A Review of the Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set
Featuring the Smith Waite Tarot Centennial Edition Deck
Published by US Games
There are more tarot decks based on A.E. Waite’s designs (and Pamela Colman Smith’s artwork) than any other tarot model.
There is the Rider Waite, the Golden Rider, the Universal Waite, the Albano Waite, The Original Rider Waite, The Radiant Rider Waite, and so on.
When we look at the Smith Waite Tarot Centennial Edition Deck, the first question we need to ask is this. Did the world really need yet another version of this deck?
To me, the answer is clear. The world desperately needs this deck, and any reader who values Pixie’s humongous contribution needs it too.
US Games released this set to celebrate the one hundred year anniversary of the publication of the Waite designed images. That they took this as an opportunity to honor Pamela “Pixie” Colman Smith is brilliant, and long overdue.
Whether you are a new tarot student or an experienced reader, you may wonder why you should pay $35 for yet another Waite deck.
First, the deck is only a small part of what is included in this special set. The set comes in an attractive box that opens up to reveal compartments on each side. One compartment holds the tarot deck. The other holds a wealth of amazing stuff, included a new edition of the Pictorial Key to the Tarot, and a wonderful book by Stuart R. Kaplan.
Kaplan’s book is “The Artwork and Times of Pamela Colman Smith.” It is one hundred pages of color illustrations and stories about Pixie. We can see her handwriting, read her poetry, and learn more about the woman who influenced tarot so greatly. Pixie finally becomes a real person, rather than simply the talented puppet who rendered drawings for Waite. The book includes primary source material. It is graphically beautiful, and a pleasure to read.
That same compartment holds other treats, including postcards of Pixie’s non-tarot artwork, and a tarot spreadsheet. This truly is an epic collector’s edition.
The tarot deck itself is a masterpiece. Of course, we are familiar with the images, and with the structure of the tarot itself. A few things make this edition special, and make it my very favorite edition of this deck for professional readings.
The cards are printed on very heavy stock. It is noticeably heavier than an average deck. It’s perfect for a collector’s edition! The deck stands taller than average decks when side-by-side. The weight of the stock does make the deck harder to shuffle. In all my years of professional reading, I have rarely developed calluses on my hands from sweating over the hot tarot cards. After using this deck as my primary reading deck for only a month, my hands had developed definite ridges. For me, this was kind of a cool badge of honor, although I understand that not every reader might appreciate it that way.
The card backs are a light antique-looking blue with a white border. The white flower from Death’s flag is in the center. Pixie’s familiar initial logo is large and black in alternate corners. The logo does cause clients to ask, “What does that symbol mean?” A quick opportunity to educate an interested client about tarot is never a bad thing.
The card images are re-colored in muted tones. There is a subtle texture, as well. Together, the tones and texture make the cards look antique, as if they had actually been made during Pixie’s time.
In a way, I regret reading with my deck at all, since keeping this collector’s set in mint condition might have been wise. But these cards are just too tempting to keep on the shelf.
My solution is to buy two sets. That way, you can send the postcards to your friends, or incorporate them in art or décor projects. You can read with the deck, use the books as reference, and still have a perfect set in your collection.
That’s right, I am recommending this tarot set so highly, I think some folks will need not only one but two!