Okay, so I didn't get around to posting again last night. You can hardly blame me considering the excitement of the moment. I don't normally like to post such big photos to my site, but just this once I can't resist:
And here's a photo of the entire sheet.
The photos don't do it justice. The cards look fantastic. They are truly better than I could have hoped for. The lines are so crisp; so much detail is preserved. The color is good: bright and even, with strong blacks and clean whites. They must have worked on the blacks, because I don't remember the originals being that even and smooth. In fact, I think the printed cards look better than the originals overall. Although I haven't seen the originals in well over a year so it's hard to judge.
Even the "bad" cards -- the ones I knew would be a problem, like Justice and the Ten of Cups -- look good. And the ones which started out with good crisp source material are just stunning. It's funny now to think about my agonizing back before the contract was signed, when Barbara warned me that they might have problems printing the art. All that worry that I'd end up with 78 muddy little messes. If I'd only known!
The backs are nice, with a simple black and white design and that "Victoria Regina et Imperatrix" medallion. They're very light & open. It makes a nice contrast to the fronts, which of course have heavy coverage with a minimum of white space. As I've said before, I kinda wish they had been able to add color to the backs. But if it was a cost issue, then I'm 100% behind their decision to invest instead in high quality printing for the fronts.
The paper stock feels good. It seems like I've heard complaints in the past about Llewellyn using flimsy paper. But this one feels nice and sturdy. It has a good heft when you snap the edge of it against your finger. (I'm sure there's a word for that, but I have no idea what it is. Anyone in graphic design want to help me out here?)
They even smell good. I think that fresh ink off the first printing of your own tarot deck must be the best smell in the world. I know, I'm getting a little silly here! Under the circumstances, I hope you'll make allowances.
Some of you probably already know that most Tarot decks are printed in sheets of 10x8, or 80 cards. And of course, all of you know that there are 78 cards in most decks. Which leaves 2 extra spaces on most sheets. Most publishers print title cards, information about the deck, or ads for their other products on these extras and stick them in with the deck.
(This is the reason, I think, why there are 3 Magicians in some printings of the Thoth deck -- because Freida Harris did 3 versions before she and Crowley came to an agreement on the card. The publisher decided to offer consumers a little bonus by including the two discarded versions on the extra cards. As far as I know, there was no divinatory purpose to the extra Magicians, although many tarot readers have come up with divinatory uses for them.)
Llewellyn uses the extra 2 cards for promos that they can hand out at bookseller conventions and etc. They printed 2 sample cards -- the Magician and the Queen of Coins -- on one side and some information about the deck on the other. I like their choice of sample cards very much. I'm fond of both those cards, and I think the Queen of Coins will appeal to anglophiles who may (I hope!) want this deck as a novelty, even if they're not interested in tarot.
From the info on the promo cards, I found out the list price: $34.95 in the US, or $53.95 Canadian. That's the same price as other current full kit sized decks (the ones in the big box with a big book and white box inside). So the velvet bag -- which retails for $12.95 -- is included for free. What a bargain!
I can't begin to describe the feeling, to see my deck all printed and laid out like that. I'm so tempted to cut one of the sheets apart, so I'll have an actual deck. An actual deck! that I could shuffle and lay out! The thought of it has me nearly hyperventilating. But no, cutting the sheet would be a mistake. I'll get plenty of decks, cut & shrinkwrapped, soon enough. I've only got two sheets and I think I'd regret cutting one up.