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Two cards from the Centennial Tarot, (c) U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Two cards from the Centennial Tarot, (c) U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

The Centennial tarot deck is a mini tarot deck that U.S. Games has published. The original Centennial deck (which is full sized) was published in 2009 to celebrate the hundred-year anniversary of the creation of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck in 1909. This version was then published based upon that deck.  

Artwork

The artwork is Pamela Colman Smith’s, and so it is familiar to almost every tarot reader, but here it is presented in a slightly more antiqued and muted set of colors than in many of the RWS clones on the market. The line work in the art is also a bit heavier and there is less shading than in, for example, the Universal deck. As such, the cards look a bit like they come from woodblock prints. Therefore, for those who like more of a hand drawn look to their cards, this may not be taste. That said, I prefer the look of these cards to many other RWS decks. The two art cards are both from Smith’s other illustrations and are lovely. While many readers will choose not to do so, they could assign tarot meanings to them and use them in readings. 

Layout and Feel

This deck is housed in a small tin case that is sturdy and stays closed. This makes this deck idea for travel. The cards are slightly smaller than the tin, but they do not seem to knock around much. After time, it is conceivable that the tin may become dented or lose paint. (Mine has done both over time.) 

The cards themselves are slightly larger than poker-sized playing cards. The images are still clear and readable despite being reduced. This card size makes these excellent as “clarifier” cards for anyone who reads in a style that uses them. The card stock is similar to other U.S. Games decks, but has help up well, even to riffle shuffling. (Note: This is not a new deck, and is one I use regularly).

The deck does have borders on both sides of the cards, and there is a copyright in each border on the front of the card. Should one choose, it would be easy to modify this deck by trimming off the borders, though they have never seemed intrusive to me. The card backs are in a pale grey-blue. The design features a white rose in the center and Pamela Colman Smith’s initials in two corners. They are fully reversible. 

Content

The suits are the cups, pentacles, swords and wands, and all the cards are fully illustrated. There are no keywords beyond the card names. The Strength card is number eight in the major arcana with Justice at eleven. Most of this will be very familiar to someone in the RWS tradition as this deck makes not deviations from what is standard to a RWS deck.

The LWB is small and fairly standard, coming in at 50 (small) pages. It contains a introduction by Stuart Kaplan and does a good job of giving a description, meanings and reversals of each card succinctly. The Celtic Cross spread is explained at the end. The LWB is not illustrated past the cover and last page.

Conclusion

Coming in at around $15.00 USD, and using standard symbolism, this is an excellent deck for a beginner or someone wanting to better learn the RWS system. It also could make for and excellent primary deck, travel deck, or clarifying deck dependent on the needs of the reader. This is actually one of my go-to decks for those reasons, and I recommend this as a solid RWS deck for nearly anyone. 

Deck Specs

Two cards from the Centennial Tarot, (c) U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Centennial Tarot, (c) U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Name: Smith-Waite Tarot Deck: Centennial Edition
Type: Tarot
System: RWS
Card Number: 78 plus 2 art cards
Backs: Reversible
Card Size: 2.25 x 3.75 in (5.715 x 9.525 cm) 
Box: Tin
Author: Arthur E. Waite
Illustrator: Pamela Colman Smith 
Publisher: U.S. Games, 2015
Availability: Amazon

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