Kipper is a young form of cartomancy that comes to us from Germany and is like Lenormand, but the reading method is a bit different. Fin de Siecle translates to “end of the century,” and by this, it is the end of the 19th century that lends its Victorian clothing styles, architecture, and the early inventions of the Industrial Revolution to the images depicted in the Fin de Siecle Kipper created by renown Tarot artist, Ciro Marchetti.
The cards measure 4 1/8″ x 2 11/16″. The finish is a high gloss that gives the images of the Fin de Siecle Kipper a lovely sheen. The cards glide smoothly against one another in shuffling and laying out spreads. I really enjoy the feel of this deck. The card stock of my copy was a bit stiff at first, which is common with a brand new deck, but it loosened up after about 10 – 15 times of rifle shuffling.
The images of the Fin de Siecle Kipper are contained within a silver border and the entire card is set against a black background. I love decks with a black background. The black really helps the colors to “pop,” and in my opinion, make for a much greater visual impact than card decks that use a white background. There are no playing card inserts as with Lenormand and also the card images do not contain a short verse as many Lenormand decks do because Kipper, though somewhat similar, is really a different system that is also read somewhat differently from Lenormand. The card number appears at top of the image within a silver circle to match the frame of the image and the title appears in white against a black background centered at the base of the image. The card numbers and titles are completely non-intrusive. The deck has a lovely silver gilding that does NOT come off on your hands as it can with some decks. You can see in the simple photo here taken with my iPhone 6 how the gilding reflects the colors in the room. It also has a lovely iridescent quality to it.
The box measures 4 5/8″ x 3 1/8″ x 1″. The box has a flap that comes down over the spine on the right-hand side of the box. The flap closes magnetically so the box can be stored upright and will not fall open. The main illustration features Card. No. 4: Courtship. Three card images are featured on the rear of the box: Card No. 2: Main Female, Card No. 16 Thoughts, and Card No. 10 Journey. There is silver gilding along both sides of the front cover illustration and also around the deck creator’s name. It is a lovely compact package that makes it very easy to carry this deck with you for us card readers who are on the go or never leave home with out a deck.
The accompanying guidebook measures 4 1/8 X 2 3/4″ and is the same size as the cards. It contains 83 pages. There are NO Kipper books written in English except for the guidebook for the Fin de Siecle Kipper. All sources are written in German. You may think due to its diminutive size that the guidebook does not have much to offer, but you would be VERY wrong. The introduction is written by Ciro Marchetti and includes how the deck came to be and his reasoning for changing the cultural setting of the card images from the original Bavarian environment to that of Victorian Great Britain. This includes a short discussion of the massive societal impact of the Industrial Revolution, which is evident in several card images. There are secondary introductions from two of three contributing authors, Kipper experts Fortune Buchholtz and Stella Waldvogel. The third contributing author is Susanne Zitzl. The co-authors come from different backgrounds and include a brief introduction as to the manner they use to read Kipper cards.
Card interpretations open with a tiny black and white image of the card next to each contributing author’s interpretation. Interpretations are presented in alphabetical order according to the first name of the contributing author. The contributing author’s initials are noted at the end of each of their card interpretations, FB for Fortune Buchholtz, SV for Stella Waldvogel, and SZ for Susanne Zitzl. The guidebook also includes commentary by Ciro Marchetti for 13 cards, including 2 out of the 3 additional cards he added to the Fin de Siecle, which are entitled Poverty (Card No. 37), Toil & Labor (Card No. 38), and Community (Card No. 39). The card interpretations are very thorough and provide you with what you need to know in order to make good use of this Kipper deck. The guidebook concludes with two spreads: Stella Waldvogel’s Triple Pyramid Spread and Susanne Zitzl’s SOS Spread. It is unfortunate that the guidebook does not contain examples or a discussion of Kipper reading card syntax. It differs slightly from Lenormand, but do pay close attention to Buccholtz and Waldvogel’s brief comments about reading syntax on pages 17 and 20, respectively. I include resources at the end of my review should you wish to learn more specific information about this intriguing system of divination. Ciro Marchetti concludes the guidebook with a brief discussion of how he animated the card images. You can view animations of the cards by downloading Aurasama, a free app for smartphones and tablets that will animate the cards.
NOTE: Ciro Marchetti first published the Fin de Siecle Kipper himself. The self-published edition varies from the mass-market US Games, Incorporated edition in a number of respects. Firstly, the self-published edition was not housed in a box, but in a lovely handmade satin drawstring bag made by Ciro’s wife, Maria. The bag is lined in silver, the drawstring is also silver. My copy has a single black pony bead on each end of the silver drawstring to hold the knot in place. The front of the bag has a silkscreen image of The House card with the main elements from the Journey and Change cards. The deck title appears within a horizontal banner parallel and running along the drawstring. The reverse side of the bag has a silk screened image of the figures from the Main Female and Main Male cards superimposed over a background of the Pathway card. Ciro Marchetti’s logo appears in a banner parallel to the drawstring area.
The cards of the self-published edition have a matte finish. Edges are not gilded. They vary in size from the US Games, Incorporated mass-market edition only in being a hair wider. They are the same length, 4 1/8″. Card stock is flexible that contributes to the ease of shuffling. The only difference in image between the self-published edition (below, on the left) and the US Games Systems, Incorporated edition (below, on the right) is that the image of the mass-market edition appear to be ever so slightly brighter when examined closely. Ciro Marchetti had the option of having the card backs personalized for those who purchased the self-published edition, which was a lovely touch.
Additional Resources to learn the Kipper System
Frances Buchholder has her own YouTube channel called “Fortune’s Fool” and she has devoted an entire section to Ciro Marchetti’s Fin de Siecle Kipper here.
There is also a Kipper 101 course taught periodically by The Card Geek, otherwise known as Toni Puhle. She offers courses through her World Lenormand Association; and yes, you can also sign up to learn how to read Lenormand cards there as well.
~ Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.
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I purchased the self-published edition direct from the author as soon as it became available. I recently received a copy from the publisher to consider for review. I only review those decks I feel make a valuable contribution and that I feel my followers will also enjoy.