Rider-Waite Tarot has set the standard for hundreds of other tarot decks, which follow the archetypal images created by Pamela Colman Smith in 1909 under the direction of Arthur Edward Waite. This edition includes Smith’s original hand drawn titles.
“A unique feature of the Rider-Waite deck, and one of the of the principal reasons for its enduring popularity, is that all of the cards, including the Minor Arcana, depict full scenes with figures and symbols. Prior to the Rider-Waite Tarot, the pip cards of almost all tarot decks were marked only with the arrangement of the suit signs — swords, wands, cups, and coins, or pentacles. The pictorial images on all the cards allow interpretations without the need to repeatedly consult explanatory text. The innovative Minor Arcana, and Pamela Colman Smith’s ability to capture the subtleties of emotion and experience have made the Rider-Waite Tarot a model for the designs of many tarot packs.” — (from The Encyclopedia of Tarot, Volume III)
Rider-Waite Tarot was named one of the Top Ten Tarot Decks of All Time by Aeclectic Tarot.
Pamela Colman Smith
Born February 16, 1878, in Middlesex, England to American parents, Smith’s childhood years were spent between London, New York, and Kingston, Jamaica. During her teens, she traveled throughout England with the theatre company of Ellen Terry and Henry Irving. Thereafter, she began formal art training at Pratt Institute of Brooklyn, graduating in 1897.
Smith returned to England, where she became a theatrical designer for miniature theatre, and an illustrator — mainly of books, pamphlets and posters. Around 1903, she joined the Order of the Golden Dawn. In 1909, under the guidance of Arthur Edward Waite, she undertook a series of seventy-eight allegorical paintings described by Waite as a rectified tarot pack. The designs, published in the same year by William Rider and Son, exemplify the mysticism, ritual, imagination, fantasy, and deep emotions of the artist.