Fortune Series No. 37 by J. Marks

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Zodiacs, Bats, and Wizards, oh my!

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Fortune Series No. 37 by J. Marks

J. Marks of New York, sometimes also listed as J. J. Marks, published the rather inadequately named "Fortune Series No. 37" in 1910. Attempts to better describe this highly collectible set of 12 postcards have resulted in sellers giving it names like "Halloween Witches Fortune Cards" and "Your Fortune Halloween Witch and Owls." In fact, nothing specifically ties this set of cards to Halloween, since every month in the year is shown, and the person standing over a campfire and holding what appears to be a caduceus looks more like a male wizard than a female witch, according to 20th century stereotypes.

Each card is built around a series of elaborate borders: first, an art nouveau gold frame; second, a landscape with a castle, owls, bats, a raven, and a wizard waving a magical rod over a campfire under the Moon, while before him stands a tail-up black cat, and a strange array of items, including a copper tea kettle, a covered jar of potted meat, a tipped-over wine bottle, a porcelain cup, and a hunk of bread; and third, a parchment frame with sealing wax, a ribbon-banner, and a bow-tied ribbon. Within these frames are displayed the words "Your Fortune if born in [Month]" as well as the monthly gemstone, the zodiac sign and flower on blobs of red seeing wax, a block of type, and a rural landscape.

This heavily embossed and gilded deck of 12 chromolitho postcards links each month of the year with a zodiac sign and zodiacal character analysis, a talismanic birthstone, a symbolic flower, a pair of lucky months, a pair of lucky days of the week, and view of the changing seasons.

As with the Sentiments of the Months by Raphael Tuck and Sons, the Fortune Series No. 37 by J. Marks combines fortune telling, character analysis, gemstone symbolism, sun-sign astrology, and the language of flowers in one convenient set. The publisher's idea was that one could purchase a card and mail it as an inexpensive birthday greeting, and of course, many cards were thus purchased and thus employed. However, it is not uncommon, even more than 100 years after they were issued, to find full sets of these cards that were collected and retained as folkloric teaching tools, a handy set of mnemonic flash cards for those wishing to learn occult symbolism.


Fortune Series No. 37: 01, January, Garnet, Snowdrop, Aquarius

"Your Fortune if born in January"

  • Month: January
  • Zodiac Sign: Aquarius
  • Jewel: Garnet
  • Flower: Snowdrop
  • Lucky Months: April and December
  • Lucky Days: Monday and Tuesday

"Disposition good and loyal in friendship. Persevering. Fortunate in business ventures and will achieve wealth. Have original ideas and love travel. Will marry happily."

Additional Imagery: A mother and child walking up a snowy path toward a snow-covered farmhouse; bare trees; in the distance, a forest.


Fortune Series No. 37: 02, February, Amethyst, Primrose, Pisces

"Your Fortune if born in January"

  • Month: February
  • Zodiac Sign: Pisces
  • Jewel: Amethyst
  • Flower: Primrose
  • Lucky Months: March and August
  • Lucky Days: Tuesday and Saturday

"Strong in friendship but unforgiving to enemies.Will achieve success in anything, if persevering. Self-reliant. Love pleasure. Strong domestic tastes and if married will be happy."

Additional Imagery: A snow-covered cottage and snowy fields,; a peach-orange sunset with golden clouds; there is a wooden fence in the foreground and the spire of a church in the distance.


Fortune Series No. 37: 03, March, Bloodstone, Violet, Aries

"Your Fortune if born in March"

  • Month: March
  • Zodiac Sign: Aries
  • Jewel: Bloodstone
  • Flower: Violet
  • Lucky Months: June and November
  • Lucky Days: Thursday and Saturday

"Great natural abilities, but inclined to be modest. Strong vitality and very sensitive to criticism. Will live long. Good memory and power to influence others. Should marry young."

Additional Imagery: Two small cottages under partly-cloudy skies; a circular pond in the foreground, rimmed with rushes; unexpectedly autumnal trees and shrubbery.


Fortune Series No. 37: 04, April, Diamond, Daisy, Taurus

"Your Fortune if born in April"

  • Month: April
  • Zodiac Sign: Taurus
  • Jewel: Diamond
  • Flower: Daisy
  • Lucky Months: June and December
  • Lucky Days: Monday and Thursday

"Leaders rather than followers in all enterprises and will succeed. Very generous and strong in likes and dislikes. Good health. Should not marry person born in same month, nor should they travel in this month."

Additional Imagery: A creekside bungalow next to a field in which daisies bloom, the creek flows by a weir in the foreground, fully leaved shrubs and trees surround the building.


Fortune Series No. 37: 05, May, Emerald, Hawthorn, Gemini

"Your Fortune if born in May"

  • Month: May
  • Zodiac Sign: Gemini
  • Jewel: Emerald
  • Flower: Hawthorn
  • Lucky Months: January and August
  • Lucky Days: Thursday and Sunday

"Unusually strong intellect and memory. Will be successful in anything undertaken in their lucky months. Should avoid travel in June or December. Fond of pleasure rather than domestic life, and should marry one with similar tastes."

Additional Imagery: A woman with a basket on her arm walking toward the foreground along a flowery path; behind her is a forest of large, old trees.


Fortune Series No. 37: 06, June, Pearl, Honeysuckle, Cancer

"Your Fortune if born in June"

  • Month: June
  • Zodiac Sign: Cancer
  • Jewel: Pearl
  • Birth Flower: Honeysuckle
  • Lucky Months: April and July
  • Lucky Days: Wednesday and Thursday

"Gentle and kind disposition and always loyal in friendships. Will marry young and happily. Very fond of travel and amusements, and will achieve wealth early in lfe. Avoid undertaking anything in November."

Additional Imagery: A rushing river with rocks and rapids in a coniferous forest; hazy mountains in the background; the sky has a pinkish sunrise hue.


Fortune Series No. 37: 07, July, Ruby, Water-Lily, Leo

"Your Fortune if born in July"

  • Month: July
  • Zodiac Sign: Leo
  • Jewel: Ruby
  • Flower: Water-lily
  • Lucky Months: March and November
  • Lucky Days: Wednesday and Saturday

"Highly intelligent and strong powers of leadership. Insist on having their own way, which is usually the best. If married will be happy, and will get all the good things out of life. Strong in likes and dislikes."

Additional Imagery: A red-roofed cottage in a field of wildflowers, tall poplars behind it and in the distance a spired church; a yellow sunset with pinkish clouds.


Fortune Series No. 37: 08, August, Sardonyx, Poppy, Virgo

"Your Fortune if born in August"

  • Month: August
  • Zodiac Sign: Virgo
  • Jewel: Sardonyx
  • Flower: Poppy
  • Lucky Months: May and September
  • Lucky Days: Tuesday and Thursday

"Very affectionate disposition, and must avoid being controlled by their feelings rather than by their judgment. Fond of amusements and will travel a great deal. Will marry young and happily and be successful."

Additional Imagery: A man with a scythe reaps grain, a woman gathers in the sheaves; behind them are ill-defined thatched cottages and towering autumnal trees.


Fortune Series No. 37: 09, September, Sapphire, Morning-Glory, Libra

"Your Fortune if born in September"

  • Month: September
  • Zodiac Sign: Libra
  • Jewel: Sapphire
  • Flower: Morning-Glory
  • Lucky Months: February and June
  • Lucky Days: Wednesday and Sunday

"Very magnetic and have strong influence over others. Bright and cheerful disposition, Will become very wealthy and travel a great deal. Must avoid beginning any enterprise in April"

Additional Imagery: A country home amidst green fields; Tall Lombardy cypress trees in the background; a flower-edged creek in the foreground; blue skies with scattered pink clouds.


Fortune Series No. 37: 10, October, Opal, Hops, Scorpio

"Your Fortune if born in October"

  • Month: October
  • Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
  • Jewel: Opal
  • Flower: Hops
  • Lucky Months: January and April
  • Lucky Days: Monday and Wednesday

"Generous disposition, very ambitious and talented. Fond of amusements and travel, and while have the means to indulge these tastes, Must avoid marrying one whose tastes are not congenial."

Additional Imagery: A soft sunset suffuses the sky; three brown cows stand placidly in an algae-covered pond edged with tall deciduous trees.


Fortune Series No. 37: 11, November, Topaz, Chrysanthemum, Sagittarius

"Your Fortune if born in November"

  • Month: November
  • Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius
  • Jewel: Topaz
  • Flower: Chrysanthemum
  • Lucky Months: May and July
  • Lucky Days: Tuesday and Wednesday

"Great will power and will control others. Will succeed in almost anything they undertake, but must avoid beginning anything in February. Marriage will be happy, as tastes are domestic."

Additional Imagery: A thatched cottage with shrubs at the front and trees to the side and rear; in the foreground dried grasses surround a small pond.


Fortune Series No. 37: 12, December, Turquoise, Holly, Capricorn

"Your Fortune if born in December"

  • Month: December
  • Zodiac Sign: Capricorn
  • Jewel: Turquoise
  • Flower: Holly
  • Lucky Months: July and October
  • Lucky Days: Wednesday and Saturday

"Good disposition, but impulsive in likes and disliked. Must avoid hasty conclusions. Very fond of travel and amusements. Will marry young and happily and be fortunate."

Additional Imagery: A trio of children hold hands in the snow in front of a spired church and bare trees; in the foreground a fenced dock extends over an icy river.

The Publisher

Very little is known about the postcard publisher J. Marks of New York. The company was only in business from 1908 through 1912. Most of the cards were comic cartoon cards, and there was also a line of holiday greetings. Some of them were published under the name J. J. Marks. All i can figure from this is that Marks is a Jewish surname and it is very common for Jews to bear Hebrew-derived first names that begin with the letter J, such as Jacob, Jakov, Joshua, James, Japheth, Jared, Jedediah, Jeremiah, Jeremy, Jesse, Jethro, Joel, John, Jonathan, and so forth.

Late and Early Zodiac

If you read my Birthday and Birthstone Postcards page, you will find there the earliest of the Birthstone character analysis cards i have located, published by the Colortype Co. of Chicago, Illinois, and printed in 1907. That card does not include the signs of the zodiac, but these do, and so here i must introduce the concept i call "early zodiac" and "late zodiac" methods for making symbolic linkages between the months and the signs of the zodiac.

As is common with such cards, the zodiac is "late" -- that is, the zodiac sign given for each month is not the sign in the play when the month begins, but rather the sign that has its first day within the month, usually around the third week of the month. Thus the first month, January, is given as Aquarius, when in fact Aquarius does not begin until the final third of the month of January. To put it another way, although January is the month in which Aquarius does begin, very little of January falls in the sign of Aquarius.

Those who practice astrology, myself included, find "late zodiac" ascriptions to the months annoying, because when January starts, we are in the month of Capricorn. Most astrologers prefer "early zodiac" symbolism, that is, linking the month to the sign in progress when the month begins. There is a practical reason for this -- the first two-thirds of the month take place in the earlier sign.

This J. Mark set of month and zodiac linkages is not the only "late zodiac" postcard or arcade exhibit set, and when all of the known birthstone, zodiac, and character analysis postcard sets are compared in spread-sheet form, it will be obvious why the symbolism between them is inconsistent. We'll get to that as we move along, but for now, just be aware that this too is a "late zodiac" set.

Thanks to my Patrons, who support this work, and to my husband, nagasiva yronwode, for help with scans and social media notifications.

catherine yronwode
curator, historian, and docent
Your Wate and Fate