The Astrology Center of America, 207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272
Tarot Home Tarot Decks Tarot Books Astrology Home E-Mail: Dave


The Original Rider-Waite Tarot Pack

by Arthur Edward Waite & Pamela Coleman-Smith

The Original Rider-Waite Tarot Pack
Price: $24.00

Number of cards in deck: 78

Measurements: 2.76 x 4.72 inches, or 70 x 120 mm.

Back of card: Blue & white checkerboard (6 x 10) of flower motifs taken from the deck. The center four squares are taken with a larger flower, itself surrounded by four fleur de lys.

Booklet included: Large for a booklet, small for a book: 2.76 x 4.73 inches, or 70 x 120 mm. 160 pages, perfect bound. This is the complete Key to the Tarot, by A.E. Waite, with a foreword by Liz Greene. Not illustrated.

Publisher: Rider Books, part of Random House, UK. Distributed in the US by US Games. Printed in Belguim.

Comments: This is said to be the cards with the colors as Rider originally printed them, back in 1910. Contrast to the current edition here. However, they are not the original size, as you may see by the measurements above. No English printer of the day would have trimmed to exact metric measure.

The enclosed book by Waite is said to be "revised", but no editor is named & it lacks the illustrations of the later editions. I would presume it to be an early revision by Waite himself. Though you may think Waite would write the definitive book on his own deck, he deliberately did not. Like many occultists, he gives only hints.

Liz Greene's foreword is typical of her: The sometimes disturbing and apparently inaccessible images of the Tarot cards have, over the centuries, both attracted those seeking spiritual or prophetic insight and repelled those who fear what they call the 'occult'. Yet the images of Tarot cards are neither inaccessible nor occult, however much any particular spiritual or esoteric school might seek to mystify them. These images are archetypal, which means that they describe essential human situations and patterns which all of us experience in life at one time or another. (pg. 6)

I must concur. Although it's not exactly common, I myself have seen people blindly walk off the edge of cliffs, found them lying on the ground, dead from ten swords, and dangling serenely by one leg. But seriously.

The Rider-Waite deck, the foundation of all modern decks, was, in fact, the production of two famous members of The Order of the Golden Dawn, which was, in fact, a secret esoteric order. They were not the only members of that Order to create a deck, nor was that Order the only order to have created its own, unique tarot deck.

For her part, Liz Greene was exposed to Theosophical teachers during the time she studied with the late Isabelle Hickey, in the late 1960's - early 1970's. Greene didn't care for it, which is her right. She happily studied psychology instead, which eventually came to include the work of C.G. Jung, archetypes & more. It is amusing to see her throw stones at Waite - and the (unnamed) Coleman-Smith.

Nicely boxed, wish more deck & book sets were.

The Astrology Center of America

207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272

Tarot Home Tarot Decks Tarot Books Astrology Home E-Mail: Dave

Established 1993, The Astrology Center of America is owned & operated by David Roell. Except where noted, this entire site (AstroAmerica.com) & its contents are Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by William R. Roell. All rights reserved. Tarot card images are Copyright © by the copyright holder (generally the publisher).