Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition

In this deck, we see the cards as they were drawn by Pamela Colman-Smith.  All this gives the impression that you are holding in your hands a truly authentic deck of Tarot cards, which is more than a hundred years old. 

Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition Review

The Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition deck was released in 2009 to mark the centenary of the creation of the Rider-Waite Tarot, the most popular Tarot of our time. These cards were conceived by Arthur Edward Waite and published by William Rider, so the deck was named after these two people.

At the beginning of the XX century, the deck revolutionized the world of Tarot, because for the first time the minor arcana were drawn as cards with full-fledged plots and images.

The main role in creating the deck and in elaboration of the images was certainly played by Waite. But also quite important is the contribution of the artist Pamela Colman-Smith, who drew all the cards in the deck. It is thanks to her that we got these memorable images that have become Tarot classics. The centennial edition pays tribute to the artist, so her name is mentioned in the title along with Arthur Waite. Also, the deck includes two additional cards depicting Pamela's works.

Smith-Waite Tarot Card Deck Centennial Edition

An important feature of the deck is the recreation of the original appearance of the cards published in 1910. Since the Rider-Waite deck was reprinted many times, the appearance of the cards was changed and adjusted. The colors changed many times, they were made more uniform and bright; the lines were aligned and cleaned up. In that case, small details of the images could be lost. But in this deck, we see the cards as they were drawn by Pamela Colman-Smith. The colors are soft and muted. We can see the texture and unevenness of color fillings and uneven lines. The paper on which the cards are printed has a slightly yellowish tint, which gives the effect of antiquity.

All this gives the impression that you are holding in your hands a truly authentic deck of Tarot cards, which is more than a hundred years old.

The publication of cards is performed at an excellent level. The deck is produced by US Games Systems. Here, paper is of perfect weight, print is sharp and heavy. Cards are easy to shuffle. The deck can be purchased in four versions: a full-size one in a cardboard box with LWB and two additional cards with works by Pamela Colman Smith, a smaller pocket edition in a handy tin box (additional cards here with other works of the artist), a full-size version without borders (borderless edition), and a deluxe edition - Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set.

Pamela Colman Smith (also nicknamed Pixie) was an English bohemian artist. Contemporaries noted her non-standard appearance and called her a strange mystical girl with synesthetic sensitivity. Pamela was also a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. A prominent member of this order was Arthur Waite. In 1909, he invited Pamela to illustrate a new Tarot deck.

Waite was a scholar of Freemasonry, Kabbalah, and mystical teachings. Knowledge in these spheres allowed him to rework the previously existing concept of the Tarot and come up with his own system of symbols and images. The major arcana mostly remained close to the traditional meaning. But some differences also appeared: the cards Justice and Strength have been swapped, and some other cards, such as Lovers, had a different plot and interpretation. But the biggest changes affected the minor arcana. If previously only the suit and number of items were indicated on these cards, now the artist had to come up with her own images for these cards. Only a few symbols were borrowed from the 15th-century Italian Sola Busca Tarot deck; the rest were original characters invented by Pamela.

It should be noted that Waite himself did not highly appreciate the contribution of Pamela Smith to the creation of cards. He did not even mention her name in the book that accompanied the deck, mentioning only that the "young woman artist" illustrated the cards in his direction.

However, it is largely thanks to the work of Pixie that the Rider-Smith-Waite deck has had a great influence not only on mystics and occultists but also on many artists, writers, and moviemakers of the last century and today. The characters and graphics of the deck have become recognizable cultural images and are often used by many authors in their works. These cards have spawned huge followers and imitators who created their decks based on the plots and images invented by Arthur Waite and Pamela Colman-Smith.

The Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition deck is ideal for a beginner in Tarot, it can be the main deck for an experienced fortune teller, and of course, it should be a must-have to every tarot card reader or collector of Tarot cards.

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  1. Jacqueline FarmerApril 22, 2022

    HI, I bought this deck and it came with two extra cards that I cant find the meaning of? The first is of an old women siting in a chair with children at her feet and lap, roses are on the chair? The second is of a man & women embracing with birds over their heads. There are no words on the cards and they are not listed in the guide book. Can you tell me what these are? Jackie

  2. Anton HoversenApril 25, 2022

    These cards feature the non-tarot artworks of Pamela Colman Smith. They do not have a divinatory meaning and it is better not to use them in layouts.

What do you think about Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition?

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