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ΚΚΚΚΚ ΚΚΚΚΚ ΚΚΚΚΚ ΚΚΚΚΚ ΚΚΚΚΚ ΚΚΚΚΚ ΚΚ

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Crowley's "Thoth" Tarot
Edition Comparison Table

The "Thoth Tarot" created by Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris is one of the bestselling and most beloved tarots in the world. While Lady Harris finished work on the original paintings in the 1940s, the illustrations were not available in actual "card form" until the 1960s.

According to Stuart Kaplan in The Encyclopedia of Tarot, vol. III, p. 152, the very first "card" edition of the Thoth deck was published by the Simpson Printing Company (later to become the Harp Printing Company), which reproduced the illustrations from Crowley and Harris' limited edition book, The Book of Thoth. The cards were printed with blue ink on the front and red ink on the back, and has been dubbed “The Sangreal One-Color Tarot.”

With interest in tarot continuing to increase through the 1960s, it is no surprise that a few major publishers finally took notice. The first full-color edition of the Thoth was (according to Kaplan) issued in 1969 by Samuel Weiser. Subsequent printings followed, although due to the lack of date information on many editions, it is difficult to establish an exact timeline of what was published when. Kaplan's company, U.S. Games Systems, published their first edition of the Thoth Tarot in either 1977 or 1978 (vol.. III of Kaplan's Encyclopedia gives 1977 as the first edition of the USG Thoth, but the copyright on the enclosed booklet shows 1978). Llewellyn Publications also issued one, possibly two, editions of the Thoth, although the exact dating of the Llewellyn printing(s) is elusive. It appears likely, but not absolutely certain, that Llewellyn released their Thoth deck between the Weiser and USG editions.

Sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, U.S. Games reissued the Thoth deck with a different box and improved printing techniques. Around the same time, A.G. Müller of Switzerland appears to have released their first edition of the Thoth. Since that time, many printing companies worldwide have issued editions of the Thoth deck in their own sizes and languages.

The table below provides information on Thoth editions that are or have been available in North America. It is likely incomplete, although it should include all of the major editions that have been available in the U.S. since 1969. Date information is provided where available. Distinguishing characteristics, such as the style of the box, the card borders, and the "8 of Cups" misprint are noted. Sample scans are available for each. Pictures of the boxes of each edition (reduced to 50% of actual size) appear to the left of the data for each listing. At present, no foreign language editions (with the exception of the USG "White Box" 3-language edition) or variants are included. Also, no attempt has been made to include any of the numerous numerous independent printings and recreations (such as the Japanese foil Thoth), reworkings (such as the Liber T: Tarot of Stars Eternal), and Thoth-based variants (such as the Haindl Tarot). We may begin to include some of these related editions in the future, if our time and energy permits.

Corrections and additions to this table are welcome and encouraged; direct correspondence to Jeannette Roth at jkr@tarotgarden.com.


The Tarot Garden
Library

Editions of the Crowley "Thoth" Tarot


An examination of the distinctive edition characteristics of the popular "Thoth" tarot by Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris.

Box

Designation / Publication Info / Measurements

Box Description

Card Titles

Card Borders Face / Back

Notes

Link to card samples

"White Box A"

Published by Llewellyn. No publication date indicated.

Cards measure 3.75" x 5.5" (9.5 cm x 14 cm).

Two-piece box - white cover with gold "body" box. Box text is printed in gold ink.

Two editions appear to have been published by Llewellyn. Publication information on the side of the box says "Published by Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, Minn. 55165 U.S.A." Furthermore, one printing reads "Printed in Hong Kong," the other "Printed in the U.S.A."

Card suit ("Trumps" for the majors) printed in large, light letters, with card title (majors, courts) or keyword (minors) superimposed in medium-size type. The contrast between the two overlapping typefaces is poor, making the titles difficult to read. No Hebrew letters or astrological symbols are present.

Unornamented borders on the card faces.

No border strip on the card backs.

There are two misprints in at least one of the Llewellyn editions: 1) The number "8" is missing from the top of the "8 of Cups" card. 2) The illustration for the "Ace of Pentacles" card is printed upside-down.

Tarot Garden Database Samples

"White Box B"

Published by Samuel Weiser. No publication date indicated, but dated as1969 by Stuart Kaplan in his "Thoth" entry in the Encyclopedia of Tarot, vol. III.

Cards measure 3.75" x 5.5" (9.5 cm x 14 cm).

Two-piece box - white cover with gold "body" box. Box text is printed in black ink. Publication information on the side of the box says "Distributed by Samuel Weiser, 734 Broadway, N.Y. 10003; Printed in U.S.A."

Card suit ("Trumps" for the majors) printed in large, light letters, with card title (majors, courts) or keyword (minors) superimposed in medium-size type. The contrast between the two overlapping typefaces is poor, making the titles difficult to read. No Hebrew letters or astrological symbols are present.

Unornamented borders on the card faces.

No border strip on the card backs.

The hue of the card borders is not consistent throughout the deck, although it is difficult to say with certainty if this is due to inferior printing techniques, or because of age-related fading.

Tarot Garden Database Samples

"White Box C"

Published by U.S. Games Systems. Booklet for the Tarot Garden Library copy reads "copyright 1978, 1983." The Encyclopedia of Tarot, vol. III, also shows a few samples of the White Box edition, and cites a publication date of 1986.

Cards measure 3.75" x 5.5" (9.5 cm x 14 cm).

Standard cardboard box with top flap opening. Box text is printed in red and black ink. Publication information on the top of the box reads "Published and Distributed by U.S. Games Systems, Inc., New York, N.Y. 10016; Cards printed in Belgium."

Card suit ("Trumps" for the majors) printed in large, light letters, with card title (majors, courts) or keyword (minors) superimposed in small-size type. The contrast between the two overlapping typefaces is improved over the white box "A" and "B" editions, making the titles easier to read. Titles on the majors are flanked by a Hebrew letter on the left, and an alchemical or astrological symbol on the right.

Card faces ornamented with the "line pattern."

No border strip on the card backs.

This edition is often referred to as the "green Thoth," due to the significant green tint to the card borders, and general "greenish" cast to the images. Later editions moved to a gray-ish border, and exhibit less of a "green shift" in the image reproduction.

A three-language edition and a four-language edition of the "C" variant were published. In the three-language edition, English titles appear at the center bottom, French titles in the upper left corner, and Spanish titles in the upper right corner. The four-language edition is the same as the three-language edition, except that German titles were added at the top of the left-hand border.

Tarot Garden Database Samples - standard edition

Tarot Garden Database Samples - 3-language edition

"Green Box"

Published by U.S. Games Systems.. Booklet for the Tarot Garden Library copy reads "copyright 1978, 1983." These copyrights would appear to apply to the booklet text, however, and seem to have nothing to do with the edition publication date, which, based on the information presented in Kaplan's Encyclopedias, would likely have been sometime after 1986.

Cards measure 3.75" x 5.5" (9.5 cm x 14 cm).

Standard cardboard box, showing the Two of Pentacles card surrounded by a green border. Publication information on the top flap of the box reads "Deck printed in Belgium; U.S. GAMES SYSTEMS, INC.; Stamford, CT 06902 USA."

Card suit ("Trumps" for the majors) printed in large, light letters, with card title (majors, courts) or keyword (minors) superimposed in small-size type. The contrast between the two overlapping typefaces is improved over the white box "A" and "B" editions, making the titles easier to read. Titles on the majors are flanked by a Hebrew letter on the left, and an alchemical or astrological symbol on the right.

Card faces ornamented with the "line pattern."

Card backs exhibit a thin whitish-gray border strip at the edges.

Reports indicate that the earliest printings of the USG "Green Box" edition suffered from the same "green border, green cast" quality of the White Box C editions. At some indeterminate point in the reprint history, however, the border hue was changed over to the gray hue that is now the standard for both the USG and AGM editions.

Tarot Garden Database Samples

"Purple Box"

Published by U.S. Games Systems. Booklet for the Tarot Garden Library copy reads "copyright 1978, 1983, 1987." These copyrights would appear to apply to the booklet text, however, and seem to have nothing to do with the edition publication date, which, based on the information presented in Kaplan's Encyclopedias, would likely have been sometime after 1987.

Cards measure 4.75" x 3.375" (7 cm x 11 cm)

Standard cardboard box, showing the Two of Pentacles card surrounded by a purple border. Publication information on the top flap of the box reads "Deck printed in Belgium; U.S. GAMES SYSTEMS, INC.; Stamford, CT 06902 USA."

Card suit ("Trumps" for the majors) printed in large, light letters, with card title (majors, courts) or keyword (minors) superimposed in dark, small-size type. The contrast between the two overlapping typefaces is improved over the white box "A," "B" and "C" editions, making the titles easier to read than any of its white-box predecessors. Titles on the majors are flanked by a Hebrew letter on the left, and an alchemical or astrological symbol on the right.

Card faces ornamented with the "line pattern."

Card backs exhibit a thin whitish-gray border strip at the edges.

This is the only edition, as of this writing (9 December 2005) that still retains the inclusion of the three variants of the "Magus" card.

Tarot Garden Database Samples

"Large Swiss Blue Box A" (early edition)

Published by A.G. Müller, 1986

Cards measure 3.75" x 5.5" (9.5 cm x 14 cm)

Standard cardboard box, showing the Magus card, left-aligned, surrounded by a blue border. The deck title appears below the illustration. Publication information at the top and side of the box reads "The Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot / © 1986 by AGMüller, CH-Neuhaussen.

Card suit ("Trumps" for the majors) printed in large, light letters, with card title (majors, courts) or keyword (minors) superimposed in dark, small-size type. The contrast between the two overlapping typefaces is improved over the white box "A," "B" and "C" editions, making the titles easier to read than any of its white-box predecessors. Titles on the majors are flanked by a Hebrew letter on the left, and an alchemical or astrological symbol on the right.

Card faces ornamented with the "line pattern."

Card backs exhibit a thin whitish-gray border strip at the edges.

Previously preferred to the USG editions because it lacked the "green tint" problems, the cards of the AGM "Large Swiss Blue Box" edition are now barely distinguishable from the current USG "Green Box" edition.

This edition contained the three different renditions of the "Magus" card.

Tarot Garden Samples

"Large Swiss Blue Box B" (later edition)

Published by A.G. Müller. No publication or copyright information for this edition is indicated.

Cards measure 3.75" x 5.5" (9.5 cm x 14 cm)

Standard cardboard box, showing the Magus card surrounded by a blue border. The deck title appears above the illustration, and the publisher's name appears below. Publication information at the bottom of the box back reads "© 1944, 1962 OTO International/AGM, Switzerland."

Card suit ("Trumps" for the majors) printed in large, light letters, with card title (majors, courts) or keyword (minors) superimposed in dark, small-size type. The contrast between the two overlapping typefaces is improved over the white box "A," "B" and "C" editions, making the titles easier to read than any of its white-box predecessors. Titles on the majors are flanked by a Hebrew letter on the left, and an alchemical or astrological symbol on the right.

Card faces ornamented with the "line pattern."

Card backs exhibit a thin whitish-gray border strip at the edges.

Previously preferred to the USG editions because it lacked the "green tint" problems, the cards of the AGM "Large Swiss Blue Box" edition are now barely distinguishable from the current USG "Green Box" edition.

This edition does NOT contain the three different renditions of the "Magus" card.

Tarot Garden Database Samples

"Pocket Swiss Blue Box"

Published by A.G. Müller. No publication or copyright information for this edition is indicated.

Cards measure 2.25" x 3.5" (6.7 cm x 9 cm)

Standard cardboard box, showing the Magus card surrounded by a blue border. Publication information at the bottom of the box back reads "© 1944, 1962 OTO International/AGM, Switzerland."

Card suit ("Trumps" for the majors) printed in large, light letters, with card title (majors, courts) or keyword (minors) superimposed in dark, small-size type. The contrast between the two overlapping typefaces is improved over the white box "A," "B" and "C" editions, making the titles easier to read than any of its white-box predecessors. Titles on the majors are flanked by a Hebrew letter on the left, and an alchemical or astrological symbol on the right.

Card faces ornamented with the "line pattern."

Card backs exhibit a thin whitish-gray border strip at the edges.

Tarot Garden Database Samples


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