Of all the decks that most deserve a mini, the Petit Lenormand must surely be top of the list. There are those decks – like Gluck’s Wahrsagen à la Lenormand, or the 1920s Carreras cigarette card Lenormands – which are naturally small and fit comfortable into a loosely cupped hand. Then there are the ones which set out to be mini, start life as minis, the whole point of them is that they’re minis. I had a feeling recently that I really needed a Lenormand deck in this format. Only the one. Just as I thought a few years ago how I only really needed one tarot deck. But, yes, I only really need one mini Lenormand and thus put the desire (before it became a compulsion) on the back burner and waited for the right mini Lenormand to come sailing past. And sail past it did maybe a month or so ago; the Purple Dragon mini Dondorf Lenormand deck, available here and which has since been reissued in a larger size with two Lord and Lady cards for same sex readings. The mini version does not have these extra cards, it just has all the convenience of a mini deck. Plus of course the Dondorf Lenormand is (in my opinion) simply the most beautiful of the historical Lenormands. Everything about it feels just right. It doesn’t have that awkward, stiff, folkish artwork from somewhere dark in the mountains, which I tend to find amusing and not always endearing in some of the ones over at the Lenormand Museum. It feels accomplished, well-rounded, fully-formed, cosmopolitan. A Lenormand for sophisticated city life and the beau monde. A Lenormand for salons not taverns, to be shuffled and dealt to the sound of polkas not hurdy gurdies. The quality of the engraving seems superior to many of the historical ones and the anatomical drawing (glossing over the Fox card) is convincing, detailed and has volume not merely outlines.
Of course I needed a mini Lenormand decks for all those Grand Tableau spreads I do in confined places. Like the middle seat on aeroplanes – with elbows pressed close to my sides – or in a lavatory cubicle. Ok, I may be joking, but it is good to have a deck which allows you to lay out all 36 cards in a space the size of a laptop. In fact, while my Purple Dragon mini Dondorf Lenormand was in its pouch in the post and taking a long time to arrive, I found a small wooden plinth on the flea market which I cleaned up and polished – see above – and thought would be ideal for having on my reading table (it has a drawer for keeping antique medals or coins in; neither of which I collect). When my mini deck arrived, I discovered that I could do a 9 by 4 Grand Tableau which fitted exactly on this plinth (see below). Other decks – like the Lo Scarabeo French Cartomancy deck (another Dondorf reproduction), though attractive, are quite large and you need a decent-sized dining table to lay out a Grand Tableau.
Most readers probably have hands which are smaller than mine and I have to confess that these cards, measuring 1¾” x 2½”, are quite small for me to shuffle. I don’t have undue difficulty, but the Lo Scarabeo French Cartomancy Lenormand deck is much easier to shuffle. However, in terms of the practicality of laying out the cards, the Purple Dragon mini Dondorf is far preferable and it’s not impossibly small as can be seen from the photograph at the top of this post which shows the deck next to a standard playing card.
I was very heartened to discover from the creator that she had been inspired by my post here of the antique Lilac Dondorf which I own and have written about here. I suppose if I were really organised, I would scan and print my own copy, but I don’t have the equipment at home and none of the copy shops I go to ever have card which seems appropriate or professional enough. Plus I don’t have time (not now, anyway) to dedicate time to this. Plus – I suppose – I’m lazy and happily use the original because I have that luxury. Maybe one day I’ll work on it, but the day I start, I know that there are so many details that I will want to get right, so much cleaning up of the image I’d like to do, so much of the colouring I’d like to reproduce exactly, that for the moment I am more than happy to be able to take this version out of the house and use it. Each day that passes we have a wider selection of Petit Lenormands to choose from, something for all tastes, something for all moods within these subdivisions of taste. Yet it’s like my taste in books; I may read widely and experiment but there always comes a time when I want to go back to the classics, back to the time-tested favourites that have spanned centuries, which give depth not width. I feel like this with the Dondorf model. It’s like going back to the wisdom of another era, unlocking a quieter sort of advice in a world where so many Lenormands seem to be galloping to keep up with one another. I know in my heart that the Dondorf won’t ever be upstaged. And this mini version now means that we can tap into that quiet advice almost anywhere.