"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