gentleman named Mr Antrobus. Antrobus subsequently issued it to the wider public, hence Mr Stevenson's explanation of his publication. This tale has been studied by Mary K. Greer, whose investigations show it to be a fabulation, and the system to be created by Stevenson himself (see article here). It is a good one, however, and the book - as well as the card-reading system - is a beauteous and valuable document of 19th-century cartomancy. It was first published in 1897 in the United States, then three years later issued in the UK, and our copy is of this first British edition, published in 1900.
Publication. The Square of Sevens; An Authoritative System of Cartomancy. E. Irenaeus Stevenson. London: George Redway. 1900. First English Edition. 7.5” x 5” 97pp.
Volume and condition. Attractively rebound (By E. Worrall, bookbinder, of Birmingham) in early 20th century black morocco leather and marbled boards with a green cloth title label to the spine (which I believe has been removed from the original cloth binding). Top edge gilt. Internally clean. The cover illustration of the original cloth binding, depicting a mysterious hooded figure with accompanying cat seeking the secrets of the cards, has been bound in at the front. An exceptionally scarce and beautifully produced book.