Many many moons ago, when I was a young whippersnapper, my eldest sister gave me a deck of Tarot cards, specifically the Swiss 1JJ deck. Little did she know it would be the catalyst of a life-long obsession with the Tarot. I still have that deck, in the original box. It traveled around the world with me while I was in the Navy, and I recall reading for friends with it in our rooms in the barracks at various bases. Incredibly it is still in virtually pristine condition. The box itself is just a teensy bit dinged up, but that’s not too bad, all things considered.
My next deck I purchased myself: The venerable Rider-Waite, aka Waite-Smith. It too is still in its original tuck box, although the top flap has left us. But the cards themselves are still like new. Since those days, I have collected both books and decks. Then, as now, I only acquired decks because I loved them. I liked the different themes and artistic takes on the those same 22, or 78 cards. I never gave a thought to anything becoming ‘collectible,’ I just acquired what I liked, or what was given to me. The only urgency I felt to buy something was if I became concerned that a deck I liked was going out of print, and I would be unable to get it if I waited.
Fast forward to today. My collection now stands at fifty-four decks, fifty-five as of yesterday with the arrival of my first truly collectible, limited-edition art deck. I’m so excited about this one, I am now the proud owner of :::drumroll please:::
The Goth Tarot, by Winny. Here’s one of my favorite cards from the deck:
Click the image for a larger-than-life scan. Truly, the scans do not do it justice, the artwork and colors are lovely. This is a Majors-only deck, printed by Adam McClean who publishes a small assortment of art decks out of his shop in Glasgow. The cards are laminated with a glossy laminate, making them durable enough for every day use, and resistant to coffee spills. I won’t go into his whole process here, as he details it nicely on his site if you’re interested. The deck is signed and numbered by the artist, and I have copy #12 of 100. All I can say is, it’s stunning. I can only hope someday Winny will do a full 78-card version of this deck, which I will also have to have.
I’ve also found out recently that several of the decks I own which were readily available for many years are now out of print, and going for some eye-popping prices on the secondary market. All my decks were mass-market, put out by one of the large publishers of Tarot cards: Llewellyn, U.S. Games, A.G. Mueller, Lo Scarabeo, Piatnik and so on. I’m still a little bit in shock at the values of some of these that I’m finding out there on the Web. And there seems to be no end of gorgeous new decks coming out. Thankfully we seem to have gotten past a period that saw some pretty schlocky decks, designed around silly themes of mermaids, or baseball, in most cases poorly done. The market seems to be driving demand for higher quality decks these days, and the fact that people are willing to pay into the hundreds of dollars no doubt has something to do with it. I had no idea so many of them would be so sought after. When I was bitten by the Tarot bug, I didn’t even know there were people who collected Tarot decks, except of course Stuart Kaplan, who made me practically salivate at the range of his collection pictured in the Encyclopedias of Tarot, Volumes 1 – 4. Some of those would stop your heart.
Anyway, I think I will spend some time getting acquainted with the newest addition to the household.