ETA 11 Sep, 2018: This was posted on Seer Pathways in October 2014. I’m in the process of transferring posts from old blogs.
I already have the Pictorial Key Tarot, the Centennial Pamela Coleman Smith Tarot and the various RWS clones so I asked myself ‘Do I really need Lewellyn’s Classic Tarot deck?’ I think my trigger finger decided that I did, because after I realised I had placed the order I still asked myself ‘Do I really need this deck?’… with the addition ‘WTF just happened?’ Has that ever happened to you?
Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot arrived a few days ago and I only got around to unwrapping it this evening. One of the reasons I delayed is that, as usual with Llewellyn deck and book sets, I knew that once I had unwrapped the cards, I would have nowhere to put the deck. It’s a shame Llewellyn can’t get their act together and provide a proper inner box (or at least a bag – if they must) to keep the deck in because all other aspects of their deck and book sets are really sleek and nifty. ETA: since this is for the 2014 edition of the deck and since there was a new edition released in 2017, this may well have changed since so many people complained about it!
I have seen several reviews complain about how flimsy the Llewellyn Tarot decks have become. I happen to like the thinner card stock. It has a silky smooth feel to it and shuffles really easily. Perhaps those who complain about the quality of the card stock have yet to discover a shuffling technique that doesn’t scuff or bend the cards? I recommend a gentle sideways riffle… but to each their own!
Anyway, basically, what you have here is an RWS clone that is just as ‘cartoonish’ as the original Waite Smith deck. This surprises me. I can understand creating an RWS clone with digital artwork like Lo Scarabeo’s Pictorial Key Tarot… but creating another clone using drawings that are cartoonish without being iconic (like PCS’s work)… what is the actual reason behind that? Because, let’s face it, the only criticism people seem to have against the original is that it is cartoonish.
Don’t get me wrong, I quite like the images and the card backs are really lovely. But the one thing I would desire from a modern RWS clone is more lively faces. Real personality, with eyes that glitter and facial expressions that give you an idea of who the court cards are. That sort of thing. My biggest disappointment among the LCT courtiers is the squint-eyed Queen of Cups. She needs to have large, dreamy eyes. Sigh.
I’ll let you decide for yourself if the artwork by Eugene Smith speaks to you or not and have included a few sample images below:
The main advantage compared to the Waite Smith deck IMO is that these cards are borderless – That’s always good! But for truly imaginative readings, I need a deck with faces that are a bit more life-like. So far, my favourite court cards are found in the Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan – a deck I would recommend for beginners as it is very close to standard RWS symbology but more vibrant and imaginative.
The companion book is essentially a rehash of information that is already out there which, to be frank, is pretty much what I expected since Barbara Moore keeps putting out several Tarot companion books a year. That’s not to say it’s of no value at all. But if you already have an extensive Tarot library, you probably don’t need this book.
This deck and book set gets 3 out 5 stars from me.
ETA Sep, 2018: I have since sold this deck on eBay – It just wasn’t doing it for me. There is now a borderless Smith-Waite Tarot (Centennial style) by US Games that I would recommend if you want a traditional RWS deck without the borders.
Love and Blessings,