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Oswald Wirth Tarot Majors, 1889 & 1926


Image of Oswald Wirth Tarot Majors, 1889 & 1926
  • Image of Oswald Wirth Tarot Majors, 1889 & 1926
  • Image of Oswald Wirth Tarot Majors, 1889 & 1926

Wirth only produced tarot majors, never a full 78-card deck. These are his originals.

In the preface to his book, "Le Tarot, des lmagiers du Moyen" published in Paris in 1926 and translated into English as "The Tarot of the Magicians" by Samuel Weiser in 1985, Wirth attributes his blossoming knowledge of tarot to another young occultist, Stanislas de Guaita. Guaita admired Wirth's artistic talents and "advised [him] to restore the 22 arcanas to their hieroglyphic purity... The ideal to be realized demands a perfect unity of symbolism, so that everything fits into the 22 compositions, which must throw light upon each other and must contain no arbitrary detail which is not justified."

The product of this first effort came to fruition in 1889.

By the 1920s Wirth's knowledge of the tarot had matured. His later effort resulted in images that were richly redrawn into illustrations with colors altered to conform with his expanded knowledge. A few details and colors changed somewhat and Eros in the Lovers card was unmasked. The results were a sumptuous feast for the eyes..

The 1926 images appeared in a supplement to his original book.

These cards are genuine facsimiles of the original drawings from the supplement to that book. No alterations to the lines or colors so you don't have anyone's interpretation of the original artist's intentions.

In Wirth's book he has a chapter devoted to the symbolism of the colors he used in the cards. I find it interesting that in the 1889 rendition the flesh of Fool and the Papesse is gray (or is it silver?) instead of rose (his description of flesh tones) and that these two are depicted as having typical flesh tones in the later version. The symbology of the color gray in the book is "ashes, indestructible remains of what has lived, inertia, indifference, humility, sadness ,,, " while silver is "moral perfection, treasures of the soul, justified beliefs, nobility of heart, purity of the imagination." The images beg 2 questions: Which color did he intend for them (gray or silver)? and What changed in his interpretations for his later images?

The cards are printed tarot card size, 2-3/4" x 4-3/4" and offered on linen or smooth stock.