The delightfully macabre skeleton featured on our exclusive La Mort (or Death) shaped magnet is from an 18th century deck of a hand-colored French tarot cards in the collection of the New-York Historical Society and featured in the exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic.
Unlike the image it seems to depict, the card of Death simply signifies a change or transformation. Cartomancy is a form of divination that uses cards to predict the future. Reading card decks for divination can be traced at least as far back as the 15th Century. Although originally used for card games, tarot cards for fortune telling became popular in Europe and North America during the eighteenth century. The modern tarot deck is comprised of 78 cards divided into Minor and Major groups or arcanas. Each card has a different meaning and arranged in spreads from 3 to 21 cards, they tell the story of a person’s life and future. Fifteen cards arranged in an upside down triangle create what is known as a Witch's Spread.
Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the New-York Historical Society is a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the publication of J. K. Rowlings Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. The exhibition captures the wizarding traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of the Harry Potter stories through centuries-old treasures including rare books, manuscripts, and magical objects from the collections of the British Library and New-York Historical Societywith original material from Harry Potter publisher Scholastic and J.K. Rowlings own archives.