Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg Review

This is my review of the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg, which as I'm writing this I still consider my home deck.  You'll notice in the photos and video that my deck is quite worn and that is because I purchased this deck back in 1999 or 2000 and for over a decade it was the sole deck that I read with.  The author of this deck is typically credited as Cynthia Giles and the illustrator is Yury Shakov, though there are sources that credit him as the author as well but I do believe that Giles wrote the little white book that came with the deck. (I've lost mine so I can't check.)  I've also seen different sources cite the deck as being published in different years over a decade apart.  My deck has the date 1992 on the cards and it was published by U.S. Game Systems Inc.

There's actually a little bit of mystery surrounding this deck's creation. The deck features Russian themes done as miniature paintings surrounded by a frame in a Faberge style.  The cards feature Russian people and fairy tales.  They were done as a series of miniature paintings.  Sharkov sketched all 78 cards but he only finished one painting before his death.  The rest of the deck was painted by an unknown Russian artist, which I find a bit odd for a deck that came out in the '90's.  Despite the fact that this is a Russian deck done by Russian artists the deck is completely in English.

The deck is done in the Rider Waite Smith system with 22 cards in the major arcana and 56 in the minor arcana which is broken into four suits (clubs, coins, swords, cups).  While the art is definitely distinctly Russian it does follow the themes and symbols of the RWS very closely and is a good deck for beginners or for those who like the RWS system but want something a little different.  Those who read a little more intuitively from the artwork on their cards will find this rich artwork full of things to trigger their intuition.

There are a couple of trump cards that I like to show in my reviews partly because I just think they are some of the more iconic cards.  The Lovers and The Devil are pretty stunning in this deck and are very similar to the RWS.  Death does not resemble the horseback figure in the RWS deck but it is a powerful image that does convey a definitive ending of something.

This deck is not reversible, the art on the backs is painted to go in one direction.  My one criticism of this deck is that the edges became worn very quickly but the deck has held up over all and the card stock is pretty sturdy to hold up after all these years.

If you'd like to see all 78 of the cards you can check out my flip through video here.

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