Tag Archives: Ciro Marchetti

The Impact of Pirated Decks

I’m featuring a little of Ciro Marchetti’s work* in the photo above because there won’t be any more new decks. Ciro has announced publicly that he won’t be doing any more. Shoddy pirated copies of his decks have been turning up for a long time now. It’s everywhere, and he’s tired of the constant effort of fighting it. I think he means it. He’s out. This is what he had to say:

“As I have already indicated, I will probably not design any more decks, and certainly not license the remaining ones I’ve self published. Because I simply can’t deal or compete with the pirates. Who are pretty much just sitting there waiting for whatever my next deck might be so they can get to work and steal it. I’m not even going to discuss anymore the absurd justifications that people have for buying them, for example that it’s the only way they can afford a new deck…and quite frankly I’m becoming increasingly cynical that anyone can be that gullible as to think that a new deck going for about $7 is anything but a rip off. So it is what it is. All I ask now, is please at least don’t add insult to injury by contacting me directly and asking if I can provide the companion book or meanings of the cards, because that “bargain” copy you bought didn’t come with a book…I’m simply not that nice a person…”

I’m sure there will be much more piracy to follow. Virtually everyone who’s been creating popular, well-received decks for awhile has had their work ripped off this way, and it keeps getting worse.

The biggest offenders seem to be the printers in China, Russia, and the Ukraine. This is what Mr. Marchetti has to say on the difference between Russia/Ukraine and Chinese piracy:

“Russia and the Ukraine as a source of piracy was, based on my experience, more one of opportunistic individuals. From what I could tell they were small scale and basically producing their rip offs by scanning a legit deck. Not nice, still theft but the scale wasn’t a great threat. China was also of course dabbling. But I sensed a ramping up of the quantity and sophistication of the operation in China over the last year. It seemed to me that this had gone from individuals such as those in Russia and the Ukraine who I had had some success in shutting down to a more ominous operation. More titles and more savvy. The number of decks being offered on platforms such as Amazon, Etsy, Wish etc, were too many and it was obvious they were connected. Despite the variety of price range and product description, they often used the same product photos. This approach serves a very practical purpose, by scattering their presence via supposedly appearing to be different sellers, they are in fact one and the same, as such they are somewhat invulnerable to any cease and desist letters that might cause one of their many tentacles to be taken down, the others remain actively wriggling away. This to me suggests a more organized infrastructure that knows what its doing, along with access to duplicates of the original files…not simple crude scans. This is far more ominous, and despite my sharing my fears, the publishers seemed to be reluctant to even consider this possibility. They were sure their suppliers were legit. And so they might be, but doesn’t mean that everyone in the art department who has access to those files isn’t a potential source of the duplication…it would be naive to dismiss that possibility. Based on more recent communications with them, I sense the publisher now seem to be acknowledging the seriousness of the threat and are beginning to take more active steps in their attempts to combat it.”

This site is currently offering more than 200 different counterfeited decks and many examples of stolen art on spreadcloths, bags etc.:

A closer look:

If people were free to speak openly about this, the offenders would be known and noted. One deck creator who was badly burned by a printing company in China, and advised by their legal counsel not to send files there, was recently accused of racism simply for quoting that advice.

But it’s not racism – pirating IS a major problem in China. The copyright laws have no teeth over there, and it’s very difficult to sue if shoddy $5 copies of your deck end up on Wish. With few or no consequences for deck pirating, people take advantage. If it were the same here in the US, you’d see people of all races doing the same thing. It has nothing to do with race, it just happens to be taking place in China on a large scale because of issues with the legal system. We have issues with our legal system, too, just different ones. We’re not “better”, we just have different issues.

Warning people not to send files there after being badly burned that way, having files leaked, having to shut down unauthorized sales, and seeing it happen to many others, is not equal to calling on people to “boycott China”, which was another accusation. It would be impossible to “boycott China”, since most of the things people use are made there. Those words were never used. This whole thing is being twisted. People are starting to open their eyes and acknowledge that a lot of what goes on in the world is racist. That’s a good thing. But it’s disingenuous, to put it mildly, to exploit these good intentions in order to gaslight and attempt to destroy a business rival, deflect attention from the real problem, defend one’s own connections with printers, or whatever might be at play behind the scenes.

I’ve gone to the mat with people who disparage the Chinese – and other races – both IRL and online. People who know me know that I do this. But if one is not familiar with every printing office in China, which factories are affiliated with or contracted by them, and the full history of all of these, then it’s a huge risk to send files there due to the difficulty of suing in the event that the files are leaked. NOT because Chinese people live there.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop them from obtaining a deck and scanning it. But those scans would not have the quality and resolution of files from the artist. And when you hire them to print your deck, there’s nothing to stop them from running extra copies without your permission, and selling them. That’s happened, too.

Piracy is rampant, and should not be tolerated. Every printing company that leaks files SHOULD be called out, named and shamed, even if they happen to be in China. All this gaslighting is going to accomplish is to make people hesitant to speak up. It’s toxic.

We have a choice: Call them out, or lose our artists.

*The top photo features the Mini Tarot of Dreams and spreadcloth. This deck and more are available here https://www.ciromarchetti.com/

Fin de Siécle: High Honor

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It has come to my attention that there is some confusion regarding the High Honors card in Ciro Marchetti’s Fin de Siécle. Some people seem to think that it’s a battle scene, and that the meaning is changed from No. 25 Zu hohen Ehren kommen (“Come to high honors”) in the Original Kipperkarten.

It isn’t. It’s exactly the same thing. This is made clear in the companion PDF, but I know that not everyone reads that before doing an unboxing video, and that it’s currently only available in english, which isn’t everyone’s first language. But there are clues on the card itself.

Let’s look a little more closely. The Original shows a humble little house in the foreground, with a castle on a hill in the background, the implication being that someone has risen from humble beginnings and achieved wealth and power. Kind of a Gatsby card, hopefully without the organized crime. Of course it seldom means you’re going to be THAT rich. It’s a card of recognition, promotion, achievement, and career advancement.

Now let’s look at Ciro’s version:

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The soldiers are in spotless dress uniform.
The cannons are lined up perfectly.
Everything is orderly.
This is ceremonial.
This is a gun salute.

Combat is chaos. Soldiers are generally hunkered down firing, or running. They’re dirty and disheveled. There is a hellish atmosphere that isn’t present on the card.

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Now, would you say that the card looks like the photos above? Or does it look more like this Royal Gun Salute at Hyde Park?

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Here is a wikipedia entry on the 21-gun salute in the UK, the setting for this deck (though the wikipedia entry talks about our own times, not late Victorian/Edwardian, it’s an old tradition). You can see that it’s usually done for Royals. The “people in the castle” shown on No. 25 from the Original Kipperkarten. If you feel like looking over the whole article, you’ll see that it’s done in many parts of the world. In most countries, it’s similar. It’s generally reserved for royals, high officials, and heads of state.

A lot of you may have seen a gun salute firsthand. If you’ve ever gone to a veteran’s funeral, you’ve probably seen rifles fired graveside. In the US, this is a three-volley salute. My dad got that for his service in WWII. It’s not 21 shots with cannons, but it’s still an honor.

So this card is showing cannons fired to honor someone of very high rank. A high honor, and still a card of recognition, promotion, achievement, and career advancement.

A castle on a hill, a 21-gun salute. Two ways of saying the same thing.

Do take time to read the PDF if you can. (And not just because I got to contribute. It’s seriously helpful.) And, because I haven’t ended a blog post with a song in awhile, I leave you this 21-gun salute for the rest of us. 😀

Needful Things: Tarot Talismans, Hallowstones, & Fin de Siécle

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(A nod to Mr. Stephen King for the title – tis the season!)
Just checking in with a quick mention of Carrie Paris’s Tarot Talismans, Professional Dreamer’s Hallowstones, and Ciro Marchetti’s Fin de Siécle Kipperkarten deck. I will be blogging more on each separately as time allows, they’re all fabulous.

The Tarot Talismans are pure genius. There is a charm for each Trump, and the rest of the deck has been reduced – you can determine the rest via four suit charms, a ten sided die, and four chess charms that represent the Courts. It’s all explained thoroughly in the free PDF download available here. The tin is beautiful and large enough to hold a few extra things, the charms themselves are in a small organza bag and more portable than all but the tiniest mini deck. You can toss it in a little sling pouch along with your keys, wallet, phone and a little makeup and be ready for anything. 😀

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When it first arrived, I made a game of guessing which charms represented which card, and it was very easy. The meditating Kuan Yin makes a perfect High Priestess/Papess, the ballerina is obviously the dancing lady from The World. And a lot of them are literal, like the Sun, Moon, Star and Tower.
It can be purchased here, along with other Needful Things: http://carrieparis.com/shop/

The Hallowstones are Halloween/Samhain-themed, but I’m going to use mine year round – it’s my favorite holiday, after all! 😉 They’re somewhat like those wonderful Crowstones, but distilled down to twelve symbols that still manage to give a nuanced reading. Robyn is just really, really good at coming up with these things, they always work well. Even the pickiest of us love the Crowstones, and the Hallowstones are equally good, I think. It’s another very, very portable casting oracle. And it comes with a laminated casting sheet:

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The whole thing is very cheery and playful-looking, but it will dish the dirt, too, if you need it to do that. 😉 It’s available here, also with other Needful Things: http://tarotgoodies.webs.com/apps/webstore/

Now to get away from casting for a bit and talk about a deck. Ciro Marchetti has done a Kipper, not “Kipper inspired” or any of that, it just IS a Kipper, as much or moreso than Leidingkarten or Mystiches. It’s called the Fin de Siécle (pronounced “fon duh see-ECK-luh” – audio HERE) Yes, there have been changes – the cards are slightly larger to show the art, and the images have been done in a way that’s less ambiguous in many cases, and easier for beginners to understand. Compare the Original “Getting A Gift” and Ciro’s Gift card:

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It’s a lovely deck, somewhat more shadowy than other Marchetti decks, both in color values and subject matter – it has cards that convey some extremely gritty elements of life. The deck balances the Gilded Age lifestyle with the Dickensian poverty that went along with it and makes for a great spot-on reading deck that’s relevant today.

The stock is good, flexible and lightly coated. It comes with a printed satin bag and a personally autographed card. When you purchase, you’re sent a link to a downloadable Companion PDF that I’m honored to be a part of, along with Susanne Zitzl, Fortune Buchholtz, and Mr. Marchetti. The Companion Document contains cards descriptions, meanings, spreads, and Ciro’s commentary on the creation of the deck and the rationale behind the changes he implemented. At sixty-odd pages, it’s substantial. There’s also instructions for downloading a free app that’s a lot of fun – you point your phone at a card and it becomes animated – sound and movement! – and it shows you the card meaning (or, in the case of the Courthouse, the judge tells you!)

So it’s good value for the money. I’m told that US Games and Königsfurt-Urania Verlag have already licensed the deck, and we’ll be seeing that in a year or so, but I like these less-coated cards with all the bells and whistles. 🙂

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It’s available here (and you can also see a sample of the app in action): http://www.ciromarchetti.com/#!kipper/c1irz

And here is a teaser video that gives you a good idea of the art:

And because some of the cards reminded me of this movie, here’s the incomparable Lon Chaney Sr. and little Jackie Coogan (who grew up to be our beloved Uncle Fester!) in 1922’s Oliver Twist: