pcs-set001I’m so excited. My Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Tarot Set has arrived from U.S. Games. The book of Pixie’s art is delightful—full of colorful images and showing a full range of her work, including a couple of pieces from late in her life. Waite’s Pictorial Key to the Tarot (included) is the same-old book in a new cover but with no pictures (huh?). The postcards are great to have—a very nice bonus.

The deck—well, I’m not too sure how I feel about it. It’s now named the Smith-Waite Tarot—yeah! Pixie’s hand-lettering graces the cards (not like the modern yellow-box version where the names are typeset). The colors are muted and a bit dark (but better than that horrible “Original” version). An attempt was made to make the cards seem old. To me, it just makes them look a little dirty. Although plastic coated and stiff, the card stock seems to be of good quality (slightly thicker than the other decks), and it has a waxy matte finish rather than high gloss. I think it will hold up well to long-term use. The card backs are simple, featuring the Rosicrucian Rose from the Death card and Pixie’s initials against a light dusky blue background.As to the details on the cards: The lines are well defined. We can now see clearly that the coloring of both boots on the 7 of Pentacles is the same. The difference was a later mistake. There is a green liquid spill on the 5 of Cups. There does not appear to be a stream between the feet of the man on the 7 of Wands. The PAX in the stained glass window of the 4 of Swords is unambiguously visible. There is no shadow on the face of the woman in the 9 of Pentacles (as it appears in the old University Books edition). Anyone notice anything else?


The four decks above and below are:—top left: the 2009 Smith-Waite (printed in China); top right: the 1993 Original Rider-Waite (printed in Belgium); lower left: the 1971 Rider & Co. Tarot (printed in Switzerland); lower right: the current U.S. Games Rider-Waite (printed in Italy).


Note the change of face, body width and some cloud shapes in the “Original” version (top right) of the Page of Swords. You can see more images from the new Smith-Waite deck here.

Read this informative discussion between Stuart Kaplan and Malcolm Muckle at the Society of Tarot and Astrology Readers. Find out more about The Art of Pamela Colman Smith.