Pamela Coleman Smith
Tarot cards designed to accompany Arthur Edward Waite’s Pictorial Key to the Tarot (1910)
Deck printed 1937
Cary Collection of Playing Cards
Because of her lifelong interest in the occult, in 1909 Arthur Edward Waite invited Smith to collaborate with him on the design for a deck of tarot cards. Waite worked closely with Smith on the design for the “face” cards, or the Major Arcana cards; but Smith alone created the images for the “number,” or Minor Arcana, cards. Until this time, the Minor Arcana tarot cards were generally decorated with abstract forms or were not illustrated. Thus, Smith’s images became the model for many deck designs that followed. Though there are countless illustrated tarot decks in the world, Smith’s deck is among the most widely recognized and the most often reproduced.