Film Noir Tarot

Nero would have loved EBay

As some of you know, I am a Tarot deck collector. I have slowly acquired a few decks over the years, but this has now turned into a full-blown, time (and money) consuming addiction. Previously I would allow myself one or two decks a year, and had since the early 1990s built up a tiny collection of roughly fifty decks, not all of which are strictly Tarot: Gypsy Witch cards, a Mlle. Lenormand deck, Angel Blessings oracle, Oracle of the Radiant Sun and a couple others I can’t think of just now.

The real slide into infamy got started back in December when I stumbled across a forum specifically for people who share my passion for collecting Tarot cards. Bunch of enablers, really, but good folks. I was interested in buying a particular deck, but I’m the type who has to see some of the cards before I plunk down money on a deck, and so naturally a Web search ensued to find scans of the cards. Well, I found ‘em, at the Tarot Collectors Forum, got the info I needed and bought the deck. That was the Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night. Yum. I love it to death. After that, I discovered that the guy who runs the forum, Adam McLean, issues some lovely limited edition art decks, and so obviously I had to have one of those (you may remember, the Goth Tarot by Winny). By then, of course, the damage was done. I was in deep into this collecting stuff.

And the latest chapter in this gruesome saga is I have discovered the evils of EBay. Oh yes, there are many temptations there. Luckily, I am somewhat knowledgeable on the subject of Tarot and have other sources for cards, so am not easily taken in by some of the overpriced offerings. Why, just last night I nabbed a brand new, still shrink-wrapped, long out-of-print Ansata deck for $25. Score! There are two used copies from other sellers to bid on, starting at $49. Not going to partake of those particular tussles. I’m still a cheapskate, what can I say?

I don’t always bid, but sometimes like to ‘watch’ items of interest if they’re something I’d like but know they’re going to end up out of my reach. This morning a deck I had been watching for several days (whose bid price exceeded my reach days ago) with a “current bid” of $255 jumped to $615 at the very LAST second. It appeared to be a very old copy of the Waite-Smith deck in a blue cloth-covered box, although the seller claimed not to know much about it (I found that a little disingenuous judging by the description and some of the other offerings from the same person). Sometimes it’s fun to just sit back and watch the carnage.

One of the more unusual items I’ve picked up was a handmade deck called The Film Noir tarot. And when they said ‘handmade’ they meant it. Some of the cards look like they were cut out by five-year-olds. Probably the nicest thing about it is the little tin it came in and the bag. It’s a Majors-only deck, and some of images are so grainy you can barely make out who’s in the pictures. It features images from old films (quelle surprise), and I don’t know how the creator obtained the images but some of them have the quality of really old, bad photos from newspapers. Luckily it also included several decoder cards, listing the name of the actor or actress pictured and which movie the image is from. Some I could identify on my own, most not. I have to admit, after spending some time looking through it this morning to photograph it, it is a fun, quirkly little deck, and one of only four created.

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I have foolishly let others slip through my fingers that I should have gone for. But, as I said, I have other sources so all is not lost.

Apart from reading and studying the cards (and another post on that is brewing), the artwork fascinates me, and is a terrific tool for inspiring writers.

UPDATE: 4/4/2010: It looks like another version of the Film Noir Tarot was created back in 2005. Two of the cards can be seen on Adam McLean’s site here. It looks like a more polished version. Now I wonder if the one I got was a prototype that the artist finally decided to sell off. Interesting. The images on the cards on Adam’s site are much clearer than the ones in the deck I have, which look like they’ve been photocopied too many times.