I believe it was found in an antiquarian bookshop in Cheshire. That’s what I was told by the person who sold it to me. I always like to know the provenance of the things I love, and being given the opportunity to own a 1910 Pam B Rider Waite Smith Tarot is not something to be sniffed at. The previous owner found it many years ago and with a vague interest in tarot and the occult, realised it was an old deck, bought it and kept it in the drawer of the bureau for years. I had tried to buy one before but was outbid (and secretly relieved), but then with a bit of spare cash a couple of years ago I permitted myself the luxury and decided to buy one that came up, paying way more than I have ever paid for any other tarot deck. It was only afterwards that I realised I had bought it in December 2009, and the Rider Waite Smith deck was first published in December 1909. I had finally laid my hands on one the very day, perhaps, that this most famous tarot in the world officially became an antique.
It has been lovingly used by past owners and I hope to continue the tradition. It is complete, intact, even has the spare blank card and the (now sadly battered and lid-less) box plus the companion copy of A.E Waite’s Key to the Tarot (with the first page missing which may or may not have contained a date). Taking it out and handling it, reading with it, simply looking at it, studying the colours is a joy. I truly feel that I have my nose pressed right up against the front line of tarot history. To do a reading with it, a three card spread or even a one card draw, I feel that each reading brings a little of something from all the readings which stretch over the past century. How many have asked these cards about love? How many have scoffed at what they seemed to say, only to be proved wrong? How many deaths and births have these cards predicted? Is it a copy that Pamela Colman Smith or A.E Waite or Yeats or Crowley touched, if only fleetingly? At what point in its journey was the lid lost or squashed? And now it comes to rest with me. Funny, after buying this deck, it is as if it is the deck to end all decks. No other tarot acquisition has excited me quite so much, and nothing else could ever live up to the thrill of having my own copy of this for reference, at hand, whenever I need it.