Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cardstock: Highs and Lows

So back on the tarot forums, many a thread and comment can be found on the subject of cardstock. For some, this is a major dealbreaker when deciding whether to get or to keep a new deck. I don't take it as seriously as some - if a deck has enough other merits, I'll likely keep it almost irregardless of the cardstock's level of mediocrity. That said, it is something I note, and I figured it would be interesting to post about  my favorites as well as about some worst offenders from my own collection. This is of course highly subjective, based on my own particular likes and preferences; also, only somewhat correlated to my level of like for the deck overall.


1. Thoth

When I first got the Thoth, it was a more recent printing, but after reading about the superiority of older copies, I eventually procured for myself a 1986 AGM printing. This is one of those decks I've done a bunch of things to: trimmed it, gilted the edges in a kind of bronze color, etc. There really is such a world of difference in the older printing and the current ones. The cardstock is much, much nicer on the old, and the colors are richer as well, with better contrasts. 

It shuffles very nicely. The smaller post-trim size is perfect for me, and...yeah. Not too thick or flimsy and not plasticky. Great with post over-hand and riffle shuffle methods.

2. Absurd

As I said in other post about it, I really do enjoy the cardstock of the Absurd tarot. The feel of it in particular is really nice - someone described it as buttery and I don't think that's inaccurate way of putting it.

It's a nice medium, not quite matte but not over-glossy, and it really brings out and plays up the contrast of black and white of the images really well. I love how nicely it shuffles, again, being great for either method.

3. Swedish Witch

Lastly, the cardstock of the Swedish Witch tarot I have is quite nice as well. Not sure exactly which edition/printing it may be...I bought it in a new age shop during my visit to Sweden last year and the box is probably somewhere in the depths of my parents' house by now. After trimming it a bit, the size is again exactly how I prefer my decks to be, and overall, I find it quite similar to the Thoth in feel. I have no issues shuffling it in any way, it doesn't feel stiff or floppy, and it showcases the colors of the images quite nicely.


1. Light and Shadow

I had such high hope for this deck, and I still do really like the actual images of the cards and how it reads, but well - as far as cardstock goes, ugh. The cards are huge and impossible to trim much. Not only that, but they are flimsy, floppy, and very plasticky feeling. Huge floppy cards do not for fun shuffling times make.

They also, for some bizarre reason (I've not encountered this on any other deck thus far) put plastic on the EDGES so that any attempt at gilting them is...not very successful.

This could be such an awesome deck, but the horrid cardstock instead places it rather far down on my list as far as preference goes. Publisher really did it a disservice :/

2. Corte dei Tarocchi

Ok, so first of all, I do get that this one was printer more as a collectors item than with reading in mind. That said, I have a thing about reading with ALL of my decks, and well.

In my life, I have not seen a deck with cardstock thicker than the cardstock of the Corte dei Tarocchi. Or even close to it. The whole deck stands in a tall, tall stack, and shuffling it all at once in any way is exceeding difficult. I've even had to adjust my method of choosing cards to ensure its properly mixed/random.

That said, it does feel nice (if unlaminated/delicate) and overall I do quite enjoy this deck muchly. But the shuffling.....

3. Sun and Moon

This is one of my favorites, but in the wider online tarot community, it seems to engender rather varied opinions. Some people, like me, quite like it; others have a very low opinion indeed. Among the latter, the cardstock quality is often mentioned, and in that regard, I really cannot argue. I love this deck in spite of its cardstock, because its other merits are just that high, for me.

Whats wrong with it? Well, to its advantage it isn't uber-glossy like some USG decks of recent years, but...cardboardy would be an accurate way of describing it. Moderately thick and really really stiff. Shuffling it is possible, but not easy. My trimming and gilting experiments have improved it much in my eyes, but nonetheless... Not exactly a fine example of great quality printing as far as cardstock is concerned.


Sharyn Mallow Woerz said...

Great post, always so many opinions. My big bugaboo is decks that won't fan, but clump. It is why I've gotten rid of most of the MRP decks and why I won't buy any more of them.

No one can beat LoS...but the variety of cardstocks is part of the many reasons I have lots of decks. If they were all the same in every way why have more than one deck? Wouldn't that be sad.

Bonkers said...

I agree, of the major publishers LoS is by far the best especially in terms of consistency of quality. I think I picked the ones for best that I did because they are of he relatively rare handful that exceed that standard.

I only have on MRP deck, the VR...and I know that some people rave about MRP cardstock but for me...its not bad, but its not super great either. A bit too floppy if that makes sense, and yeah sometimes a bit prone to clump...

and yes, yay to variety :]

Carla said...

I love shuffling LoScarabeo decks. The riffle like a dream. My favourite card stock is on my Morgan Greer Tarot. I think it's a US Games deck. It is slightly laminated, not shiny, and riffles beautifully. My least favourite card stock is a tie between Sol Invictus (too thick) and Druidcraft (too soft and floppy). :)

Barefoot Fool said...

I've been wanting a Thoth deck, & now I want an old copy.
How do you know, buying things over the internet when you can't touch them? Do you trust people's eBay listings?

I SO agree w/ the Corte dei Tarocchi. I started shuffling with multiple cuts instead of riffle shuffling & it works well, you just have to shuffle longer. But the cardstock's so rough, I'm afraid of scraping off the pictures.

Also, the TOTA cards were sorta floppy like the MRP decks (excepting 1st ed. Prague) & I had the printer turn the paper 90° so the grain ran the long way instead of the short way. MRP runs the grain the short way on the card; you can tell if you try to flex them the short way. Probably they save money this way. Or they never noticed?

Post a Comment