Friday, October 16, 2015

Review: Angel Tarot (Stuart R. Kaplan)

Angel Tarot: Stuart R.Kaplan
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A Unique Deck, the Angel Tarot Has No Angels!


By Joodhe


I am especially drawn to more modern decks with a feel; the Angel Tarot hasn't been in my possession very long, but quickly it has become a favorite. It is an interesting specimen, partly due to its name. The name suggests that it should be chock full of images of winged creatures in gauzy robes, enveloped in nimbi; but that's not what it's about. In a sense, the deck's title is a misnomer, as it was simply given the name of the company that first published it - Japan's Angel Manufacturing Company. Oddly enough, this now out of print deck is not attributed to an author.

This deck has non scenic minors, but with the addition of a remarkably unique feature. Within each minor arcana image, you will find symbols of the corresponding playing card suit - clubs for wands, spades for swords, hearts for cups, and diamonds for pentacles. This a nifty bonus for tarot enthusiasts such as myself, who enjoy performing readings with regular playing cards as well as the tarot.

Angel Tarot: Stuart R.Kaplan
The images are amazing, some cards are in ways reminiscent of some of the old woodcut tarots - not strongly, but you can see where they descended from. The colors used are earthy and grounded, certainly not traditional colors for this style of deck. At first it brought to mind the 1JJ Swiss, the connection made between the two was probably just due to a similar overall energy that I feel from each, as the images and titles of the 1JJ are far different than those of this pack. A commonality beyond their energies though, is that both decks have a playing card feel to images of the lower arcana. Aw heck, I know I'll get flack from some for mentioning the 1JJ and this pack in the same sentence... I see it like this - yes, wine is good n'all, but sometimes you need a glass of beer, good old Kool-Aid, or even plain water. And that one may develop a strong taste for wine, doesn't mean that Kool-Aid isn't as or more satisfying to some.

But anyway...the cardstock has a very nice feel; kind of silky. I haven't used mine much yet, but some edges show chips; this may suggest that the deck will break down fast with regular use, but maybe not either; I find that cards with deeper colored backs pretty much always show edge chips, whether they wear well or not.

Angel Tarot: Stuart R.Kaplan

The backs look much like those of the RWS, but with a heavy saturation of butterscotch coloring as the background. There was a later printing of the Angel Tarot with different backs - much fancier. That one had a deep golden background with a black and red fleur de lys design over it.

Below I am adding in a photo of the other printing; an eBay seller let me have it from a completed listing. You can see the difference in backs; I haven't seen the fronts of the other printing in person, therefore do not know whether the coloration of the images is the same in both decks. But judging from the printing I have and the eBay image, their appearance is at least remarkably close.

Angel Tarot: Stuart R.Kaplan
This deck, my friends, is a keeper, at least in my eyes; decks in my collection come and go, but I can guarantee I'll have this one until such a day as my eyes close for the last time. I found it when I first began reading with playing cards; it irritated me that there weren't enough courts to work with, I wanted something to bridge the gap, you know I wanted to read with playing cards, but with both the Page and the Knight present. Well, though this deck bridges the gap, it brought me right back to reading with tarot rather than playing cards ::::::laughs::::::; I still love it.

On a final note, I wish to point out that historically speaking, the colors used in the making of this deck would doubtlessly have many traditionalists up in arms (admittedly I'm no expert on the topic, but common sense would dictate). However, my beliefs embrace whichever traits belong to any deck that resonates with me; that means whatever colors it has are just fine.

Dated: 1980; U.S. Games has held the copyright to it since this time as well.
Distributed by: U.S. Games.
Copyright holder: U.S. Games.
Printed by: Angel Manufacturing Co., Japan.
Author: No author credited.
Titling: Atypical for Marseilles type decks, more typical of modern (RWS style) tarots.
Backs: Reversible.
Instructions: Basic LWB.

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