Adam's Tarot Weblog|
Entries from from 21st November 2006 to 30th April 2007.
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30th April 2007 A month or so ago I got a copy of the stylish Tarot Divinatoire des Tendances.
Today the Tarot de l'Amour arrived in the post.
This is obviously by the same artist and similarly in the style of fashion drawings for couturiers. The Tarot de l'Amour was issued by the French lingerie house, Aubade, as a promotional item. It is a 22 card deck and comes in a rather fine red cloth wallet with red lace in the style of lingerie and tied with a bow.
27th April 2007 Last Summer I came across the tarot mosaics in the Chateau de Avenieres at Cruseilles in France, which were commissioned in 1917 by Assan Farid Dina, an enthusiast for all things esoteric. Since then I have been able to get good quality images of the tarot mosaics in an ebook written by Alain Bocher (the artist of the Tarot de la Rea). A few days ago a correspondent informed me that there was a new web site dedicated to the Chateau de Avenieres at hermetism.free.fr/Avenieres/index.htm There are some wonderful photos of the tarot mosaics at hermetism.free.fr/Avenieres/avenieres12.htm Do take a look at the images shown there.
This monument is one of the hidden treasures of tarot art.
27th April 2007 Sometimes in being a Tarot collector, one degenerates into the seriously sad. I have to admit to recently buying a copy of the Landrover Tarot. This is a promo deck and not a full tarot, having only twelve cards, not all of which are named with the standard tarot arcana names. The cards all show photographs of one of the Landrover models set against a background of sections of classic Japanese prints, some with the familiar form of Mount Fuji. I ask for other offences to be taken into account, for example, the Italian World Cup winners' tarot Italia Campione del Mondo by Ernesto Solari. I have however managed to resist that Wolf Pack Tarot, but no doubt one day I will weaken and buy a cheap used copy.
26th April 2007 Today I received the Galaxies Tarot, a Taiwanese deck from the same publisher/artist as the Maschera Tarot and Carnevale Tarot. This is a 78 card deck in which each card bears a photograph of an astronomical object. This idea has already been explored by Kay Stopforth in her Universe cards oracle deck of 1999. The Galaxies Tarot attempts to make an entire tarot deck out of astronomical photographs. Some card images work quite well, a comet for 'The Chariot', Jupiter's complex atmospheric pattern for 'The Wheel of Fortune', but with the Minor Arcana it has obviously proven more difficult to assign a photograph of a galaxy, nebula or dust cloud to reflect any meaning associated with the card. So one just has to take delight in the beautiful images themselves. The cards are laminated with the same sparkly laminate used in the other decks by this artist. In some lighting conditions when looked at face on, the sparkles somewhat interfere with viewing the image itself, but I find that by holding them at a slight angle the sparkles disappear and the picture can be clearly seen.
13th April 2007 I have been very busy over the past week producing the next tarot in my series - the Quantum Tarot. I finished this late last night and this morning have put it up on the web site for sale. Perhaps I will find time over the next few days to create some new entries in this weblog as I have a load of new things to talk about.
3rd April 2007 I spent the day laminating 50 copies of the next tarot deck I am producing in my series. Next comes the exacting and time consuming process of cutting the printed sheets down into cards. Hopefully I will be able to find time to do this over the next day or so.
30th March 2007 Recently I was able to buy one of the last remaining copies of the Sinister Tarot. This is by the wonderfully pseudonymous 'Christos Beest' and is published by the Order of the Nine Angles. This deck emerges out of a post-Crowley magic, and has only 21 cards as it is based on a septenary (sevenfold ) and triadic system (3x7 being 21). Some of the cards are renamed - thus the Fool is 'Physis' (Greek for 'Nature'), card VI is the alchemical 'Azoth' and so on - though the conventional tarot structure is for the most part retained. The artwork is rather edgy with some powerful and disturbing images. Some cards have complex geometrical symbols, similar to magical sigils. Many of the cards have some depiction of a tetrahedron. Only 40 copies were issued in this limited edition. As it is such a well conceived deck, I assume it will be well sought after by future collectors.
29th March 2007 Yet another amazing Japanese tarot has come my way. Called the Develop your Future tarot, it was produced in 1995, and comes with a book and a CD-Rom. There are no great surprises in the artwork which adheres closely to the classic tarot imagery, but it is beautifully painted. So many fine Japanese tarots were produced in the 1980's and 1990's in a great variety of different styles, but all flawlessly painted. This one has wonderful decorated borders.
28th March 2007 Later today I received a parcel from Taiwan containing a number of tarots I had bought. Among these is a totally unknown Cat Tarot from Japan. These small cards show all the signs of being pressed out of a perforated card and are likely to have been a free gift with a Japanese young person's magazine. These are cartoon cats with rather stylised features and body forms and the images are mildly humorous. Many collectors take a special delight in Cat tarots, but here is one that may be a bit difficult to find. Many people find magazine tarots not worth adding to their collection, but I find them rather interesting and try to acquire as many as I can.
28th March 2007 This period seems to be an incredibly creative and productive one for me. Though my Art Tarot publishing project is not immediately showing a profit, it is beginning (after one year and twelve tarots) to show signs of at least supporting itself, though without factoring in all the time I spend on the production. The project has brought me many interesting contacts and much personal satisfaction in being able to bring some of these wonderful tarot designs into actual card form. In the past few days I have been offered another set of beautiful images for publication. I am trying through this project to provide a means for tarot artists to get their creations into printed form. It is hard work doing the production but it is so very rewarding to see the cards printed and boxed up. I can only spend a part of my time on tarot as my alchemical book publishing activities and study courses take up a major segment of my time, but I feel the Art Tarot project is already establishing itself as a significant publishing venture. I am sure other things will grow out of it. Watch this space !
27th March 2007 Over the past few days I finished the latest tarot in my series, the Tarot Obscura of Chris Bivins.
This is now up for sale on my site. Now I am working on the next !
23rd March 2007 This morning I was woken up by my postman delivering a large box from Tarot Garden. This contained a large wooden box within which, wrapped up in a silky cloth, were some tarot cards painted in oils on scraps of canvas by the Canadian artist Shandra MacNeill. This was apparently a one off commissioned deck she had made some years ago. I must write to her and see if she gave it a title. I have most of her printed decks in my collection so I was very pleased to obtain this original artwork.
21st March 2007 I printed out the next tarot in my series. It is an extremely skilled and creative example of digital computer art. I still have to laminate, cut the cards and make them up into decks in boxes. Hopefully I might get that done over the weekend provided there are no interruptions, or other tasks to which I have to give priority.
19th March 2007 I worked most of the weekend laminating, cutting and making up the most recent deck in my Art Tarot series, the Ascension Tarot by Elizabeth Berg. So these are now up for sale. I still have two other tarots in production over the next month. It is hard work producing a deck and I suppose that is why there are few publishers of these specialist tarots around. It is so unprofitable that the only way one can make any money from these is by doing all the production work oneself. Sales of my decks are quite slow but in time they will sell out the edition (only 80 copies are or sale). Once there are only a few copies left then probably I will find people keener to buy. This is the situation with the Aleph tarot as there are only 13 copies left now and the Alchemical Emblems also has only 29 copies left of the edition. My mad publishing project will continue as there are so many wonderful tarot designs out there that should be published and made available for people to enjoy. I need to increase my mailing list of customers so if you, or any of your friends, would be interested in receiving regular updates on my tarot publishing activities do please join the mailing list.
16th March 2007 I just received news of a tarot workshop in Italy.
A ONE-DAY WORKSHOP - ON RESERVATION AT MUSEO DEI TAROCCHI -RIOLA DI VERGATO (BOLOGNA) ITALY
with Robert Place (artist & researcher - New York - U .S.A.)
ON SUNDAY, JUNE, 24TH, 2007 - 10.00-18.00 Translation English/Italian
ALCHEMY AND THE TAROT
In the summer of 1987 while studying an alchemical image, I had an epiphany. In a flash of insight, I realized that the esoteric symbolism of alchemy was interchangeable with the symbols contained in the Tarot trumps. If this is true, I asked myself, then isn’t it also true that the Tarot is an expression of the same spiritual quest? The answer came to me as a revelation of the alchemical message in the Tarot, and although it lasted only minutes, it led me on an eight-year journey that culminated in the creation of the Alchemical Tarot. In this workshop I will illuminate that revelation, examine the alchemical process as it evolved from the ancient Hermetic philosophy of Alexandria to become incorporated into the world view of the early Renaissance, and explain in detail the alchemical process outlined by the Tarot. Making use of number symbolism to make alchemical concepts accessible. The underlying pattern of the hero's quest will be illustrated from the single unity of the Monad to the cycle of twelve operations and back again. The class will continue with advanced Tarot reading practice designed to make alchemical transformation relevant in one’s life.
Robert M. Place is an internationally known visionary artist and illustrator, whose award winning works, in painting, sculpture, and jewelry, have been displayed in galleries and museums in America, Europe, and Japan and graced the covers and pages of numerous books and publications. He is the designer, illustrator, and co-author, with Rosemary Ellen Guiley, of: The Alchemical Tarot and The Angels Tarot, which are both published by HarperCollins and have received international acclaim. He is the designer, illustrator, and author of The Tarot of the Saints and The Buddha Tarot. And, he is the author of The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination, which Booklist has said, “may be the best book ever written on... the tarot.” Place is currently working on The Vampire Tarot, which will be published by St. Martins Press in 2007. Robert is recognized as an expert on Western Mysticism, the history of the Tarot, and as a gifted teacher of divination. He has taught and lectured at the New York Open Center, Omega Institute, The New York Tarot School, and the World Tarot Congress. He and his work have appeared on Discovery, The Learning Channel, and A&E.
INFO 0039 51916563 0039 51916750
15th March 2007 I began printing out the next tarot in my series. This is a black and white, pen drawn tarot, with wonderfully original imagery. It will take quite a few days to laminate, cut and make up the decks for sale, but I would hope to be able to announce this for sale next week. If anyone wants information about my Art Tarot publishing projects they should join the mailing list for up to date information and special offers to regular customers.
14th March 2007 I completed my study course and converted it to CD-Rom format. Next designed the packaging insert and the label, then printed out twenty copies. This is the Foundation Course of 25 lessons presenting various ways for exploring the riches of the artwork of modern tarot. I undertook a great deal of research in devising this course which is primarily based on my own personal collection. I will take a break from writing for a while but will return to creating a second advanced course later this year. There is a growing interest in tarot as art, so if you wish to take the study course please click here.
12th March 2007 Today the Pirate Tarot arrived in its large wooden box. On opening this treasure chest I found a set of 22 'cards' in the form of 2 millimetre thin slices of cherry wood which have had the image burnt into them using one of those laser engravers. The artwork is finely detailed and the 'cards' have the appearance of the relief carved wood blocks from which woodcuts are printed. These are really meant as artwork and not necessarily to be used as fortune telling cards, as they do not seem to be very strong and could easily become damaged with frequent handling. The pirate theme is wonderully realised and some of the cards are renamed to fit the theme, thus the Magician becomes 'The Chirurgeon', The High Priestess 'The Figurehead', the Hierophant as 'The Bosun', Judgement becomes walking 'The Plank'. An excellent deck in a very unusual medium.
7th March 2007 Cheryl Carlyle is a very prolific Canadian tarot artist who has produced six tarots with more designs under way. She is especially drawn to the theme of angels and has explored this from various perspectives. She produces and markets her own work, tarot decks, cards and other things. So far she has issued the Hello from Heaven Tarot, Angel Gateways Tarot, Sacred Circle Native Honour Tarot, Angels of Faith, Hope and Charity Tarot, Guardian Angel of Mercy Tarot and Cosmic Circle of Angels Tarot. She is a pagan/wiccan Christian and happily finds no contradiction between these different strands of her faith. Her art is direct and unsophisticated, her creative ideas often outstrip and transcend her artistic expression but there is a wonderful creative tension in her work. Hopefully she will be able to sell a few copies so she can continue her work. I would urge everyone to buy at least one of her amazing suite of decks in case they disappear from sale. www.aimdesigns.ca/products.html
Here are just a few examples from the Hello from Heaven Tarot, Guardian Angel of Mercy Tarot, Angel Gateways Tarot and the Sacred Circle Native Honour Tarot.
1st March 2007 Today I received another triangular tarot, O Tarot de Molinero, published in Brasil in 1989. This is, however, among the weirdest tarots that I now possess. Professor José Ramon Molinero, who looks a little like the older Salvador Dali, called himself Yogakrisnanda and wrote over 40 books. He was the High Priest of the White Lemon Society which was dedicated to the spiritual development of the human being. His tarot, apart from its unusual triangular format, is very strange, as each card bears a reproduction of a postage stamp. These stamps are mostly franked rather than reproductions of mint copies, so they are likely to be from Molinero's stamp collection. The stamps on the Major Arcana are chosen for the fact that their imagery links into the tarot symbolism. Thus the High Priestess has a Cuban stamp with a female figure, the Hierophant has a stamp from Guernsey depicting a Bishop, the Tower is a pair of minarets on a stamp from Yemen, and so on. Also included on each Major Arcana is another image which seem to be pictures from greetings cards of men with beards! The four suits each have a stamp - Swords have a Polish stamp with a sword, Wands is a stamp from Guinea Ecutorial, Cups has a stamp from Hungary with a chalice, and Pentacles has another Polish stamp depicting a coin. The pips have the requisite number of stamps. The Court cards have stamps with Kings, Queens, Knights and foot soldiers. It is quite the oddest tarot I have seen, and I do have a few odd ones in my collection ! Tarot is an amazing subject and constantly surprises.
20th February 2007 This afternoon I was very fortunate to be able to buy number 4 of a Tarot deck limited to only five copies. This set me thinking about what other very limited editions that I currently possess. I immediately thought of the Tarot of the Ayrshire Witches which was only 6 copies, the Shattered Dreams of the Tarot which I mentioned back on the 22nd of December, the Big Water which is an unissued single copy. I took another look at the René Marcel Riviere prints I showed on 14th February here and saw that they were all signed and numbered 0/500, which implies they were the artist's proof copies. I have never seen any other mention of these, if they had been issued as 500 copies then someone else would have these, so it may be that the artist never produced the edition, and I have some of the one off prints. I also remembered a little Fairy Tarot made by the Australian Pat Martian in August 2005. I knew these were hand made but was surprised to see that they were signed and numbered 1/1 implying they were an unique item. These are quite delightful pen drawings subtly shaded and with a little sprinking of sparkling gold, so I will show them here.
16th February 2007 Today I received a copy of the beautiful Japanese Megaten World Tarot from 1994. This has wonderful clean and sharp coloured drawings by an artist signing himself as 'Kaz'. This deck is based on a computer game, but unlike many other such tarots, the imagery here is relevant to usual symbolism of the arcana. It also adds an angelic name or the name of an angelic hierarchy to the cards - the Magician is 'Ramiel', High Priestess is 'Haniel', while the Emperor is the hierarchy of the Dominions and the World is the Ophanim (the Wheels of the celestial chariot). The Fool bears the name 'Louis Cyphre' the main character in the novel by William Hjortsberg Falling Angel which was made into the film Angel Heart with Robert De Niro playing the 'Louis Cyphre' character. Why Cyphre appears in this tarot remains a bit of a mystery to me.
14th February 2007 A few weeks ago on 24th January I was noting my surprise at the imagery of the Fool in the Erotica Tarot by Ylva Trollstierna (Sweden 2002). This showed the Fool as a hermaphrodite who was masturbating with both his/her male and female organs. Today while looking through a pile of tarot prints that I had in the back of my storeroom, I found one to trump that. How could I have forgotten the Death image from the series of prints of fine pencil drawings by the Austrian artist René Marcel Riviere made in 1987 ? This shows a hermaphroditic figure being embraced by Death in the form of a skeleton. Surely a conventional enough image - until one looks at the hermaphrodite who appears to be impregnating her/himself. The tight structure of tarot imagery is no restriction on the creative imagination of artists.
11th February 2007 A number of well known artists have produced artworks based on tarot. An unambiguous example is that of the Romanian surrealist Victor Brauner. He was very much influenced by emblematic symbolism, including that of alchemy, and in 1947 he created a painting entitled Le Surrealiste which is clearly a version of the Magician. He also created in 1947 a painting entitled 'The Lovers' in which the Juggler and the Popess are shown. Brauner also contributed to Le Jeu de Marseille, surrealist tarot designs organised by Andre Breton, which were later issued as an actual deck. These appear to be playing cards rather than a tarot.
9th February 2007 I have been working on another tarot, number 11 in my series. The artists have now approved the sample printings I made recently and I can now begin to move into the production phase. This is a quite wonderfully creative tarot made by computer modified photo-collage. I will be announcing it shortly. I am always looking for new designs and would also like to find some further painted tarots.
7th February 2007 Again I have to update my list of tarots with the theme of the mask, as today another tarot arrived from Taiwan, the Carnevale Tarot, from the same publisher/artist as the Maschera tarot. It is printed on the same plastic stock with the embedded glitter, but here the deck images are photographs of people in Venetian carnevale costumes with masks. It appears to have been photgraphed in Venice, as one can see some characteristic architecture in the backgrounds to some of the cards. This is a full 78 card deck. The card printing and lamination is rather strange. If you look at the card straight on, the light scatters off the somewhat reflective surface and the image is a bit dulled, however, if you just look at it at a slight angle, the printing suddenly is seen clearly with full saturation and detailed colours.
5th February 2007 By good fortune I have been able to collect all the 22 cards that make up the Atorel or Eutherapie tarot. These are large cards 10.5x6.25 inches (270x160mm) that were created sometime in the 1970's for the a French company Eutherapie and originally issued with their effervescent digestive medicinal product 'Atorel'. They appear to be a modern redrawing of the so-called Charles VI tarot from 1392, supposedly painted for him by an artist Jacquemin Gringonneur. As these do not appear to have been issued as a complete deck, one sometimes finds individual cards or sets of cards for sale. I had more or less given up trying to collect this deck, as I had only four cards, however a month or so back I managed to find a set of 12 cards and this weekend I found another 16 cards, and things have worked out so that I now have a complete set with quite a few duplicates to spare !
4th February 2007 Yesterday and today I spent a great deal of time printing out the limited edition cards for the next two tarots in my Art Tarot series. I will then send these out to the artists for them to sign them and once they are returned to me I will print the rest of the cards and then laminate, cut and make these up into decks and put them in their boxes. Then I will be able to announce these for sale. It could take another month depending on my workload, as I have so many other things to do apart from producing tarot decks. One of these decks was made in wonderfully unique black and white line drawings while the other is computer modified photo-collage by a master of the medium. Both are in Kaplan Volume IV as unpublished decks.
I am also working on another computer modified photo-collage deck which is equally astounding. This will take a little longer, I expect, as the artists have still to approve the sample printings. In the longer term I am negotiating with an artist to allow me to put their well known and almost universally admired tarot deck into print. So there are many more projects in the pipeline. Sales of my Art Tarot decks are quite slow, but in the longer term I am sure they will sell well and in time, hopefully, my Art Tarot series will be recognised as important tarot publications. I began this project in April 2006 and this first year has required considerable investment of my money and my time, but by April 2007 I should have published twelve decks, so all the work has been well worth it. If you would like to join the mailing list to get information by email about future publications and special offers, please email me at <firstname.lastname@example.org> or just click here
30th January 2007 A couple of weeks ago I brought up the theme of tarots with masks. Well, today I received a book I Tarocchi Veneziani published in Venice in 1981 as a limited edition of 800 copies. This book contains the 22 trumps of the tarot in black and white illustrations of etchings by Gianni Predieri with a text describing the tarot images by Gnargnic. These illustrations have the figures wearing those well known Venetian masks - all except the Fool who is unmasked. Tarots in books illustrations are often really amazing artworks. Some of the images are very strange, the Emperor and the Pope are depicted as empty and headless clothes.
26th January 2007 Yesterday, when I mentioned triangular tarot cards, I immediately received an email asking me to put up some images. So here are the first two of the Tarot de Autolectura of Gloria Landaeta published a few years ago in Santiago in Chile. The cards are quite large, about 6 inches (150mm) on each side. The cards seem to be designed by Tamara Diaz and Edgardo Cosgrove. They are Egyptian in conception and each card has the various correspondences with the planets, astrological signs, Hebrew letters, etc. It incorporates a complex system based on the chakras. Even the little white book is triangular!
25th January 2007 Most tarot decks are in standard playing card shape, essentially portrait format. There are a few round cards and even some ovals and even less triangles, but rectangular cards in landscape format are also rather difficult to find. This 22 card deck was given away with a Japanese magazine apparently in 2003. As with many of the Japanese furoku or free gift tarots, the artwork is really interesting and belies its give away status. Here we are being presented with images of classical Japan. The artist subtly links each image to the tarot arcana, here in the Fool, the Emperor and the Moon.
24th January 2007 Tarot never ceases to surprise and astound. Today's surprise occured when I was looking at the Erotica Tarot by Ylva Trollstierna. This is a black and white pen-drawn tarot from Sweden published in 2002. The drawings, most naturally of an erotic nature were made by Pierre Brawin, but with the designs inspired by the Astrologer/Mystic/Seer Ylva Trollstierna and Patrik Carlsson.
I had not looked closely at the Fool card before or taken in the details of its symbolism and was quite amazed at the image they had chosen to place there. The Fool perches precariously on a cliff. From beneath this cliff fiery flames lick up to make the Fool's situation even more dire. But it was not that what amazed me. It was the fact that they had chosen to depict the Fool as an hermaphrodite. Not only that, but one could clearly see that their androgyne Fool, despite being in a precarious situation, is masturbating both his/her male and female organs. Now that truly is imagination ! The Fool has many, many different images in tarot decks, but this particular one I found totally astounding.
22nd January 2007 Moi-même-Moitié is a well known Japanese Goth fashion label founded in 1999 and features the specific clothing styles which the founder Mana calls Elegant Gothic Lolita and Elegant Gothic Aristocrat. So what has this to do with tarot? Well, recently this company has issued a tarot deck promoting their clothes and general style. This seems to have been given away at some promotional event. I managed to acquire a copy. It is certainly a Goth deck of 78 cards (featuring photographs of the same female model posing in a wide variety of goth clothes), however, its qualification as a tarot is a bit tenuous. Each card is titled as a tarot card, and although in a number of the majors one can perceive some connection between the photograph and the tarot symbolism, for the minor and court cards I can find no obvious connection. But the deck certainly has style and is well worth collecting. 'Moi-même-Moitié' is an invented pseudo-French expression which could mean something like "Half of myself", "My other side" with the idea perhaps of dressing up and taking on another persona (here a goth one) in the tradition of Japanese cosplay (or dressing up play). The photographs are delightfully stylish and slightly diffused, and often heighten the contrast between the white made up face of the model and the dark clothing. Perhaps this is presenting Goth as 21st century Geisha.
20th January 2007 On thinking about established artists creating tarots, I remembered the now almost unknown early art tarot by the French artist Jean Bertholle (1909-1996), best known for his abstract oil paintings. This was created around 1949 in a cubist style as coloured woodcuts. These were based on the familiar Tarot of Marseilles, but here with the figures deconstructed into cubist forms. These were apparently intended to be published by Audin in Lyons, but whether this ever appeared I am unsure. The only record of these designs appears in the arts magazine Graphis for 1949 (issue No 26), a copy of which I was able to buy last year. Unfortunately these are uncoloured, but these must be amongst the earliest of art tarots - perhaps only preceeded by the Masjutin.
19th January 2007 Tarot art is not just the domain of the tarot enthusiast, as many established artists have turned their creative energies towards producing a tarot deck - usually just the Majors. This is especially true for Italian artists as there is a long tradition in Italy (I mean over the past 50 years) for making an art tarot. We can immediately think of Gentilini, Picini, Gianni Novak, Luciano Caruso, Franco Balan, Canosa, Capitani, Alessandro Baggi, Gambedotti, Mauro Garbarino, Guttuso, Prometti, Pitera, Viviani and many others known primarily as artists rather than as creators of tarot. I Tarocchi del ta Matete is a tarot by Ugo Nespolo, issued by the gallery Ta Matete in Rome in 2004 as a promotional pack for the exhibition 'Cinenespolo' by Nespolo. For his tarot Nespolo uses a restricted palette and also breaks the forms of the figures down into simple geometrical fragments.
This is apparently a difficult deck to find as it does not appear to have been sold but only given away at the opening of the exhibition.
14th January 2007 Also from my contact in Taiwan, I received the Maschera tarot. This has images of Venetian style masks set against the backdrop of the Grand Canal and other scences in Venice. I have no clear idea where this deck was published, but possibly in Taiwan or China. It reminded me that there are a number of Tarot decks produced on the theme of the mask. Here are four that immediately come to mind - Maschera, Masquerade Tarot by Martin, the Carnivale Tarot issued as a promo for the TV series, and Robyn Tisch-Hollister's Midnight Masquerade. Of course the mask also makes its appearance on many individual cards in Tarot decks.
13th January 2007 My contact in Taiwan has excelled herself and found me an early Taiwanese tarot. The date is uncertain and yet to be definitively determined but it is said to be from the mid 1980's. This 22 card deck is included as cut-out cards in the back of three volumes of graphic novels. The novels do not relate in any way to the cards and I must assume they were a free gift to encourage people to buy other novels in the series in order to collect the full deck. The deck itself appears to be named the Sea of Devils Tarot. I bought this rather expensive item because it would appear to be among the earliest of Taiwanese tarots. I have not seen an earlier one, so this could be among the first published Taiwanese tarots. More research needs to be done, but as I don't read Chinese this could be difficult. The images are set in a sort of Art Deco lozenge and show the inspiration of Art Nouveau organic forms. If this had not been clearly identified as being from Taiwan I would have assumed it was a 1980's Japanese deck. The faces are Western and the style predates the well known Japanese and Taiwanese manga art. Usually when I get a tarot created as cut-outs or press-outs in a book, I immediately cut or press it out so as to have it in the form of cards. In this case I will resist the temptation, as these three books surely will in time appreciate in value, as I doubt many have survived with the cards intact and even less found their way out of Taiwan to the West. This one goes immediately into my treasures chest.
12th January 2007 Last night I had a sudden inspiration about how to solve the problem I was having with the image for the backs of a black and white tarot I am planning to publish. I worked on till almost midnight and managed to implement this and today printed out some sample copies. The cards now look fine and I am happy with the result. Hopefully the artist will agree with me on this solution. This is a beautifully drawn black and white deck full of detailed symbolism. I was especially attracted to it by the way the artist has re-envisaged the tarot imagery within her unique vision.
11th January 2007 Worked today on one of the next lessons in my Study Course on the Artwork of Modern Tarot. Over the last few days I have been approached by some tarot artists who hope I might be able to make an edition of their recent deck in my Art Tarot series. Today I made up some sample cards and sent them off to them. Another deck I have been working on has a slight problem with the image for the card backs and I am awaiting a letter from the artist as to how we can sort out this minor problem. Today a rather fine Japanese tarot the Shiawase o Maneku Tarot, 1990, arrived in the post together with the Spheres tarot, both bought from one of my regular USA dealers. This is a strategy game from 1997 using tarot cards. The booklet that came with it presents, to my mind, an incredibly complex set of rules for this game, so much so that I seriously doubt that many people will ever have played the game with any pleasure. But the tarot images are quite interesting in themselves. The Majors are renamed and renumbered but instantly recognisable. The person who created the artwork seems to have been a bit obsessed with bodybuilder's defined muscular figures, both in men and women. It is amazing what turns up in tarot decks !
8th January 2007 Collecting tarot is always full of surprises, usually good ones. I recently bought the Tarocco del Tabacco published by Osvaldo Menegazzi in 1980. It arrived in a little green standard cardboard box, but on opening it I found a metal cigarette case. Within this was the set of 22 tarots based on tobacco related imagery redrawn by G. Scarsato. The cards were even bound with a mock cigar wrapper. It was an amazing concept. I wonder if Menegazzi and his company Il Meneghello of Milan had the whole edition of 1500 copies published in these cigarette cases.
4th January 2007 One of the tarots I published last year, the Tarot of the Sidhe by Emily Carding, was voted onto the top ten tarots published in 2006, by the Aeclectic forum members. When I first saw these designs I was very impressed by their quality and was pleased that Emily was keen to have me publish them, so it was good to see that my judgement was shared by others on the forum. Emily is working towards having a full 78 card deck published this year by an american publisher.
1st January 2007 Did some further work on one of the next tarots that I intend to publish in my Art Tarots series. I scanned in the final pieces of artwork that the artist has sent me and made some corrections and removed some background marks that had appeared on the images through the copying process. I will try and allocate some time over the next week to create a layout for the cards and then print out some samples for the artist's approval. This is a black and white pen drawn deck of images.
30th December 2006 This rather cute rip off coloured version of the Rosales Hello Tarot arrived this morning. A totally unauthorised and illegal rip off of a rip off, but rather nice to have.
28th December 2006 Sent out the recent lessons in my Study course on the artwork of modern tarot. I had to delay these a few days as they conflicted with the Christmas holiday, and who would want a study course lesson as a crissy present? After the temporary closure of the postal service over Christmas, deliveries have resumed and I received a packet of items from my best contact in Taiwan. Among these was a weird tarot with double-headed (and often double-bodied) figures. This deck is from a Taiwanese company called Rica-Chain which seems to produce educational and entertainment publications. Its title is difficult to render into English. One could title it Unlock your Secret tarot or alternatively Codes for reading your mind tarot.
22nd December 2006 I just got another black and white pen drawn tarot. This one is called Shattered Dreams of the Tarot and is by Lee Hickman. It is copied on rather flimsy paper and is in an edition of only 10 copies ! Now that is what I call a 'limited edition'. The artwork is based on comic art and some cards have a distinctive Goth style about them.
Yesterday my plan chest arrived in which I intend to store some of my collection for easy access. Unfortunately I put my back out struggling up the stairs to my apartment with it. Why do they send only one delivery person with heavy items? So I had to take to bed for a few hours and hope that no permanent damage is done. Once I get it set up it should solve my storage problems for a while, though there are still a lot of tarots out there tempting me, and it will fill up all too quickly. I estimate it will hold about 500 decks.
19th December 2006 The last few days I have acquired a number of interesting tarots. The Cynic's Tarot arrived yesterday. It is a book, published in 1981 in California, with 40 pages of text, and 78 full page tarot drawings. Kolyer's vision is certainly cynical, but strangely amusing and engaging. His Fool is shown watering a plant which like bindweed entwines around his body and strangles the life out of him. Thus his left hand, held aloft above his head, is withered, dying and turning to a skeleton. The High Priestess, naked under the Moon, has killed a bull and cut off his testicles which she holds up as a trophy. The Lovers shows the man and woman (with a tiger body) embracing each other. But he sticks a knife in her back while she tears his thigh with her claws. The Star is very amusing, and probably only someone with the weird vision of Kolyer could have thought of the image. Here we have a hand held up to the sky grasping at the stars, but it has been hit in the palm by a meteorite, a falling star, leaving a smoking hole. What a strange mind to have created within the limitations of the tarot structure. Powerful - certainly; disturbing - decidedly and humorous - definitely. There is perhaps a little of Ronald Crumb in the style of the drawings. He was the founder and one of the more prolific artists of the underground comics movement in the 1960's.
I have been waiting to buy a copy of this book for some years. This copy, the first to come into my hands, unfortunately seems to have belonged to someone who either burnt enormous quantities of incense, or somehow annointed their books with a mixture of rose and patchouli oils. I will have to leave this book open for a few months and hope this eventually evapourates.
13th December 2006 I have just received my latest Turkish Tarot, making three in all for my collection. This is the Astro tarot by Esin Uzer, produced in Istanbul in 2002. These cards are oil paintings of a new conception of the old Grimaud deck of 48 cards Le Tarot Astrologique, 1927, ascribed to Georges Muchery. It is interesting to see someone reworking this old non-standard 'tarot' deck, which is really a divination system based on astrology. Thus there are 36 cards which are the decanates of the twelve signs of the Zodiac - that is there are three cards for each sign the first covering 0-9 degrees, the second 10-19 degrees, and the third the final 20-29 degrees of the sign. In addition there are nine planet cards, with three others for the ascendant, descendant and the Partie de Fortune. The artwork for this deck is executed in oils, using light and brighter colours than the original Muchery. It is painted without outlines, thus uses the Muchery as a starting point rather than attempting to slavishly copy these earlier designs. This rather fine little deck comes with a book (in Turkish).
11th December 2006 Over the weekend I sent out the latest of the lessons in my study course on the Artwork of Modern Tarot. I also had some good luck and managed to win two decks that I had been trying to find for some time - the Minotarot and the Pendragon's Mother - both at very acceptable prices. Some of the rare early tarots are very expensive and so one has to just let some go in Ebay auctions and wait until one turns up that few other people have found. Sometimes the difficulty of finding things on Ebay works to ones advantage. At the same time I also acquired two cheap and perhaps, to some peoples minds, downmarket items. First I got one of those tarots that comes in a magazine as tear out cards. Some of the tarot purists don't seem to approve of these but I have quite a few now in my collection. Some of these are good quality art, but in any case they are valid representatives of modern tarot artwork, so I gather as many as I can. This particular one is from a German magazine called the Burda Modemagazin.
Another cheaper tarot item that I bought is not a tarot deck as such, but it has tarot imagery. It is a set of six trading cards issued to promote the Buffy television show. Apparently people buy sets of cards and only some of these contain this group, but you don't know when you buy it. Some enterprising Ebayers have consolidated these trading cards and sell off these six cards, the Ritual of Enjoining Cards, so it saves one the bother and frustration of buying a load of cards just to get this particaular set. I have no idea what it means in the context of the Buffy show, but the card images are totally tarot. They have strange names which doubtless means something to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer aficionados. Anyway they are, surely, worth the few pounds they are asking.
6th December 2006 Over the last few days I have come to realise that my collection of tarot decks has become totally unmanageable. I have tried various ways of storing decks so that I can easily find them but I have come to the conclusion that these methods have now broken down as it is becoming more and more difficult for me to immediately locate a deck I want to have access to. As I am making studies of the artwork it is becoming rather frustrating when I just cannot find a deck that I need to see. My first solution was to place these on the walls of my hall but these are now totally full and I am reluctant to use other rooms in which the wallspace is used for other emblematic imagery (I have 500 emblematic paintings I want to keep readily in view). So items are just piled up on available surfaces or are crammed into bookshelves where they immediately disappear. After a lot of thought and searching the internet for a solution, I finally came upon items of office furniture called 'plan chests' used by architects to store large plans and drawings in low drawers. These drawers are usually about 2 inches deep which more than adequately accommodates most decks lying flat. The A1 size of drawers should hold about 50 to 60 decks, so it should be easy to pull out a drawer, quickly glance at the boxes and find the deck I am looking for at that moment. For those decks that don't come in boxes, I have managed to find a supplier of standard sized cardboard boxes with a clear acetate lid, so that I can see which cards are inside. I have a good visual memory and use this all the time in my research. I don't have that kind of abstract memory which enables me just to put things in alphabetical order and merely recall the name of the deck. Often I instantly remember the designs of deck, but have to search my memory (often unsuccessfully) to find the name of the deck. This way in which I think and remember things means I need to be able to see items spread out before me. Hopefully, this plan chest idea will help a lot with this. The first one arrives in about two weeks. It should store about 400 decks. If successful I will probably have to buy another. An attrociously expensive solution!
4th December 2006 On BBC 2 television, here in the UK today, there is an antiques reality TV show in which people sell selected items at an auction. Part of the format of the show is a short slot in which the presenter visits someone with a special collection or some expertise in some antiques/collectables. In this show we had the pleasure of an extended interview with Cilla Conway, the artist and creator of the Intuitive Tarot (the one with the oval forms). She was allowed to give a short history of Tarot and to show example cards from four decks. It was really interesting to see her. The intuitive tarot appears in Kaplan III under its original name, the 'Cothic Tarot'.
2nd December 2006 My copy of Jean Beauchard's Le Tarot des Alchimistes finally arrived and it is quite wonderful. Beauchard, already well admired for his Masonic Tarot of 1987, has surpassed himself with his redrawing of various parts of alchemical engravings and woodcuts and integrating this symbolism into his whole conception. I noticed in the book which came with this deck that Jean Beauchard has in the past made a series of 22 serigraph (silk screen) prints with text made on anodised metal. I have never heard of this artwork before. I wonder if I can find out anything about this. I will probably have to write direct to Jean Beauchard.
1st December 2006 The final set of artwork arrived for a black and white tarot that I am planning to publish in my series. Over the next few weeks I will have to do the layout and make up a set of sample cards for the artist's approval. Hopefully, we will be able to move forward to publication in January or February at the latest. Finally, after a long wait and delay in the post I received Le Arcanes d'al Kemit, a strange 78 card Egyptian deck by Jen Paio, published in Switzerland in 2000 in a small edition. I had not heard of this before. Al Kemit seems to be a reference to alchemy and this work is probably based on the work of Isha i.e R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz. It is amazing what strange and obscure treasures still lie hidden in modern tarot.
30th November 2006 After a bit of discussion on Turkish tarots on the Aeclectic tarot forums I was alerted by a fellow collector to yet another Turkish Tarot, this one by Esin Uzer. So I ordered a copy of that. This brings my grand total of Turkish tarots to three. Today I have to work over my recent lesson in my study course, proofread it and check it for any errors. There are so many interesting ways of looking at modern tarot and I try and enthuse people through my course to find different perspectives and viewpoints into the artwork. I also managed to buy from one of my regular dealers, an obscure Mexican tarot which is now almost unknown. A few months ago I managed to acquire the Tarot de Acuario from 1971, which had strange surreal artwork. Mexico, strangely, does not seem to have produced many interesting tarots. I wonder why that can be.
29th November 2006 Last night I went to the post office to collect a packet. This turned out to be a Turkish tarot I had ordered. I already have a Turkish tarot which is a reprint of the Rider Waite deck with Turkish titles, so I was totally delighted to find that this new tarot is original artwork. These are pencil drawings with a later applied grey graphic wash to areas with some other components printed in gold. The drawings are signed "Akin" but I cannot find any details about the artist as the accompanying booklet is, naturally, in Turkish. These are published in Ankora, and come in a very fine and strong wood-veneered fibreboard box. Turkey must be the only Islamic country that allows Tarot cards, never mind actually produced some by local artists. This deck which we can probably call the Kurmay Tarot even has some nudity which I thought would be totally unacceptable in an Islamic country, but obviously Turkey is very progressive. I suppose the secularising influence of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk still inspires and develops in that country, even though he died nearly 70 years ago. Anyway here are some scans of cards from the 78 card deck. It is essentially a Rider Waite clone but with original artwork. The Minors are fully emblematic and substantially follow the familiar Coleman-Smith designs. There are some variations in the Majors and the Court cards.
28th November 2006 Today I was writing one of the final lessons in the first part of my Study Course on the Artwork of Modern Tarot. This study course has not yet attracted as many subscribers as have some of my other study courses on alchemical symbolism, but this is perhaps a new approach and many tarot enthusiasts are not yet sufficently interested in seeing modern tarot as an art form. If one looks on the internet one will find many courses available to help people use tarot for fortune telling or for personal development, but nothing on Tarot as art. Although I like being a pioneer and have spent many hundreds of hours working on the tarot course, I hope in time more people will take an interest in my approach.
I have sold ten copies of the Aleph tarot in the first three days. This helps greatly as I have had to output quite a large amount of money in order to make these available. Twenty six copies remain to sell.
25th November 2006 Spent much of today making up the labels on the boxes and checking the card decks for the Aleph Tarot. I then made up a page on my web site about the deck
and also wrote it up and sent information out on my Art Tarot mailing list. This is the ninth tarot I have produced to date. I think people will recognise that it is a truly beautiful deck and so rare that almost no one has heard of it. Well forty people will now have the opportunity of owning a copy. In the evening I received an email about another tarot which I am negotiating with the artist about, and hopefully I should have the artwork for this in a week or so.
24th November 2006 The remaining packages of the 1994 tarot deck that I had been waiting for arrived today. Also fortuitously, I received the boxes I had ordered for the deck, so all that remains is for me to design and print a label, make them up into the boxes and set up a web page to sell them. So I will try and do that over the weekend. It has been a bit of a financial risk for me but I think I will sell the forty copies quite quickly. Today was certainly a day for packages, as after a long wait for three months, I received a set of the Halloween Tarot on wood 'cards'. Being on thick wood it is quite unusual. The images are well printed, probably using an inkjet printer, but the surface is sealed with a thick varnish to protect it. Indeed, they so strongly smell of polyurethane that I will leave them out flat on a table for a few days and hope that the residual solvent dissipates. When these first appeared on Ebay they were hyped up and sold as a one-off unique deck, supposedly the personal property of an old psychic medium. This was a rather stupid strategy but now the company seem to have decided just to sell them as a standard product without the silly hype. I am pleased to have them, and understand the long wait as these are entirely hand made.
22nd November 2006 The first package of a batch of an amazing tarot deck arrived with the post. I have bought from the artist the remaining copies of a limited edition deck produced in 1994. These have not been on the market for some time and most collectors do not seem to know about this deck. It is a Majors only deck and the artwork is wonderful. I was so taken by the power of the deck when I first saw it that I am so pleased to be able now to make it available to others. These I intend to sell as number 9 of my Art Tarot series. There are only 50 copies remaining and I will keep 10 for my archives and sell the other 40. I have ordered boxes for the decks and as soon as I get them I will announce this on my web site. It is a real treasure.
21st November 2006 Today I received a black and white tarot deck, majors only with Spanish titles. I cannot identify this deck and no documentation came with it. I looked for a signature or date on the drawings but could find none. Maybe someone could assist me with this. I will post out a request onto Aeclectic Tarot forum as someone there is sure to know it. The Cards are numbered with the values of the associated Hebrew letters, thus 0, 1, 2, ..., 10, 20, 30,..., 100, 200. The Magician, here called the 'Prestidigitator' (manipulator) is shown producing a dove.
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