I'm assuming you're at least a little like me. You like a
lot of decks. You don't have unlimited money. You have
limited time to investigate.
If that's true, then these tips will help. I know. I've
already made all the mistakes any one human can possibly
make while collecting, so just read for a few minutes and
save yourself a lot of grief.
1. Know why you collect
Why do you collect? Are you searching for the perfect
reading deck? Are you a fan of certain kinds of artwork? Are
you interested in Tarot history? Are you an eclectic
collector - just picking what suits your fancy? Are you an
investor? Do you want some "study" decks?
When I started, I just acquired. I didn't have a focus. I
ended up with dozens of decks that, in retrospect, don't
really interest me.
Now I know that I like decks based on specific artists
(Bosch, Dali, Klimt, Dürer, Blake - there are many of
these) and Tarot de Marseille style decks. I like some
decks because the artwork is just so spectacular. I'm
not providing you with examples because there are
many of these, and if I leave out someone, I'll just feel
bad about it. Plus, my taste might not match yours.
What has happened is that after being able to articulate
what decks I really like, I don't acquire as many decks
that end up just sitting somewhere, unloved. By knowing
why you collect, you can narrow your search and keep
your collection to the decks that matter to you.
2. The Only-If-You-Like-It Rule
If you like it, someone else will like it. Know how many
were made. Keep the box and the lwb ("little white
book") in good shape. Jot down the price you paid and keep
it somewhere safe. (I take the sales slip and put it into a
ring binder, alphabetically by the deck name.)
3. Manage the Money
Use a separate credit card for your collecting. Learn how to
force PayPal to use the card, not your bank account. [Email
When I sell a deck, I put the money into our credit card
account. Our "Collecting Credit Card" becomes a complete
4. The "Two-Deck-Buying System"
Purchase two of every deck you acquire. Keep one in its
original packaging; don't open it. Wait until the deck is
selling for twice its original price. Sell the unopened one.
You can keep the other. In effect, you're collecting for
"free." Will this always work? No. Sometimes you'll just
end up with a deck you can use as a gift. But many times
you'll end up selling the second one for twice OR MORE of
what it cost you - so your collection grows for free.
5. The "Speculator System"
Buy several of a deck you suspect will be very popular. Sell
as the price increases. Trust yourself.
6. Protect the collection
Keep your inventory list online as well as at home.
Notify your home insurance carrier and pay the tiny rider as
your collection grows.
Is it in a safe place? Some people keep their collecting
a secret to minimize risk. I have a pot-bellied pig who
lives in my house. He weighs 110 pounds, has tusks, and we
have a sign that says "Beware of the Attack Pig."
Mildew and mold are contagious. Do not bring a sick deck
into a healthy collection.
7. Know a little terminology
Terms to know:
vintage, antique, ISBN, lwb, iso, lot, oop, and htf.
UPS, FedEx and USPS. International shipping
(Find a good post on this by user "photokat" on
section for deck collecting and trading.)
USPS will ship, tracked, for about $5-6 in the lower 48. If
value is over $100, pay for the insurance. [If I meet you
personally, ask me about the box I got through the
Springfield, Mass., U.S. Postal automated sorting facility
that went through the gears. Don't be put off by my sobbing,
OK? Just buy me a drink.] Amazon includes information on
their listings, especially publisher, year and ISBN. They
list OOP and HTF decks.
8. Find the best price for a deck
Try multiple sources before buying. (= "Shop around").
Use a Wish List
Be sure your Tarot friends know what deck is at the top of
your Wish List.
- Offer to trade.
- Offer to buy.
- Post "ISO" ("in search of") where you can make
sure you know what your friends are currently seeking.
- Let people know you collect and are interested in decks.
Try Tarot organizations
- Try Facebook groups
- Try other online groups
Contact the publisher and sign up for email notifications
[New, deals, newsletter, Facebook announcements.]
Try major resellers:
Try independent sellers:
- craigslist.com (check your local listings)
9. Where do I find really old decks?
[This is the same as asking "Where do I find really
Auctions! Find out the local ones. If you don't know that
you can use Google Maps or MapQuest to find them, you're in
for a nice surprise: Try typing "boston, ma auction"
into the search and see what happens.
~ Bassenge ~ Christie's ~ Bonhams ~ Sothebys
~ Freeman's ~ Leonard Joel
- Use duckduckgo.com to search "Auction House"
for a starter list.
http://fineart.about.com/od/AuctionHouses/tp/Fine-Art-Auction-Houses-EstablishedAuction-Houses-For-The-Fine-Arts.htm for a list of 11 fine arts
Auction houses have an email list and can notify you when a
particular item is scheduled. You do not need to be present
to win the auction, but if you like getting dressed up and
going out for the day - to New York or London or Paris -
well, then, this is your métier. Tell your local antiques
dealer that you're interested in hearing about any decks she
or he might come across.
10. Know where to find information about Tarot decks
- duckduckgo.com (a better search engine for Tarot than Google)
(An article on collecting)
- Try the foreign eBay sites: eBay.fr, eBay.co.uk, eBay.it
and don't forget India (they are very active) eBay.in.
If you use Google's Chrome browser, you can get the pages
translated into your language. If you want to use another
browser, like Firefox, you can get a plugin for translating
- Learn how to "save searches" on eBay.
- Learn how to set your eBay to search internationally for
all listings that will ship to you.
- Don't be afraid to contact a seller who does not list
"shipping to US" as an option.
Learn who your favorite sellers are (mine is "photokat"
and "worldclassplayingcards"). You'll find photokat
(Beatrice Neumann) on both tarotforum.net and eBay.
See what others have done:
- tarotbyparis.com (Paris Finley's site)
- Use duckduckgo.com to search Tarot Deck Collection
Caveat Emptor ("Let the buyer beware!")
Some "sellers" simply search major sources and return
the search results as their own. Check your major sources
first before trying small, private sellers. For example,
outofprint.com is an Alibris reseller. So is buytarotcards.net/
-- and that's fine, but if you want to use an Amazon reseller,
I recommend that you support the efforts of a friend, a local
group, or someone who is doing work you want to see continue
Spin. (Go over the ground again and over again. Try lots of
different things. Collect a variety of decks that you like.
Walk (the labyrinth.) EARTH
Dance. (Celebrate and share your passion.) FIRE.
Swim. (Dive deeply into one area. Animal decks? Famous
artist decks? RWS decks? TdM decks?) WATER.
Fly. (Use a deck to read for others.) AIR.
About the author:
Paris Finley maintains a website at
www.tarotbyparis.com and his email
address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact him for a PDF of a much longer
and more detailed version of this article.