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Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set Paperback – Apr 1 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: United States Games Systems; Pck Deluxe edition (April 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572816392
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572816398
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 13.3 x 18.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #29,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Elkwatcher on July 23 2009
Format: Paperback
Anyone who has even a passing interest in tarot will welcome this wonderful offering, from the exquisite packaging to the contents. However, for some reason, Amazon in Canada is unable to provide a direct means for purchasing it, so it is not in stock. Instead, we are offered ridiculously inflated prices from secondary sellers who should be ashamed of themselves. If you have any interest in this product, check out Amazon's U.S. site (where it's selling for about 23 bucks American) or our own Chapters/Indigo site, where it is in stock and less than 75% cheaper than the gougers are offering to sell it for here.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 59 reviews
75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
US Games Gives theTarot World A Birthday Present June 28 2009
By Thalassa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To celebrate the centennial of this most important deck, Stuart Kaplan has opened the vaults to create a stunning presentation of a beloved favourite. The set is magnificently packaged in a box that would look well on the library bookshelf, and contained within are many delights. When one opens the treasure chest, one finds several postcards of Pixie's art (and one of her), a shiny new (non-pictorial) copy of Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite, and a splendid book by Kaplan containing a wealth of information about Pamela Colman (Pixie) Smith. In a small but mighty tome, her life, her times and her art are lovingly presented with lots of glorious reproductions that help put the "big job for little money" in perspective. But the jewel in the crown is the reproduction of the 1909 Waite-Smith deck. It is splendid (several have pointed out that the colours are a tad muddy, but I think it conveys a sense of age).

Having seen (and fondled) an original 1909 RWS deck, I have always said that if everyone could see the myriad exquisite details in each card, one would come away with an even deeper appreciation for what Pixie did. She created a magical - and often theatrical - landscape for the archetypes and designs to play. Even if you've spent hours studying and contemplating the images, be prepared to invest a lot more time. There are wonders and delights in profusion to be seen in this glorious revival of the deck.

Thanks to Stuart Kaplan and thanks to US Games for giving the world a birthday present for the RWS birthday!
92 of 107 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful packaging but deck is only just lacking. . . May 12 2009
By Edmund Zebrowski - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Pamela Colman Smith Centennial deck arrived today and I have to tell you it was the best $20 I ever spent on Amazon...well almost. The production values of the set are outstanding. The boxed set is very hefty and is stunningly packaged. The box opens with a gatefold and each side has its own cover hiding the treasures beneath. Before we get to deck lets go over the Books-postcards-prints side. Here we get 6 postcards of PCS, a glossy leaflet featuring three spreads ( 5 card love, Woven, and 3 card relationship) , 3 larger prints of her work as well as to books A.E. Waite's Pictorial Key that clocks in at 239 pages and the 101page Artwork and Times of PCS by Stewart Kaplan. Both are printed on exquisite heavy weight paper and the PCS book has copious images of her works outside of the deck. The downside to these books is the bindings, if not handled carefully, could be prone to breakage. The covers are very heavy card stock that too needs to be handled with care or it will crease with relative ease. The good part is it looks like they are sewn bindings so the pages should be safe, but for those that want to keep their set in mint shape just handle them with care. All in all a minor gripe about this half of the set. Onto the deck . . . .

Side two pops open with the deck and a pale blue organza bag to keep it in. (Does anyone REALLY use those?) The deck is of very nice stock and has a nice semi-gloss finish to it so those that were worrying about the stock can rest easy, The deck measures up to about 1 1/4 inches so it's thicker then then normal 3/4-1 in decks we are used to but not as thick as the original that comes in at just over 1 1/2 inches. As for the images, yes Virginia they are from the Pam A. The only sort-a issue I have is that many of them look like they are reproductions of pictures of the deck if that makes any sense. Like if you take a picture of a card then print out the picture as opposed to having placed the card on a scanner and taken it like that. It's not on all cards but on a bunch of them enough to make it distracting. This also makes some of the fine lines blur a little.. The other thing is the artificial `aging' of the deck. This again takes away some of the crispness of the images and mutes the colors. Is this better then the ORWS? BY MILES!!!! You'll want to toss that one in the trash once you see this one, but is it the holy grail of decks? Sadly it falls short for me. It will become my go to for RWS reading wise but after going through it with the Pam A crackle back that I have tucked away in a box there is still a part of me that wishes that the original was cleaned and presented as a bright vivid reproduction as best as it could have been.

All in all a great effort that I'd give a B- too because the packaging, books, extras and card stock are outstanding (I hope they use that stock on other decks.) but the images are still sadly lacking. . . .sigh. . . . . but the cards do shuffle well and feel good under the fingers. I have no doubt that this will become the go to deck for most RWS fans and untill we get a brighter version of the 1910 this edition deserves it
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Handsome Box Set Celebrating "Pixie" Colman Smith May 19 2009
By Janet Boyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Although she may have been disillusioned with the art and publishing establishment, Pamela never ceased to believe in her abilities or in the worthiness of her art. Her personal effects contain many scraps of paper covered with drawings and doodles, and even her church missal is sketched on its margins and flyleaves. Smith was always busy with pencil and sketchbook." -- From The Artwork & Times of Pamela Colman Smith by Stuart R. Kaplan

While Pamela Colman Smith is best known for illustrating the Rider-Waite Tarot, in her day she received accolades and endorsements for not only her drawings, but also her paintings, theatrical set designs, cardboard props and storytelling abilities. In fact, J.M Barrie of Peter Pan fame thusly raves of Smith's oral presentations of folk stories from Jamaica: "I know of no more delightful entertainment for children than yours, so quaint, so simple; and it is the prettiest of pictures, the children sitting agape around you."

Irish poet and Nobel laureate W.B. Yeats echoes Barrie: "Miss Pamela Smith tells her little stories so naturally and simply that one cannot think she would have told them differently at the other side of the world, or a thousand years ago..."

In the introduction to Smith's illustrated book Annancy Stories, American diplomat and novelist of the South Thomas Nelson Page described the Jamaican tales as "perhaps the most original contribution to Negro Folklore since Uncle Remus."

In addition to her prolific art--which included watercolors, portraits, children's book illustrations, theater program drawings, book frontispieces, sheet music graphics and theatrical costume designs--Smith was also a publisher, poet, children's author, essayist and superb raconteur.

With the much-anticipated Pamela Colman Smith biography, author and U.S. Games founder Stuart R. Kaplan chronicles the social milieu of Smith's day, as well as Smith's originality, panache, friendships, business ventures, manner of dress, and engaging storytelling.

The 101-page book The Artwork & Times of Pamela Colman Smith features over 100 non-Tarot full-color samples of Smith's art interwoven with Mr. Kaplan's meticulous research. One of the most fascinating elements of the biography is the plenteous entries from her personal visitor's book containing poems, comments, signatures, doodles, and sketches from many prominent artists, writers and actors.

Another intriguing inclusion is a hand written letter from Smith to Alfred Stieglitz asking for money and mentioning that she "just finished a big job for very little cash: a set of designs for a pack of Tarot cards 80 designs."

The handsomely packaged double-sided fold-out box with two easy-pull yellow ribbons not only includes The Artwork & Times of Pamela Colman Smith biography, but also:

* A 238-page glossy version of Arthur Edward Waite's Pictorial Key to the Tarot

* The Smith-Waite Centennial Edition Tarot Deck, faithfully reproduced from the original 1909 deck

* Sky blue drawstring organza bag for deck storage

* Six glossy postcards featuring an assortment of Smith's art

* Three 5 x 7 glossy replications of Smith's artwork

* Black and White photo of Pamela Colman Smith

* 5 x 7 foldout of three Tarot spreads

Chock full of wonderful goodies, the Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set is a must-have for deck collectors, fans of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, art lovers and theater enthusiasts. This deluxe keepsake box set will be especially treasured by those who feel it's high time "Pixie" gets her due as an accomplished artist, keen observer, and soulful artisan outside of her Tarot illustrations.

(To see 16 images from the Smith-Waite Centennial Edition Tarot, visit the Reviews--Decks section at JanetBoyer.com)

-- Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A VERY BEAUTIFUL TRIBUTE TO PAMELA COLMAN SMITH Dec 14 2012
By yvonne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The PAMELA COLMAN SMITH COMMEMORATIVE SET celebrating the 2009 centennial left me conflicted but I decided to give this set a five star rating. The deck is a faithful reproduction of the original RIDER WAITE SMITH TAROT deck published in 1909 and it is clear a lot of effort went into the creation of this set but it has an unnecessary flaw: it includes THE PICTORIAL KEY TO THE TAROT by Arthur Edward Waite which was the booklet that, in 1910, joined the deck.

The images of the RIDER WAITE SMITH TAROT have been the face of tarot in books and movies and, though deceptively simple, offer a wealth of symbolism; its 1909 creation represented a shift from most of the tarot decks of the time because all the cards are illustrated; it was not the first to do so (as many believe) but it has been much imitated.

As it is currently the most popular tarot deck in the English-speaking world, it would have been nice to to have this set be a perfect product.

The presentation of the set is gorgeous. The beautifully boxed set opens like a book with sturdy inner covers and consists of the deck, postcards and 2 books - postcards and books on the left and cards in pretty, light-blue sheer bag with ribbon-tie fitted snugly into its own well on the right. The book bindings could be more durable and the stiff cardboard book covers might crease easily ... but how often will you be reading them??

I really like this edition of the RWS deck which has been renamed the SMITH-WAITE TAROT CENTENNIAL EDITION DECK and is more warm-toned in color with a softer feel than we usually see. My guess is that they may have been created using photos of the surviving originals. The coloring is similar to that of the RWS in THE ORIGINAL RIDER WAITE TAROT PACK which, also, has a warmer coloring but this is slightly darker, richer and has a different back. The backs here show the same thin white border and fine black inner border as the front of the cards with Colman Smith's initials in the upper left hand corner and the lower right hand corner, in black, and all on a background of light blue-grey with a small image of the Rosicrucian Rose from the Death card in the center ... a very simple and pleasing choice that I like better than the black-white-light blue plaid that U.S.Games usually has on the backs of their RWS.

The first book, THE ARTWORK AND TIMES OF PAMELA COLMAN SMITH by Stuart R. Kaplan is the real gift here simply for its information on Pamela ("Pixie") Colman Smith. Kaplan collected books, art, magazines, letters and ephemera that belonged to her, and has put together an illuminating picture of her life and how she came to create the most recognizable cards in the Western world and I am so glad to see how it celebrates the under-appreciated artist and showcases a lifetime of her artwork. The presentation and Kaplan's book alone are worth the price.

The other book, THE PICTORIAL KEY TO THE TAROT by Waite, is crap which is ironic since it has always been Waite who was credited as the creator of the RWS; this very special edition deserves a better book - see "FAVORITE TAROT BOOKS" in Listmania for alternatives; there have been so many excellent tarot books illustrated with this deck. I can understand the possible dilemma the producers of this set may have faced if they believed that part of presenting a 100 year anniversary set is to recreate all that was part of the original. For me, it would have been an easy decision: go for a better book. There are so many to choose from ... but that is not, for whatever reason, what they decided to do.

Waite was a member of the THE HERMETIC ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN and this tarot deck came out of the spiritual work of THE HERMETIC ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN. When Waite decided to create this deck using Pamela Colman Smith as the artist, she was already a member as William Butler Yeats had introduced her to the order and she joined in 1901, and, in the process, met Waite. The problem is that Waite never intended THE PICTORIAL KEY TO THE TAROT to clearly explain the deck to the masses who he believed could not really understand it the way it was meant to be understood by his fellow members of THE HERMETIC ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN and the result of this is that THE PICTORIAL KEY TO THE TAROT is, at best, incoherent. It is clear that Waite did not foresee a serious use of his deck outside the order ... or, at least, seemed to have little interest or commitment to its cultivation - we are on our own.

It is, also, clear (from what we understand now) that he was more interested in THE MAJOR ARCANA, which portrays the spiritual journey, and handed over and had little interest in or even bothered to understand the MINOR ARCANA, which portrays mundane existence, but this is most of the deck and so, to me, is at least as much the creation of Pamela Colman Smith. I have, on my own, been reading about Pamela Colman Smith and felt she was an amazing woman reported to have had synesthesia and psychic gifts and, at the least, was extremely gifted at portraying both the teachings of the order and the human experience in her drawings ... and so I was very happy to see her finally getting more recognition for her role in the creation of the RWS.

RWS is my primary deck, though I own a lot of tarot decks, and I believe it has the most comprehensive, powerful, complex and emotionally meaningful imagery ... but, yes there are other decks with more beautiful art. Many have rejected RWS because they do not like its artwork. This would have surprised this deck's creators as they were not trying to create a work of art but a tool for spiritual self-development. To me, too many modern decks are beautiful or trendy first and a functioning tool second ... though there is nothing wrong with trying to be both. Unfortunately, in the process of trying to recreate a more aesthetically pleasing version of the RWS while keeping its structure, meaning and imagery, changes have been introduced that alter the meaning in the original images by well meaning people who seem to think they are not making a major change.

For example:

(1.) the SIX OF CUPS card, in many decks, becomes 2 children but it is not 2 children in the original RWS image but a symbolically enlarged child offering a gift of a WHITE flower to an adult;

(2.) the TEN OF SWORDS card, in many decks, loses its golden dawn, the carefully placed line-up of swords (along acupuncture points) following spine and in ear, the mudra for joy in the positioning of the fingers of the right hand and the turning of his head to face the sea (water, emotions); this card, for me, was especially meaningful as I discovered tarot a couple of months after my mother's death and all the details resonated deeply;

(3.) THE LOVERS card, in many decks, is reduced to being another TWO OF CUPS and even when there is token mention of the element of choice in the meanings section of their book, it is not always in the image but, in the RWS image of THE LOVERS, we are presented with a choice between the tree of life and the tree of knowledge;

(4.) THE CHARIOT card, in many decks, shows running horses and a driver holding reins but, in the RWS image, there are no reins and no physical movement because everything happens by the power of mind and will.

There are other examples but these, for some reason, bother me the most.

What I am saying is that, for me, the only accurate version of the RWS is the RWS and, if there is some RWS clone you prefer, you should be aware in what ways it changes the images and meanings and how you feel about it. If you are fine with it, there is no problem.

For me, because I work closely with the images in my use of tarot for self-exploration, problem-solving and meditation and because I have found RWS meanings that are important to me have been lost in many of the RWS clones and not replaced with other symbols with the same or similar meaning, I have other decks in addition to but not instead of my RWS.

Amazon.com sometimes lists the same product in separate listings for reasons that are a mystery to me; so this is a review I had previously written in August for a different listing of this same product.

In any case, I am very happy to see this belated tribute to Pamela Colman Smith and love the deck and hope this is not the last we see of the SMITH-WAITE TAROT CENTENNIAL EDITION.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The best Rider Waite I own Jan. 2 2012
By Aleksandar Maricic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the fifth RWS Tarot deck I own. I have Lo Scarabeo's Pamela Coleman Smith RWS version, the regular US Games pocket size, the "original RWS tarot deck box set" and a cheap local knock off.

This is hands down the best version I've ever seen. Its advantages over all the others are as follows:

-Beautiful desaturated colours unlike the rest which feature garish high contrasts in various degrees
-Excellent card stock (incomparable in thickness and quality to the rest)
-Best price for what you get - the others come close in terms of cost but are nowhere near in quality
-Best additional material. Which doesn't say much as the rest of the included items are badly made in comparison to the deck - the satin bag tore after a few days use, the books fall apart almost instantly due to the pages being too thick for the spine

A quick word on the other decks:
- Lo Scarabeo's version features, in my opinion cheap and flimsy card stock coupled with weirdly printed colours (there are gradients of colour where the colour should be uniform. Probably a flaw in the printing process. A small and mostly useless booklet is provided. All this for a relatively high price makes it a distant second best choice.
- The regular US games pocket size are printed on decent quality card stock. The plait backs are unattractive and the colors are horribly garish.
- The "original RWS" set is the worst of the lot. It comes in a fancy box with a small version of Waite's book. However the deck is a piece of garbage. The cards are more plastic than paper, and the colors are so saturated and uniform that the entire deck is unusable. Out of the 20+ decks I own this is easily the worst, and the worst I've ever seen.

Buy this product if you want a RWS deck and consider buying a separate bag and/or wooden box for storage, as the provided one counts on keeping the rest of the materials which makes the whole package a bit impractical to carry around and use regularly. I'm seriously considering selling all my other decks just to buy another copy of this one. Its that good!


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