University Books (1960) 1st printing/2nd edition – Deck Review

Hello r/tarot, I picked this beauty up yesterday and decided I'd share my initial thoughts and impressions with everyone in this brief review. University Books was the first publisher to bring Pamela Colman Smith's – Rider–Waite–Smith to full-color printing in the United States circa 1960.

While the true first edition of this deck features a red slipcase, this second edition was the first deck ever to feature a printed card image directly on the tuck box. The printed inside of the box can be identified as the 2nd edition with the same Pink Ankh design as the card backs. My best research indicates that this deck is complete and did not originally come with an LWB or any blank/advertisement cards beyond the 78. However, I must admit, the information available here seems sparse, and I am not sure of this.

I was drawn to this particular deck because of its rich history and beautifully balanced yet more saturated colors. Others have described some of the blues and purples used as having an almost electric quality. To my eyes, I see them as nearly neon in character.

It's also worth noting that skin tones in this deck seem much more accurate than more modern printings of the RWS commonly found in yellow boxes, which are readily available. I included some more images below, a selection of some of my favorite cards from a coloration standpoint, followed by photos comparing these to a recent printing of the aforementioned yellow box RWS.

I hope you enjoy looking and would welcome any additional info or insights the community has about this deck. I plan to follow up with a second post once I've had some more time to get in some readings with it.

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Kerrie Mercel

Currently Kerrie Mercel, inspirational speaker, author & facilitator for the health and wellness industry. Kerrie enjoys working with professional business women helping them to find the power to live life on their terms.