RWS drawings in "Card-Reading" by Minetta


Card-Reading by Minetta (London: William Rider, 1913) features mainly Cartomancy by the ordinary playing cards. But there are two chapters for the Tarot cards so I made them into a PDF for reference. Minetta wrote "The pack to which I shall refer the reader, and which I shall use in the following exposition, is that containing the new designs executed by Miss Pamela Colman Smith".

Her book is quite valuable for me because of her own Tarot spread, and the accompanying diagram which shows another early RWS drawings. I made a 300dpi scan for this.

I believe these must be important materials for RWS study.


Hello Roppo.

Thanks for posting this.

It would be interesting to compare the fine details of these drawings to the Pam-A Rose & Lilies, Pam-A Crackle, and Pam-C, in order to see if any direct relationships are evident.


How does the spread in the second link work? It looks interesting.


OnePotato said:
Hello Roppo.

Thanks for posting this.

It would be interesting to compare the fine details of these drawings to the Pam-A Rose & Lilies, Pam-A Crackle, and Pam-C, in order to see if any direct relationships are evident.

Hi OnePotato,

Yes, it's very interesting to compare the pictures. So I made an illustrating jpeg for 6 of Wands.

The upper left is from The Occult Review 1909 Dec. issue.
Upper right, Pam-A. Lower left, Pam-B. Lower right, Pam-C.

Look at the horse's left ear (his left). OR ear don't touch the frameline while Pam-A's does. Pam-B and C's seem to go over the line. In other words they are trimmed a bit, Pam-A,B,C, all of them. This is one of the reasons I believe the OR drawings are most faithful to Pixie's originals. (Big thanks to kenji for giving me these Pam-pictures from his collection).

And Minetta's 6 of Wands.

It's reduced to a stamp size but obviously has a same width span as the OR 6 of Wands. It's not a reduced reproduction of the pictures from PKT and so safely assumed they are from Pixie's original drawings. My early RWS theory is that Rider Co. took photos of Pixie's original drawings at early stage and I believe Minetta's cards are supporting this.

Hello le.jour.obscurcit,
Minetta explains the spread in the pdf above. Quite interesting, with her somewhat strange interpretations of the Trumps.


If you check the diagram on page 94 of her text, you'll see that the spread is actually a Tree of Life Spread with Da'at as card 5. This accords with Minetta's description.

The reason for her "somewhat strange interpretations of the Trumps" (as roppo mentioned) is that it mixes the RWS cards with some of Paul Christian's ideas (Empress as Isis-Urania, etc.).

She originally wrote a gem of a book, "What the Cards Tell" in 1896 that has only a brief mention of Tarot:

"Since three thousand years before Christ, the art of Cartomancy has been in vogue. Many ancient adepts consulted the oracle before venturing on any great undertaking. The Chinese used to engrave plates of coper and silver with designs of similar import to those in modern use. The Hebrews engraved the sacred symbols of the Tarot on plates of gold, and these were afterwards copied by the Kabalists, and notably by Simeon-bar-Jachai, to whom we owe our knowledge of the Book of Hermes. The art of Divination was in vogue among the adepts of the religious orders in times past, and the vulgar imitation was permitted by them the better to veil from public knowledge the true secrets of the sacred science."

The spread that in 1896 Minetta calls "Method II," and which also appears in a book by Madame Xanto in 1901 where it is identified as an 8-pointed Star Layout, and in another book by Mme. Zancig in 1903, may be the design that inspired Waite's Ancient 10-card Spread.


But why is Justice as 8 and Strength is 11 and the Star

is pouring water both on water and earth described as pouring fire and water?

The first descriptions seemed to be describing a Marseilles or Milanese deck rather than the Rider Waite. (Later: I saw the note that Teheuti added that explains a mix of references in the descriptions

I do appreciate the text and am eagerly reading it, but I thought this would be one of the earliest texts describing the Waite-Smith images!

Thank you for posting this. I notice the 1912 address for Rider and Sons is the same one as my 1912 edition of Tarot of the Bohemians.

(I just received a 1910 edition of the Tarot of the Bohemians and notice a different address for the publisher. That's just a trivia note right now)

Another note that may or may not be pertinent: I believe that A.E. Waite's revisions to his book "Cartomancy" (as Grand Orient) show up first in his 1909 Cartomancy with further additions in 1912 as well...I'll poke around and see if I can find an e-book facsimile that might have the Waite Smith deck referenced as well...

Here it is: Scroll down to the last two excerpts linked with pdf Waite's Cartomancy from 1898 - 1912 was a work in progress then, as well as Minetta and Seriphal's and other English texts that might have been revised to include the Waite Smith deck or cards:

Thanks much for the heads up on these 'changing times' and off to read is fascinating to see how the 1890's, 1900, 1910-1920's tarots and written texts may have been changed or revised in light of the PCS and AEW tarot!



I found a related 1911 text online, but not RWS pictures

Sorry, I got confused, because I was looking for the full text of Minetti...and came up instead with similar text under Sepharial's Manual of Occultism. Sepharial was the author of the Preface of Minetti's book...

Just fyi, in Sepharial's text, from page 159 you can read the full text. In this edition, the same odd mentions of Justice as Eight and Strength is 11, as if they were describing a Marseilles deck...

And yes, the mention of the recent deck, Rider Waite notes are the same as Minetti's. I have not located any early RWS illustrations yet.



Scroll down to note 2 to find the author "Sepharial"

I found that there another early reference to the 'recent pack' that Rider and Sons published, but it was under the preface author name "Sepharial" rather than Minetti--- so had done a search on Sepharial.

The Alchemical Society that A.E. Waite participated in is discussed in the link below. For the purposes of this thread, I thought it would be of interest to find out who "Sepharial" was and if there is a link to A.E. Waite. There is--scroll down to Note 2 at the bottom of the page:

2...Writing about the Alchemical Society, De Steiger recorded that Atwood’s book ‘gave a very practical impetus to that study by a circle already formed in London under the acting presidency of Mr. Stanley Redgrove, B.Sc., and Mr. A.E. Waite, W.G. Old (the Astrologer who writes under the pen name of “Sepharial”) and others.’ De Steiger also commented on her own contribution to the Alchemical Society....

Anyway, thought this would be of related interest. It may have been posted elsewhere, but WG Old (Sepharial) also published in 1911 "A Manual of Occultism" and under tarot noted the new Rider Waite pack (on page 155), but wrote of the majors using the Marseilles order and the descriptions are similar also to Minetti's--that is a mix of different sources.

Minetti's descriptions also kept the old Marseilles order and seemed to be describing--as Teheuti said--a mix of meanings from various sources.




Hello Roppo...I am wondering if Minetta was actually a pseudonym...

This note in Pearson's Magazine is what I am following up--I was able to buy a later copy of Card Reading by Minetta and thought some of it looked a little similar to some things Waite translated.'s Magazine minetta Holt Schooling&f=false

This extract ad seems to list or associate text from Card Reading by Minetta to Grand Orient (A.E. Waite). I also was curious because in Minetta's Preface in my 1918 reprint Minetta writes:

"In dealing with the Tarot, I have availed myself to material which is perhaps better presented, and certainly more generously treated, in oher works, particularly that by Mr. A. E. Waie, to whom my acknowledgemen is due. At the same time I have been able to inroduce one or two features of the Tarot which are traditional among Kubalists (Cerulean guesses Kabbalalists) and not hitherto incorporated in any book."

Also Minetta's Fortune Telling cards advertised in Pearson's : minetta &f=false

If you notice the publisher George Redway, he was the publisher also of Waite's editions of Cartomancy up to 1898 as well S.L. MacGregor Mathers' 1898 edition of " The Tarot"

Best wishes--it's a bit of a mystery?


P.S. Editions of Waite's Cartomancy and Key to Tarot for comparisons:


Bumping up this old thread.

Recently I did a 600dpi scanning on the Minetta RWS plate and compared each card to that of PKT. Some cards show remarkable features and make me think Minetta cards are the earliest images in the RWS production.

I made some illustrations for comparison.

9 of Pentacles

Page of Swords

The World

Queen of Wands

My RWS production theory is that --

1) Pamela Colman Smith made 80 images for RWS (78 cards, 1 Rose & Lily backpattern, and presumably the snake biting its own tail).

2) Some problems owing to bad communication among Rider, Waite, and PCS were found out, and solved by applying paper-patches to the original drawings.

3) Rider took photos of the 80 images and made several set of photo-copies for the following editing and color designing. Even at this stage some problems such as the Sun XVIII -XIX were discovered and corrected.

4) Finally the finished set was sent to the printer Spraig & Co.

Now I come to believe the images used in the Minetta plate were from a set of photo-copies not used for color-design.