Forums Forums Tarot and Other Cartomancy Learning Tarot Rider-Waite deck vs. Universal Waite deck

last updated by  Pam B 12 years, 6 months ago
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    The question has been asked about the difference between the Universal Waite deck and the standard Rider-Waite deck. From what I understand, there really is no major difference, aside from the art technique. The Universal Waite images are softer, more visually pleasing and less harsh than that of the traditional Rider-Waite.

    Here’s an example of the Magician card from the standard Rider-Waite deck, with the card back to its’ side:


    And here is the same card from the Universal Waite deck, with the card back to its’ side:


    The standard Rider-Waite (also known as Waite-Smith) deck was drawn by Pamela Colman-Smith and commissioned by A. E. Waite. The Universal deck was done by Pamela Colman-Smith & Mary Hanson-Roberts.


    Thanks Dawn!:musicnote

    I actually had to go get my box the cards came in…..ALL THIS TIME I thought I had ordered the UNIVERSAL deck!! When I saw your post I said WAIT A MINUTE! So I have the standard Rider Waite deck.

    :o :redface3: My apologies to anybody I told in chat it was the other way around! I thought the plain deck was softer colors etc….APPARANTLY it’s the REVERSE!! SO SORRY!! I really thought that’s what I had purchased and since it’s been in the silk scarf and not the box, I had never realized!

    It’s actually quite amusing to me because I thought I DELIBERATELY ordered the Universal deck…and I landed up with the standard and it is working just fine for me!:laff2: I need those sharp edges and contrast, it fits my personality to not accept gray areas – it’s black or white or very close to one or the other – I don’t live in the middle!:angel: Guess that’s what makes me very opinionated! The varying shades of color and contrast also appeals to me visually as I am a very visual person.

    So Dawn, you had the Universal deck in Chicago right? When I looked at that deck compared to my RW (standard) it seemed to have alot of blues in it….my deck has almost No soft blues for backgrounds…alot of yellow.

    Oh and my STANDARD (ha ha) RW deck has different backing on it. Blue with small squares and 4 types of flowers in a checkboard style pattern.

    Ok, so since this is no longer under copyright law, do some of the “printers” of these cards alter them slightly?? I just pulled out my Magician and there are ever so subtle differences. there is some beige on the white part under his belt and some in folds on the chest area. The topmost rose by the the table top on mine is YELLOW and on the card above it’s red. The Wand on the table on mine is part whit on the left side of the card and then yellow, the card above shows all yellow. His left sleeve on mine is yellow and the card above is only white. His right hand where it grips the magic wand is white fingers and the card above is flesh colored. The other fleshtoned areas on my card are actually compised of small red dots and his right cheek on his face is darker and a white area above his eyes before the headband, the card above is one solid color of flesh color not red. I can’t tell in the detail above but there is also some aqua in the flowers to the left of the 3 lillies on my card. There’s also 2 red roses or part of them at the bottom center of my card (similar to the universal card above as well) but the standard RW card above doesn’t have this. The signature in the bottom corner is also different. I went back onto my order at amazon and this is the link to the one I have and it shows the photo of the deck and backing:

    Pam B

    Yes they do, there are probably dozens of different versions of the Rider Waite. You can see a small sampling at:

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