RWS collection update

I’ve never been into collecting tarot decks systematically, I’ve just bought those decks that have appealed to me. Most of those published during the last 10-15 years or so I haven’t found interesting enough – and, sad to say, a lot of this has to do with extremely low printing quality (glossy surface I can still manage, but paper-thin cards with a smell from hell: no way). Ebay opened the door for buying old, out-of-print (that’s "vintage") decks, which I now have a few. Price can easily reach astronomical heights, so this can be a bit dangerous business for a tarot addict..

Here follows a list of my current Waite-Smith deck collection:

standard edition published by U. S. Games since 1971.

the so-called original RWS deck, also published by U.S.G. in 1993. Back shows the Tudor Rose pattern which appeared in the first edition of the deck (1909). Many have mistaken this deck to be the "original" deck indeed, but in truth the images come from later edition ("Pam-C"), and are inferior in quality compared to the "real" originals.

Adam Fronteras Tarot, published in 1996 by Carlton Books, U.K. Recolouring probably done under the worst hangover ever, images cut in half.. this is, if you ask me, RWS raped with no dignity left. PCS would probably puke if she ever saw these.

De Luxe edition, published in 1990 by U.S.G. / A.G. Müller. What makes this edition "de luxe" are the full gilt edges on the cards, which give a very nice touch:

for elitist clientele?

Royal Fez published in 1975 by U.S.G. This deck was conceived by the Mensa associated Roland Berrill, artwork done by Michael Hobdell. First editions of the deck stated on the box that "the designs are said to be derived from an 13th Century Moroccan Pack". What’s known for sure is that the designs are derived from the Waite-Smith pack. Backs are a great way to provoke a migrain attack, btw. 

Albano-Waite Tarot, originally titled as New Color DeLuxe Edition, by Frankie Albano, published by his company Tarot Productions in 1967, and later by U.S.G. Another Tarot item produced by his company was a large Ouija board named Tarot Wheel, also designed by Albano. Newer editions by U.S.G. from 1991 onwards suffer from distorted colours, first editions are much brighter and clearer. Several unconfirmed rumours about Albano’s whereabouts and reputation circulated, one being that Frankie Albano for a while worked for U.S.Games but felt uneasy with the situation and then disappeared, never to be heard from again. Another report was that he was taken into custody for drug possession. Albano-Waite deck is sometimes called as "RWS on acid". Where are you, Frankie Albano?

University Books edition, published by University Press from 1959 to 1970’s. The first edition has a heavy two part sliding box covered with mauve linen paper (above), with two cards glued to front and back (the Fool and the High Priestess). Colours appear much stronger in this U. B. deck (which the company calls "sumptuous") compared to Rider’s editions. No readings with reversals with this deck due to the back pattern, also the cards tend to stick together a bit, making it difficult to spread them.  

"Blue Box" edition, published from 1950 to 1970’s mainly by A.G. Müller. Softer colour tone (due to its age?) with a good feel to the material: yes please. My standard choice for readings. 

Also included in this collection are a large size RWS deck, which I use in art therapy practise, and a mini size Tsech language edition of the RWS deck, a souvenir from a friend. Additional information on the different editions from The Story of the Waite-Smith Tarot by K. Frank Jensen (ATS, 2006) and from Holly Voley’s website.  

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3 Responses to RWS collection update

  1. Anonymous says:

    Commemorative set
    Have you seen the Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative deck due to be released soon?
    Lori Hampson

    • admin says:

      Re: Commemorative set
      Hi Lori,
      Many thanks for the link – it was great to discover those articles, I’m glad that the “RWS anniversary” is getting more and more attention. I had just posted info on that U. S. Games new release, the Commemorative Set, in my previous post. At first I thought it was a typo with the “Smith-Waite Centennial Tarot Deck” but apparently it’s not – that really is the name for the new (?) deck. I read from somewhere that the cards might have the roses & lilies back pattern, but from which edition (Pam-A – D) will the deck be made from.. we are living interesting tarot times 😀

  2. Anonymous says:

    Adam Fronteras Carlton Deck
    Hi Just to say re the colouring ofthe Carlton deck (It ws not my idea) but apparantly market research was done for the colours!!

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