Patreon-Bibliography of Books about Tasseomancy

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From the Land of Tea

In this installment of "From the Land of Tea," we take a look at a web page that was funded by my Patreon supporters, who had access to it one full year before the public.

  • Patreon Release Date: June 14th, 2022.
  • Public Release Date: June 14th, 2023.

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Tea-Leaf Reading Bibliography!!

All of the material you have access to here -- the fabulous tea cups, the instructive booklets, the nostalgic postcards, the boldly graphic matchbook covers, and all of the historical information researched and shared from the mind of the woman who is making it all happen -- can easily fit into one 8 x 10 foot room in an old Victorian farmhouse, but you would never see it without the investment of the time it takes to produce such a site and the caloric input such a site requires in the form of food for the writer, graphic designer, and database manager, as well as the US currency needed to pay for the computers, software applications, scanners, electricity, and internet connectivity that bring it out of that little room and into the world. So, as you can see, this site is the darling of many, and it is growing at a rapid rate ... but although it is "free," there also is a cost. Your financial support underwrites this cost.

Each new web page or sample pdf is circulated to Patrons as an unpublished galley proof or advance copy. After one year access for Patrons, each web page will be released to the public, while book pages will be available to the public as printed books, and copies will be sent to Patrons who subscribe at the upper two tiers.

Patrons have access to a Private Patreon sub-forum within the Lucky Mojo Forum, and will be accorded special Red Star Avatar badges at the Forum.




"Fortune Telling With Tea Leaves" by Sophia Buckland
"Tea Cup Fortune-Telling" by Yvonne V. Charlot
"Creative Divination: Read Tea Leaves and Develop Your Personal Code" by Tabitha Dial
"Tea Leaf Reading for Beginners" by Caroline Dow
"Fortune and Fame in Tea Cup Reading" by Em-Ja-Dee (Michael J. Duff); this copy is surprinted for Finkle's Tavern of Summitville, New York, Loren Finkle, proprietor
"Tea Leaf Reading" by Dennis Fairchild
Fortune Telling by Tea Leaves" by Sasha Fenton, 1988
"Tea Cup Reading" by Sasha Fenton, 2002
"Tea Leaf Reading" by William Hewitt, 1st edition
"Tea Leaf Reading" by William Hewitt, 2nd edition
"Tea Leaf Reading" by William Hewitt, 3rd edition
"Tea Cup Reading: How to Tell Fortunes by Tea Leaves" by A Highland Seer
"Reading Tea Leaves" by A Highland Seer,with a new introduction by James Norwood Pratt
"Telling Fortunes by Tea Leaves" by Cicely Kent
"Tea Cup Tales" by Margaret Lange McWhorter, 1984
"Tea Cup Tales" by Margaret Lange McWhorter, 1998
"Tea Cup and Card Fortune Telling" by Mercury, 1937
(2) "The Art of Tea Cup Fortune Telling" by Minetta, Foulsham, 160 pages
(3) "Tea-Cup Fortune Telling" by Minetta, David McKay, c. 1950, 96 pages
(5)"Tea-Cup Fortune Telling" by Minetta, Arco, 1953, 96 pages
(6)"Tea-Cup Fortune Telling at a Glance" by Minetta, I, & M. Ottenheimer, 1958, 96 pages
(7) "Tea-Cup Fortune Telling: The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained" by Minetta, Foulsham, circa 1960, 72 pages
(8) "Tea-Cup Fortune Telling: The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained" by Minetta, Foulsham, 72 pages, circa 1965
(9) "Tea-Cup Fortune Telling: The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained" by Minetta, 72 pages, circa 1970
(10) "Tea-Cup Fortune Telling: The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained" by Minetta, Foulsham, 1972
(1) "Teacup Fortune Telling" by Minetta, Foulsham, 1992
"The Muriel Method of Tea-Leaf Reading" by Muriel
"Learn How to Tell Tea Cup Fortunes" by S.E.M. Putnam
"Simply Tea Leaf Reading" by Jacqueline Towers
"Tea Leaf Reading" by Jacqueline Towers
"Tucker's Tea Cup Reader" by Frederick Charles Tucker
"The Stranger in the Cup: How to Read Your Luck and Fate in the Tea Leaves" by Gregory Lee White and catherine yronwode
"Reading the Leaves by Sandra Mariah Wright and Leanne Marrama
"The Cup of Knowledge: A Key to the Mysteries of Divination" by Willis Mac Nichol (William Nicholson and Sydney MacNamara)
"The Cup of Knowledge: The Tea of Good Fortune — Lipton's," the booklet accompanying the Alfred Meakin Royal Marigold Cup of Knowledge, front cover.
"Cup Reading" by the Salada Tea Company of Boston, in its "Pirate Ship" variant.
"Cup Reading" by the Salada Tea Company of Boston, in its "Four women" variant.
In the 1930s the Ming-Cha Company issued a tiny booklet of instructions in tea leaf reading to accompany a special brand of loose-leaf tea called Tell Your Fortune Tea
Your Future in the Tea Cup" by Princess Romana, published by Thomas J. Lipton, Inc., circa 1930.

Contents

So Many Tea Leaf Reading Books!

As far as we know, written documentation of the tradition of reading tea cups began in the late 19th century with an American named John W. Hanley, an inventor who created games for telling fortunes at parties, most of which were based in astrology. In 1899 he released the Fortuna Fortune Telling Tea Cup, which combined astrology with tea reading. This came with a book that revealed how to toss a cup, and listed about 50 signs found in the leaves. Soon after, a number of marked astrology cups and saucers were released, the 1904 Nelros Cup of Fortune, designed by Neville Ross, being the best-known. It too came with an instruction booklet.

The great bulk of good, solid tea reading books and booklets were published during the roughly 30-year period of 1917 - 1949 that encompassed the First and Second World Wars and also corresponded to the era of Female Suffrage, Prohibition, the Great Depression, and the Tea Room Craze. After that there was a lull in the issuance of new tasseomancy books for the next 40 years. During this slack period, books by the major early authors -- Kent, A Highland Seer, and Minetta -- were kept in print, however, and they informed several generations of readers. In 1989, the publishing of a new wave of tasseomancy books began, and it has been ongoing for more than 30 years as i write this. Some of the newer books are excellent contributions to the art, but many of them are puffed-up vacancies of driveling blather. (The same is true of modern dowsing books, but that's another rant for another bibliography.)

If collecting books is your passion, you may enjoy this Bibliography of Books about Tasseomancy as a sort of buyer's guide -- but be aware that it will never be complete. There are two reasons for this -- first, new books are issued regularly, as with any topic; second, tea leaf reading books, more than any class of metaphysical books except those on palmistry, are regularly shopped from publisher to publisher during the life -- and after the death -- of their authors, receiving new titles, new covers, and, in some cases, new typesetting, new illustrations, or new editorial abridgements.

Sometimes the chaos of reconfiguration is the work of one demented publisher. The classic case in point of this latter phenomenon is the British publisher W. Foulsham's barbarous butchery of Minetta's 1920 classic "Tea-Cup Fortune Telling: The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained," with its Introduction by the highly regarded astrologer Sephariel, a pseudonym of Walter Gorn Olds. The story of how this respected book was chopped, garbled, and repaginated until it became a joke in the metaphysical world is one of the sadder tales in bibliographic byways because the crippling amputations and disturbingly ugly covers were inflicted upon a one-time best-seller by its own publisher after the death of the pseudonymous author. I cannot say enough bad words about W. Foulsham in this regard. The full and horrible story is outlined below. It's fucking tragic, is what it is.

I look forward to suggestions and contributions of information from our readers. If a book you know and like is not included on this page, please send the title and author's name, a scan of the cover (a link to such a scan), the page-count, biding style, publisher's name, and any descriptive review you would like us to include.

Tasseomancy Instruction Books and Bookets

Buckland, Sophia. Fortune Telling with Tea Leaves: a Beginner's Guide. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016

  • An additional cover line reads: "How to tell fortunes and perform divinations by reading tea leaves."
  • 130 pages, 20 illustrations, paperback.
  • CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform is not actually a publishing company; it is a print-on-demand service operated by Amazon. As a result, CreateSpace books may be very spottily distributed, and their value to readers is unmediated by the editorial and graphic design process.
  • This book won no points with me by harping on a comparison between tea leaf reading and tarot cards. Two samples from the author's listing at Amazon: "The ancient practice of divining fortunes with tea is one which is frequently overlooked by those having heard of Tarot as a method richest in authenticity" and "While it is tempting to default to Tarot, with its rich and colorful imagery, there needn’t be the complexity when a simpler, more accessible and less arcane means of fortune telling does the task excellently."
  • The author makes special pleading for tea reading versus capital-T-tarot by explaining that "The fact you can accomplish the task inexpensively with everyday household items is a further advantage."
  • Ugh. Not purchased. Send me a used copy if you find one, but i am not paying for this.

Charlot, Yvonne B., Tea-Cup Fortune Telling. Universal Publications Limited, 1935; rev. ed. 1937.

  • Here is a well-constructed book with excellent illustrations of sample study cups. Given its publication date, i consider it one of the best source-books on 20th century tasseomancy.
  • Universal Publications Limited, 3 Fann Street, Aldersgate, London E.C.1 published a line of 45 books on divination and fortune telling of various sorts; social help such as letter writing, dancing, and household hints; rules and strategies for popular games and sports; and other topics of general interest. The books were published in uniform editions, all priced at 1s 3p each.
  • Two other titles that Yvonne. B. Charlot wrote for Universal Publications Limited were "Conundrums of All Kinds" and "The Meaning of Christian Names."
  • Other authors who wrote for the company on metaphysical topics were the astrologer Zodiastar and the dream interpreter Professor Nicholas.
  • Under the name U.P.L. the company also produced an extensive line of party amusements and card games of the sort that require specially illustrated decks.

Dial, Tabitha. "Creative Divination: Read Tea Leaves and Develop Your Personal Code. ‎ CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018.

  • For more on Amazon's CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, see the entry on Sophia Buckland.
  • Here we have "creative" tea leaf reading. See Sandra Wright for a book on "intuitive" tea leaf reading. I have not purchased this book. The title was a turn-off to me, as was the cover, in which the tea leaves have been replaced by strange little green blips that resemble a microscopic view of clustered lethal bacteria.
  • The sub-title, which seems far off-topic for tea leaf reading deserves some comment: The idea of learning to "develop your personal code" is usually found among dowsers. It is a modern, backward term of art that the American Society of Dowsers has used to replace the older term "train your pendulum." In training a pendulum, you teach it to respond to your perception of yes, no, or maybe by means of linear or circular motions. Calling this "your personal code" became common in the ASD dowsing community during the 1990s.
  • I have never heard the term "develop your personal code" applied to tea leaf reading, and it makes little sense to me, because training a pendulum consists of linking a few simple movements between your mind, your hand, and your eye. It is not equivalent to observing an open-ended thematic apperception test in a tea cup.
  • As i interpret it, "creative" tea leaf reading in which you "develop your personal code" sounds like, "make up your own meanings for how you feel about what you see and write them down on the workbook pages to create a completely solipsistic system of tea leaf reading that will not relate to human culture or historical lore in any way." Just a guess. As if that navel-gazing were not enough, the inclusion of fill-in-the-blank "workbook pages" additionally makes this a paper-wasting exercise in navel-gazing.
  • There are 79 ritualized methods for you to read the tea leaves in this book. None of them have to do with tea leaf reading as we know it.
  • Bizarre quote from the book: "You don't have to travel back to the Summer of Love to feel a sense of tranquility and understanding." Okay.
  • It gets weirder. In one of the ritualized readings you are to model your tea leaf reading on the Serenity Prayer. The bottom of the cup is "What serenity has -- or has not -- looked like to you in the past." The handle is "Your role in serenity." And so it goes, all the way up to the rim, which is "Future gifts from working with your serenity throughout your life." I can't even. I just can't.

Dinan, Katie [Catherine Genevieve Hagen]. Tea Leaves. Avice Dahlin, 1949.

  • A limited edition art book as well as tea leaf reading manual. Each traditional symbol is illustrated and each printed illustration is embellished with watercolour designs by the author-artist. The book gives the impression of having been created by a talented Bohemian artist who made and decorated individual copies for her friends.
  • Rank this among the rarest-of-the-rare ... if you are lucky enough to find a copy.

Dow, Caroline. Tea Leaf Reading For Beginners: Your Fortune in a Tea Cup. 2011

  • This is one of the many titles in Llewellyn's "For Beginners" series. Like all of them, it is adequate, well edited, and inoffensive. The term "For Beginners" is accurate, yet at the same time, the book promises that "in six simple steps, you'll learn to read tea leaves like a pro." Well, at least you'll know six basic steps.
  • One unusual thing about this book, which distinguishes it from others, is that four sample readings are illustrated with photos rather than line-art. This will no doubt appeal to literal-minded visual learners.
  • Official bio: "Caroline Dow (Boulder, CO) holds a PhD in Luso-Brazilian Studies and has taught at Brown, Pittsburgh, and Colorado universities. She has also worked for many years as an intercultural trainer and assessor. Additionally, Caroline has been a practicing herbalist for thirty years. She owns a successful herbal mail-order company and conducts popular workshops all over the country. Caroline's previous books include The Healing Power of Tea."

Em-Ja-Dee [Michael J. Duff]. Fortune and Fame in Tea-Cup Reading. A. Mitchell, 1939.

  • Also marked as "Printer’s Booklet No. 57," this excellent instruction manual was designed as a promotional item to be sold in tea rooms. It is therefore found surprinted with various tea room names on the cover; however, aside from the surprint, the content, design, and paper stock is always the same.
  • 1939, saddle stitched, illustrated stiff paper cover.
  • The symbolism on the cover of this booklet is intentionally cross-cultural. The lettering is pseudo-Chinese -- a hand-drawn variation of a typographic font-family often named after one specific font, Chopsticks -- but the omen-images are overwhelmingly European: a witch, a rose, a fish, a star, a diamond, a dog, a bee, a pine tree, and a chicken.
  • The writer-artist "Em-Ja-Dee" is identified in the booklet itself as Michael J. Duff, and the publisher (and presumed printer) is A. Mitchell, but my cursory research has not produced any more information on these people.
  • I have two copies of this fantastic booklet in my collection. The one shown here is printed for Finkle's Tavern of Summitville, New York, Loren Finkle, proprietor, but the other is blank. It's a good guess that A. Mitchell was located in New York, because in the mid-20th century, the concept of nation-wide branding and distribution was in its infancy.

Fairchild, Dennis. Tea Leaf Reading: A Divination Guide for the Bottom of Your Cup. RP Minis, 2015.

  • RP Minis is a division of Running Press that specializes in tiny, miniature books.
  • Official bio: "Dennis Fairchild is the author of numerous Running Press titles, including Fortune Telling: A New Guide to Palm Reading and Tarot, as well as the Palm Reading and Tarot Miniature Editions."
  • This is a thick and sturdy mini-book, just a little larger than a standard stack of Post-It notes. It is adorably cute and makes a great gift basket stuffer when combined with a package of fancy tea and a beautiful cup and saucer set.
  • The information is accurate, albeit condensed in scope.
  • 144 pages, hardcover, with its own mini dust-jacket.

Fenton, Sasha. Fortune-Telling by Tea Leaves: A Practical Guide to the Ancient Art of Tasseography. Aquarian Press, 1988.

  • Official bio: "Sasha Fenton became a professional astrologer, palmist, and tarot card reader in 1974, but she tailed off her consultancy business when her writing took off. She has written 136 books, mainly on mind, body & spirit subjects. She has total sales of around 7 million copies to her credit, and translations of some titles into twelve languages. Sasha has taught, broadcast and lectured all over the world, and has written for many magazines and newspapers. One of her favourite features was a detailed Chinese Astrology column in Prediction magazine, starting with the January 2012 issue. She has concentrated on making Chinese Astrology accessible to western audiences. She is a past President of the British Astrological and Psychic Society (BAPS), past Chair for the Advisory Panel on Astrological Education, and past member of the Executive Council of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. Sasha and her husband Jan Budkowski created MBS Professionals Ltd, an international accreditation and certification home for Mind, Body & Spirit professionals. They now spend time running Zambezi Publishing Ltd., and in their brief spare time, a spot of fly fishing in the beautiful South West of England is a great way to relax."
  • Fenton's Zambezi publishing company, in conjunction with Sterling Publishing, was the publisher of the first edition of "Tea Leaf Reading" by Jacqueline Towers; see under Towers.
  • I have not seen this edition, but believe it to be identical with the next entry, which would then be a retitled 2nd edition. I await comments from readers.

Fenton, Sasha. Tea Cup Reading: A Quick and Easy Guide to Tasseography. Weiser Books, 2002.

  • This wonderful little guide is a favourite beginner's book on the subject of telling fortunes by tea leaf reading according to traditional Scottish, English, and Irish methods. It also teaches how to read coffee grounds in the Eastern European style.
  • Profusely illustrated with images of tea-leaf and coffee ground symbols, it gives the time-honoured meanings for the images, along with historical overviews of tea and coffee, including their social impact and some of their medical uses.
  • If you need just one contemporary mass-market book on tasseography to get you started reading tea leaves for friends and clients, this may be the one. It is fun, upbeat, informative, and completely accurate with respect to the "old ways" of fortune telling in a teacup.
  • 144 pages, trade paperback.

Hewitt, William W. Tea Leaf Reading. Llewellyn Publications; 1st edition (1989)

  • Cover painting by Victoria Poyser Lisi
  • 256 pages, paperback.
  • William W. Hewitt was born in 1929 and was 60 years old when Lewellyn published this book. He dedicated it "to my wife Dee" and "to the memory of my mother, Dorothy Agnes Hewitt," cementing his male expertise to that of the female members of his family.
  • There are more than 400 entries for tea leaf images, with lengthy descriptions and a solid alphabetical index. Very few of the images are illustrated, but those that are are drawn as tea-leaf clusters, which is helpful to the novice learner. The sheer quantity of images described puts this book in the top ten percent of all tea leaf reading guides.
  • The following description came from the publisher: Learn the ancient art of interpreting the shapes of tea leaves for yourself and others in "Tea Leaf Reading" by William W. Hewitt. "Tea Leaf Reading "is your complete guide to reading and interpreting tea leaves. You don't need any prior knowledge or psychic abilities -- just a teacup, some tea, and the desire to have fun Each step is completely explained so you can be giving tea leaf readings in minutes. You'll learn how to:

- Phrase questions effectively.
- Prepare the tea cup (how much loose tea to use, how to mix water with the leaves, how to infuse the tea leaves with your energy, and how to disperse the leaves around the inside of the cup).
- Analyze the tea leaves for the reading, including numerous examples You will learn what the tea leaf patterns mean by referring to the extensive, illustrated glossary of more than 400 symbols.
- Find out about the different "zones" of the teacup, and how you can determine what's in store for you for the next twelve months.
- You can also use the tea leaves to answer specific questions. Do you see a bride's dress? Expect extensive changes in your life. Is there a firecracker in the cup? That means enjoyable excitement. A roof implies protection for you, your family and your possessions. Skis indicate that you are moving too fast and need to pay greater attention to detail. - - - Discuss the philosophies of tea leaf reading.
Reading tea leaves is nearly as easy as tea drinking -- and even more enjoyable. Pour yourself a cup of tea and find out what the future has in store for you with the help of "Tea Leaf Reading."

  • Llewellyn has a habit of republishing books with variant covers, leaving the contents unchanged. Such is the case with this book. See also the 2nd and 3rd editions.
  • 256 pages, paperback.

Hewitt, William W. Tea Leaf Reading. Llewellyn Publications; 2nd edition (circa 1994)

  • Llewellyn has a habit of republishing books with variant covers, leaving the contents unchanged. Such is the case with this book. See the entry on the 1st edition for more information.
  • 256 pages, paperback.

Hewitt, William W. Tea Leaf Reading. Llewellyn Publications; 3rd edition (October 8, 1999)

  • Llewellyn has a habit of republishing books with variant covers, leaving the contents unchanged. Such is the case with this book. See the entry on the 1st edition for more information.
  • 256 pages, paperback.

Highland Seer, A. Tea Cup Reading: How to Tell Fortunes by Tea Leaves. George Sully. c 1917-1918. [Also an early edition by A. Burt, and many later reprints.].

  • The identity of "A Highland Seer" remains unknown. It is obvious that he was educated about folklore, and was conversant with Scottish methods of reading the leaves.
  • Extract from the publisher's introduction: "From time immemorial, humankind has tried to uncover the meaning of divining the future. While druids followed the stars and Greeks sought counsel from the Oracle at Delphi, the "spae-wives" of the Scottish highlands found the answers to life in the tea-leaf patterns in their cups. Lines of dust meant journeys, swans foretold of love, and snakes warned of disaster. These and other symbols were passed down from generation to generation. This work reproduces the writings of an anonymous Scottish seer who recorded the secrets of the ancient art of reading tea leaves, including an alphabetical list of the various signs and their meanings. It features illustrations of sample cups, and their interpretations show how to weave and balance the symbols together, transforming a cup of tea into the voice of the Fates. The book combines that manuscript with modern writings on the history and philosophy of foretelling the future."
  • 96 pages, hardcover.
  • Many reprints can be found, both in hardcover and paperback, and as the book is out of copyright and in the public domain, it is also available for download in various electronic formats.
  • No tea leaf reader should be without this brief book. It set the scene for every guide to tasseomancy that followed. The only documentation on tea leaf reading that preceded it were instructional sheets supplied with specially marked cups, such as John Hanley's 1899 Fortuna Fortune Telling Tea Cup and the 1904 Nelros Cup of Fortune. It was followed, but not rendered obsolete, by Cicely Kent's magnum opus of 1922.

Highland Seer, A. Reading Tea Leaves, with a new introduction by James Norwood Pratt. Clarkson Potter, 1995.

  • 90 pages, hard boards with pictorial cover.
  • This re-titled and retypeset reprint of "Tea Cup Reading: How to Tell Fortunes by Tea Leaves" by A Highland Seer is a strange one; the new introduction overwhelms the original content, and the printing is to "artsy" for clear readability. The original edition is superior, but this gift-book copy made a big splash in the mid-1990s and re-introduced a lot of people to the magical world of the legendary Highland Seer.

Kent, Cicely, Telling Fortunes by Tea Leaves: How to Read Your Fate in a Tea Cup. Dodd, Mead And Company, 1922 -- and many subsequent printings through 1946.

  • Cicely Kent’s 1922 bombshell, “Telling Fortunes by Tea Leaves: How to Read Your Fate in a Tea Cup,” was, and remains, the most exhaustive book on cup reading symbolism. Every author since Kent has consulted her large dictionary of symbols, and my co-author Gregory Lee White and i are no exception.
  • 144 pages, illustrated hardcover.
  • Shown here is the hardbound book in its original dust-wrapper. Underneath the paper wrapper, the binding is light blue cloth with black stamping for the first few printings, and light green cloth with black stamping for at least one subsequent printing.
  • This book is out of copyright and in the public domain; it can be found for free online in various electronic formats; paper facsimile reprints are also available.
  • Kent is notable for devoting an entire chapter of her book to how to read the Nelros Cup of Fortune, a 1904 astrology and symbol cup by Aynsley which itself if still imitated and copied by other makers to this day. Her book precedes the introduction of the first Cup of Knowledge cartomancy cups by three years or she would likely have included a chapter on that style of cup as well.

McWhorter, Margaret Lange. Tea Cup Tales: Tales of Tea and How to Read the Tea Leaves. Ransom Hill Press, 1984.

  • The June 1, 1984 1st edition of McWhorter's book has a different sub-title, cover, and page-count than the 2nd edition.
  • 42 pages, paperback, with a black-and-white cover.
  • The 1st edition of this small self-published book is very hard to find, but that is not too bad, because it is probably only of value to completists, as the 2nd, enlarged edition is much nicer.

McWhorter, Margaret Lange. Tea Cup Tales: The Art of Reading Tea Leaves. Ransom Hill Press, 1998.

  • The January 1, 1998 2nd edition of McWhorter's book has a different sub-title, cover, and page-count than the 1st edition.
  • 112 pages, paperback, with a colour cover.
  • This is a charming little self-published book. I carried the bright pink 2nd edition in my shop for many years, until it went out of print. Used copies command a fairly high price in the vintage book trade.

Mercury. Tea Cup and Card Fortune Telling. W. Foulsham, n.d. (c. 1937).

  • 90 pages, hhardcover, issued with dustwrapper; dark red cloth binding.
  • Around 1930 the publisher W. Foulsham brought out an odd little double-book — 48 pages on tasseomancy and 48 pages on card reading bound together as “Tea Cup and Card Fortune Telling: How to Tell Your Fortune and That of Your Friends” by the anonymous "Mercury."
  • Despite having been released by the same publisher as Minetta's "Tea-Cup Fortune Telling," this is an entirely different book. As far as i can tell, its reprint history was short at best, which is a shame, because it is not a bad book at all.

Minetta. (1) Tea-Cup Fortune Telling: The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained. W. Foulsham, n.d. (c. 1920).

  • 160 pages, illustrated, hardcover; dark cloth binding; it may have had a dust-wrapper; by copy has none..
  • The 1st and 2nd editions carry an Introduction by Sepharial (William Gorn Olds).
  • There are at least a dozen editions of this book from both British and American publishers, with variant covers, titles, sub-titles, contents, and page-counts.
  • This is an excellent book, if you can get a copy of the original edition. Look for the Introduction by Sepharial and he Author's preface and the 160 pages of content.
  • Each passing revision became worse and worse. The original edition has a red cloth binding. It is out of copyright and in the public domain, but the trouble with buying reprints is that you may get snookered into a reprint of a later and lesser edition. Check out the tale of the diminishing page-counts. Beware.

Subsequent reprints follow in descending page-count order.

Minetta. (2) The Art of Tea Cup Fortune Telling. Foulsham, 1953.

  • 160 pages, hardcover with pictorial dust-wrapper.
  • I am only guessing, but given the date, i would assume that this is one of the last 160-page editions.

Minetta. (3) Tea-Cup Fortune . McKay Company n.d. (c. 1950).

  • 96 pages, illustrated, side-stapled, printed pictorial board cover.
  • Notable for its art deco cover in red, black, and tan with yellow cloth tape on the spine that covers the staples.
  • This American edition carries the Introduction by Sepharial (William Gorn Olds) and the Author's Preface by Minetta.
  • The book has been retypeset. The subtitle ("The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained.") and Minetta's name have both been eliminated from the cover, although they appear on the title page.
  • Dozens and dozens of entries have been eliminated, resulting in a loss of 64 pages!

Minetta. (4) Tea-Cup Fortune Telling: The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained. David McKay Company n.d. (c. 1958).

  • 96 pages, illustrated, hardcover; green cloth with black stamping; it was probably issued with a dust-wrapper but my copy has none.
  • This American edition carries the Introduction by Sepharial (William Gorn Olds) and the Author's Preface by Minetta.
  • The book has been retypeset. Dozens and dozens of entries have been eliminated, resulting in a loss of 64 pages!

Minetta. (5) An Arco Book of Tea-Cup Fortune Telling." Arco, 1953.

  • 96 pages, illustrated, hardcover; brown, black, and white paper wraps with a black line0art illustration od a woman reading a tea cup.
  • Yes, another cheesy 96-page chop-shop edition of Minetta's classic book. What more can i say? Poor Minetta was probably pissed off as hell in the spirit world. I sure would have been.

Minetta. (6) Tea-Cup Fortune Telling At-A-Glance. I. & M. Ottenheimer, 1958.

  • This American edition is retitled and noted on the title pages as "Revised 1958." However, it does carry Sephariel's Introduction and the Author's Preface,and runs the full length of the abridged Mckay edition. Its worst flaw, aside from being butched, is the typesetting on the dust-wrapper.
  • 96 pages, hardcover with a yellow-and-black dust-wrapper. Under the dust wrapper the binding is pale green cloth with black stamping.

Minetta. (7) Tea-Cup Fortune Telling: The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained. W. Foulsham, n.d. (c. 1960).

  • 72 pages, illustrated paperback, tan boards with a full-colour dust-wrapper showing a pair of hands holding a tea cup, and beneath that, a foursome of two women and two men drinking tea.
  • Underneath the pretty wrapper is a tan chipboard cover with the title printed inside a rhomboid placard, from which descends a ribbon and the logo of W. Foulsham.
  • This edition is often sold without the wrapper, under the assumption that the tan rhomboid-and-ribbon design is the original cover, without noting that the dust-wrapper has been lost.
  • This prettily-wrappered falsity clocks in at only 72 pages because the Introduction and Author's Preface were deleted, and so was a lot more of the text. 24 more pages out the window and a total loss of 88 pages, or more than half the contents, since the 1st edition. And we're not done yet.

Minetta. (8) Tea-Cup Fortune Telling: The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained. W. Foulsham, n.d. (c. 1960).

  • 72 pages, illustrated paperback, red and yellow.
  • The contents and page count duplicate the pretty 72-page edition above. The only difference is the shocking cover.
  • This horrific red and yellow paperback edition is a warning of worse things to come.

Minetta. (9) Tea-Cup Fortune Telling: The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained. W. Foulsham, n.d. (c. 1960).

  • 72 pages, illustrated paperback, green and yellow.
  • The contents and page count duplicate the pretty 72-page edition above. The only difference is the unpleasant cover.
  • Avoid this one like the plague. I may damage your eyeballs.

Minetta. (10) Tea-Cup Fortune Telling: The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained. W. Foulsham, 1972.

  • 64 pages, illustrated paperback, cyand and red.
  • The book is now marked on the cover and internally as a part of the "Foulsham's New Popular Handbooks" series.
  • Oh, you thought that the 72-page edition of Minetta was bad, did you? Well, Foulsham's red and cyan paperback edition has that beat, having lost 96 pages from the original, 32 pages from the revised edition, and 8 pages from the previous edition! The art has been redrawn. The type has been reset. More entries have been eliminated.
  • For completeists and self-torturing biblio-obsessives only. You have been warned.
  • I can't believe that my love of creating bibliographies led me to purchase this, just so that i could catalogue it. Don't make the same mistake. You don't need the sorrow.

Minetta. (11) Tea-Cup Fortune Telling: The Signs Illustrated and Simply Explained. W. Foulsham, 1992.

  • 64 pages, illustrated paperback.
  • The book is now given a photographic cover and marked as a part of the "Esoteric Know How" series.
  • Minetta's name no longer appears on the cover.
  • The typetting and internal art is the same as the above cyan and red edition and is virtually useless for teaching tea leaf reading, but at least it will not blind you.

Muriel. The Muriel Method of Tea-Leaf Reading. Muriel Publishing Co., 1938.

  • Muriel's true identity remains a mystery, but her booklet is a unique and valuable window into the scantly-documented world of psychic readers who presented divination at tea rooms during the 20th century. Her text provides meanings for basic tea leaf symbols, but it also contains information about working as a tasseomancer in Detroit, Michigan in 1938, with specific instructions on how to present oneself, where to position oneself in the tea room, and how much money to expect from professional tea reading (enough to augment the family income, but not enough to support the family).
  • The title-page for this booklet, and a little more about the legal status of tea room readers in Detroit during the 1930d, can be found on the page about Having Your Fortune Told At a Tea Room.

Putnam, S. E. M. Learn How to Tell Tea Cup Fortunes. San Fernando Valley Press, c 1938.

  • This is an excellent manual that goes far beyond merely listing tea leaf symbols and their meanings; it provides valuable folklore about the domestic rituals and practices of tea cup tossing as the author had learned it. Gregory Lee White and i quoted a couple of important points from Putnam, with credit to the author, in "The Stranger in the Cup."
  • This is a very rare item, printed for the author by his local newspaper, the San Fernando Valley Press, and distributed in California during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Towers, Jacqueline. Simply Tea Leaf Reading. Sterling/Zambezi, 2008.

  • Jacqueline Towers produced this book for Sasha Fenton's Zambezi Publishing (see the entry on Fenton above), and it was also part of Sterling's "Simply Series" of light-weight metaphysical instruction books for newbies. Many of these Sterling books were designed for gift-giving.
  • Jaqueline Towers also wrote "Simply Dreams" for the "Simply Series." It was repackaged as "The Little Book of Dream Symbols" for Sterling, as part of the company's "Little Book" line of small, square volumes.

Towers, Jacqueline. Tea Leaf Reading: Discover Your Fortune in the Bottom of a Cup. Weiser, 2018.

  • This is a retitled reprint of the same author's "Simply Tea Leaf Reading," with a new publisher. The "Simply" title had to be changed because the "Simply Series" was a trademark of Sterling Publishing. See the above entry.

Tucker, Frederick Charles. Tucker’s Tea-Cup Reader. Tucker’s Publications, c 1938.

  • An intriguing book from Australia. Hard to find.

White, Gregory Lee and Catherine Yronwode. The Stranger in the Cup: How to Read Your Luck and Fate in the Tea Leaves. Lucky Mojo Curio Co., 2022.

  • 96 pages, heavily illustrated, paperback.
  • The cover of this book was executed by Grey Townsend, inspired by the cover of "The Cup of Knowledge: A Key to the Mysteries of Divination" by Willis Mac Nichol (William Nicholson and Sydney MacNamara) from 1925.
  • The list of 800 basic images draws, with credit, upon the work of Cicely Kent and other authors of the past, and is the largest such grouping of traditional symbolism ever assembled in one book.
  • A history of the women-led Tea Room Movement of the early 20th century is included, with reference to how free tea leaf readings were performed in such eateries.
  • Reading methods, cup layout, timing of events, and cultural customs surrounding the reading, such as the "wish sign" and the "love drop," are fully explained.
  • 40 study-cups are included for learners to use as examples of how readings are contructed. These are in some cases adapted from older books, but each cup has been redrawn by White and reinterpreted by Yronwode.

Wright, Sandra Mariah and Leanne Marrama. Reading the Leaves: An Intuitive Guide to the Ancient Art and Modern Magic of Tea Leaf Divination. TarcherPerigee, 2020.

  • From reader reviews we are meant to understand that these authors are hip, hep, up-to-date, and au courrant. They are not invoking the cup lore of the Elder Grandmothers, that's for sure: "An approachable, savvy guide." "A smart, fun dive into a path of intuitive discovery." "Smart, modern, practical and witty!." "Tasseomancy for our time."
  • "Sandra Mariah Wright owns an events business (Spirit Beacon Psychic Fair & Mystical Marketplace), as well as a jewelry and occult supply company (Gallows Hill Witchery), and manages the largest annual psychic fair in the country (the Salem Psychic Fair & Witches' Market). She has appeared on the Travel Channel and Showtime, and has been featured on Dish Network's Magnificent Obsessions."
  • "Leanne Marrama is a full-time professional psychic. She teaches classes, presents at festivals around the country, and hosts weekly séances in Salem. Among her many media appearances, she has been featured on TLC's What Not to Wear, Ghost Chronicles, and Beyond Belief with George Noory."
  • Intuitive tea leaf reading sounds like finger-painting to me. I feel the same way about "intuitive" tarot, "intuitive" I Ching, "intuitive numerology, "intuitive astrology," and "intuitive" palmistry. Your mileage may vary.

Tasseomancy Booklets Issued by Pottery Companies

Anton, John Tea Leaf Reading Booklet, Taltos Cup of Fortune, 1975

  • 24 pg. John Anton Taltos Booklet.

Aynsley. The Cup of Knowledge. Aynsley China, 1924.

  • Can be used with any Aynsley, Alfred Meakin, J & G Meakin, Booth's, Grosvenor Jackson & Gosling, or Fairylite Cup of Knowledge.
  • 6 pg. tri-fold with the line drawing of a dragon on the front.

Barbreggo. The Romany Cup of Fortune. Creative Art Products, 1935.

Hanley, John W. The Fortune Telling Tea Cup: Prophetic, Interesting, Amusing, and Instructive. Fortuna Tea Cup Co., 1899.

  • The first book on tasseomancy that did not accompany a tea set was “Tea Cup Reading: How to Tell Fortunes by Tea Leaves” by “A Highland Seer,” published circa 1917-1918. The pseudonymous author was literate and well-versed in the history of the spae-wives of Scotland, the prophetesses who read the tea leaves.

Mac Nicol, Willis [William Nicholson and Sydney MacNamara]. The Cup of Knowledge: A Key to the Mysteries of Divination. n.p, , n.d. [1924 and 1925, for the British Empire Exhibition.

  • Two editions exist: “tall” and “square.” The former is the earlier; the latter soon replaced it as the square shape better fits the packaging for a cup and saucer.]
  • In 1924 The Cup of Knowledge by William Nicholson and Samuel MacNarama (“Willis Mac Nichol”) was a huge hit. The first cartomancy cup, it came with a fanciful book of history and full instructions for use.
  • Both the tall edition and the square edition have the same contents; the change was made by clipping off some blank paper at top and bottom and slightly rearranging the art.
  • The cover of this famous book became the inspiration for the cover of "The Stranger in the Cup," which i co-wrote with Gregory Lee White in 2020. See the entry below under White.

Paragon. Signs and Omens Cup and Saucer. Paragon Fine China, n.d. (c. 1930).

Red Rose Tea

  • Tea Leaf Reading Booklet, Cup of Fortune, Red Rose Tea, c1965
  • 10 pg. Booklet
  • Issued by a tea company, this booklet was also issued in conjunction with the sale of a set of three fortune telling tea cups from the Taylor and Kent pottery company, and so it is double-listed and appears in both categories.

Royal Kendall

  • Tea Leaf Reading Booklet, Taltos Cup of Fortune, 1980
  • 24 pg. Booklet.

Vernon, Lillian

  • Tea Leaf Reading Booklet, Lillian Vernon Fortune Teller Cup, 1985
  • Original folded sheet for Lillian Vernon 's ICG Cup of Fortune.

Wimsatt, Genevieve. Chinese Fortune-Telling Teacup. Wimsatt, 1931.

Tasseomancy Booklets issued by Tea Companies

Benevente, Marcia. Tea Fortunes! Stephen Leeman Products, 1931 and 1946

  • Two editions exist with variant covers and advertisements; the contents otherwise are identical.

Bushnell’s Blue Label. How to Read Tea Cups. Bushell’s Ltd, c.1934-1946.

  • At least two editions with identical contents and different photo-covers.]

Lipton. The Cup of Knowledge — Lipton’s. Thomas J. Lipton, Ltd., 1938.

  • Lipton's Tea Cup of Knowledge, Alfred Meakin Royal Marigold Cup.
  • 16 pg. Booklet

Princess Romana. Your Fortune in the Tea Cup. Thomas J. Lipton, Inc., 1934.

Red Rose Tea

  • Tea Leaf Reading Booklet, Cup of Fortune, Red Rose Tea, c1965
  • 10 pg. Booklet
  • Issued by a tea company, this booklet was also issued in conjunction with the sale of a set of three fortune telling tea cups from the Taylor and Kent pottery company, and so it is double-listed and appears in both categories.

Salada. Cup Reading. Salada Tea, c 1934 - 1940 with variant covers and contents.

Books And Articles About the Tea Room Movement

Brandimarte, Cynthia A., To Make the Whole World Homelike: Gender Space and America’s Tea Room Movement, Winterthur Portfolio 30, No. 1, Spring 1995.

Coleman, Mildred H., Recovering Frances Virginia and the Frances Virginia Tea Room: Transition Era Activism at the Intersections of Womanism, Feminism, and Home Economics, 1920-1962. Thesis, Georgia State University, 2012.

Whitaker, Jan. Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn: A Social History of the Tea Room Craze in America. St. Martin’s Press, 2015.


Thanks to my husband nagasiva yronwode for helping with scans and cleanup. I couldn't have done it without you, dear.


catherine yronwode
curator, historian, and docent
The Mystic Tea Room

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