The Mainzer Losbuch


If you missed the Kickstarter campaign for the Mainzer Losbuch, you can still order it here. All orders from this page come with a PDF copy of the Mainzer Losbuch.

If you need a set of German suited playing cards to use with the book you can purchase some at

Please note: This item is made to order and the leather used to bind it will depend what is in stock. You will be contacted after purchase to select from our current stocks of leather which can be seen at

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What is the Mainzer Losbuch?
The Mainzer Losbuch is considered to be one of the earliest examples of cartomancy, which is the practice of using playing cards for divination purposes. Prior to the publication of the Mainzer Losbuch, playing cards were primarily used for gaming and gambling.

Lady Eleanor discovers her fortune

The Mainzer Losbuch was published in Germany in the 16th century and contains 48 images of playing cards, each with a unique fortune or meaning assigned to it. The fortunes are written in poetic form and are intended to provide insights into the lives of those seeking guidance.

The book’s title, “Mainzer Losbuch,” translates to “Mainz Lotbook” or “Mainz Book of Lots” with “lots” referring to divination through the casting of lots or the drawing of cards. The book was published in Mainz, Germany in the first half of the 16th century.

The Mainzer Losbuch is considered to be an important historical document because it represents the beginnings of cartomancy and the use of playing cards for divination purposes. Its influence can still be seen today in modern tarot card readings and other forms of divination that use playing cards.


Never Before in the English language
Until now, the Mainzer Losbuch has never been fully translated into English. This makes the translation we are offering through this campaign a valuable and important addition to the world of cartomancy and playing cards. By providing an accurate and accessible English translation of the Mainzer Losbuch, we hope to make this significant historical document more widely available to those interested in the history and practice of divination.

The availability of an English translation of the Mainzer Losbuch is not only significant for those interested in divination but also for scholars and researchers studying the history of cartomancy and early modern European culture. With this translation, scholars and researchers will have access to a primary source document in English, which may help to provide new insights and perspectives on the history of cartomancy and the role of playing cards in early modern European society.

In addition, the translation of the Mainzer Losbuch can provide a better understanding of the cultural and social context in which the practice of cartomancy emerged, as well as the religious and philosophical beliefs that shaped its development. This can shed light on a little-known aspect of early modern European culture and contribute to our understanding of the broader historical and cultural context in which it emerged.

By purchasing this book, you can contribute to the preservation and dissemination of this important historical document and help make it accessible to a wider audience, including scholars and researchers.

Hand bound books
The books will be hand bound in leather using parchment paper, which is a time-honored and traditional method of bookbinding that has been used for centuries. Hand binding offers a sense of authenticity and tradition that complements the historic value of the Mainzer Losbuch. The 16th century was a time when books were painstakingly crafted by hand, and using a similar process for this project is a way to pay homage to that era.

This historic tome is laid out in the traditional tête-bêche style, meaning that it showcases both the original medieval German and the English translation in a way that is truly special. When you open the book in one direction, you will find the original text in all its medieval glory, while flipping it over will reveal the English translation, making it an easy and convenient read. This gives the book a total page count of 28 pages plus two blank pages at each end.


The binding process
Printing and Folding: The book’s pages are printed and folded into individual folios, which are then gathered into sections.

Sewing: Cotton tapes are then sewn onto the spine of each section using a traditional binding stitch, creating the backbone of the book.

Covering: Greyboard is cut to size and wrapped in high-quality leather, creating a durable and attractive cover for the book.

Gluing: The tapes that were previously sewn onto the text block are then glued onto the inside of the cover, creating a strong connection between the cover and the text block.

Endpapers: Plain parchment endpapers are then carefully glued onto the inside of the cover, covering the tapes and creating a smooth surface for the book’s interior.

Throughout this entire process, we take great care to ensure that every detail is executed with precision and care, resulting in a finished product that is as beautiful as it is functional. We believe that this level of craftsmanship is essential to creating a book that is both a joy to read and a work of art in its own right.

The original book is in a blackletter script which is very hard for the modern reader to read. I have opted to use EB Garamond as a substitute font for the English translation section of the book because it is still from the 16th Century but is very easy to read, whilst the section containing the original medieval German text has been reproduced in the original font. The Garamond typeface is widely acknowledged as the quintessential example of French Renaissance style from the 16th century and is considered one of the most important typography fonts globally. Its graceful shapes and exceptional legibility make it easily identifiable. EB Garamond is a revival of this style and draws heavily from the lettering styles discovered in an Egenolff-Berner specimen in 1592, which is why it bears that name.

Future Plans
To enable further study of the Mainzer Losbuch by the academic community I plan to put the text of my translation into the public domain on 1st August 2024. This will include both a literal translation and the version being printed in the books which keeps the rhyming structure of the original. I feel that this is fair to purchasers, since they get up to a year of being the first people ever to read an english copy of the book, but it also enables future scholars of history to read the book without having to learn a new language in order to do so.

Current Students of History
Ensuring access to knowledge and education is of utmost importance, which is why I am committed to making the Mainzer Losbuch translation available to students of history who may not be able to afford it. If you are a current student at a recognised college or university and require access to the PDF, please feel free to reach out to me. I will require verification of your student status through your university or college email address, but I am more than happy to provide you with the translation for free. In the first instance please contact me by email or on social media. Let’s work together to make history more accessible to all.