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.

36 thoughts on “Nero would have loved EBay

  1. Heya DD,

    The first few lines of your post really made me giggle. Nah…I had no idea you collected tarot decks! 😉

    Too bad the film noir one was badly made. The theme is right up my ally.


    1. Yeah, I wish the seller would have been a little more explicit in their description of the deck. I think I probably would have bought it anyway, but it would have been nice to know. It wasn’t expensive (I think I paid $26 including shipping) so I wasn’t expecting anything too extraordinary. I will say the lamination is good, they should last even if I use them for a reading now and then. It wouldn’t have cost much, though, to get one of those corner cutters from a craft store to at least make the corners evenly rounded. Oh well.

      I also think one person got the other 3. Had to be another collector. I was surprised they bowed out of the bidding and let me get this one in the end.


  2. I love film noir. There have been attempts to revive it but none of those movies seemed to capture a really authentic film noir feel.

    I love collecting tarot decks too. However, due to current financial situation, I’ve had to curb back considerably on my purchases although I do have a really long wish list at this point. 🙂

    I’ve actually contemplated creating my own tarot deck but I just haven’t had the wherewithal to do it. But it would be fun, I think. Maybe some day.


    1. Oh, you should absolutely try your hand at creating a deck! That would be fantastic. Are you a member of the Tarot Collector’s Forum? They do collaborative decks, I think they’re in the process of one now, where anyone who wants to signs on to do one or more cards. That might be a fun way to test the waters and your design skills. I might get in on the next one, but I really don’t have any artistic skills so my contribution would likely be some kind of collage.

      Yes, my ‘wish list’ grows by the day, too! The more I hang around those enablers on TCF the worse it gets 😉


  3. Hmm…the fact that you are constantly mentioning that tarot group to which you belong?

    Not to mention your habit of posting links to every incredible new tarot you come across.

    And every incredible old, almost-out-of print tarot that you come across.

    Must I go on? 😉


      1. Hmm, I smell your next gothic horror novel! Twins, separated at birth, one good, one evil, both with the gift of prophecy; Good twin tries to suppress her idiosyncracies and live a conventional life, until the Bad Twin surfaces, wreaking havoc, and GT has to dust off her gift in order to save humanity. Somehow a dusty old tarot deck lying around a barely-staying-in-business antique shop is involved…


      2. I’m not sure if I’ve only ever met the Good Twin or the Bad Twin, but you’ve always seemed pretty consistent to me 😀


  4. I have a few tarot scenes in Portraits of the Living: A Ghost Tale.

    And somehow, tarot is sneaking into my latest WIP…

    Have you ever read John Crowley? I read his, “Little Big”. Tarot features heavily in that; and I’ve heard he also uses it in a lot of his other works.


  5. I haven’t heard of John Crowley. Aleister is the only Crowley I’ve read, I think 😉 I’ll check it out.

    How strange that Tarot is showing up in your works, too…imagine that 😉


  6. Mary,

    The first time I started, “Little Big”, I had to put it down. Just couldn’t get into it. Several months later I decided to try again. It’s now one of my favorite novels.



    *clears throat*

    I am very sorry to inform you that I was working on Portraits (tarot scenes included) before I ever came across your enabling ways. So I am afraid you can not take credit for that. 😦

    I did, however, dream of vampires a few nights ago. THAT, I’m blaming on you. 😉


    1. Oh phew! :::wipes brow::; at least I don’t get blamed for everything! The vampires, however, I will happily take credit for. Was it a scary dream? Did you turn into a vampire?


  7. Mary,

    nah. I like garlic too much.

    Oh wait. So do Terry Pratchett’s vamps in Carpe Jugulum. So there is a slight chance…

    I’ll report back if I start getting weird cravings. (other than my usual weird cravings)


  8. Oooo, that’s a good one! Well, good in the sense of seriously vampiric… you know what I mean. I hope. I’ve never had dreams about vampires other than my fictional Andrej, and those were… well… yummy 🙂


  9. Love those cards! Film noir is one of my old passions. They may turn out to be a treasure…I have a couple decks which I never use, (one is still in box and perfect condition that I bought solely for the beauty of them -Moon Oracle) but you may have inspired me to break them out. I just realized one of my characters would definitely have a deck to turn to on a regular basis. It will blow the MC’s mind 🙂
    Hope all is well with you all 🙂


    1. Hi Jan!

      Great to hear from you again. You know, the more I played with the cards while trying to get a decent photo the more I liked them. Yeah, they’re cut a little wonky, but they are pretty sturdy from the lamination so I think they will hold up well. The film noir theme was too hard to resist, there’s just nothing like it.

      I’m a little (ok, A LOT) obsessed with collecting decks these days, way more than I should be. Most of them, like you said, I never use, I bought solely because I loved the artwork and imagery so much. Take them out and enjoy them, and blow that MC’s mind! 😉


    1. Heya Tasha,

      I actually have thought about that, I just haven’t gotten around to it! 🙂 Some of them are almost too pretty to read with, the idea of shuffling them is too gruesome. I just need to think up some interesting ways of framing or showcasing them. Those clear plastic mounting corners would probably work well, do several cards in a display, somehow or other. :::scratching head:::


  10. If you know how to cut mats, you could do that (or have it done) and group them according some theme or other: a few different versions of the same card, or a few different cards from the same deck – Fang does that with souvenirs and sports memorabilia, and it always looks great. He often buys cheap prints with cute fromes, then removes the prints, and devotes more $$ and trouble to the mats.


    1. I was thinking of that, like doing several of the High Priestess cards, or Star cards. I don’t know how to cut mats, however. I’ll have to pay more attention in the craft store for ideas.


  11. p.s. you know I mean frAmes, not “fromes,” right? (frome sounds like some kind of fantastical creature: a freakish gnome, maybe.)


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