The Sharman-Caselli Tarot is one of my favorite decks. A superb creation of Juliet Sharman-Burke and Giovanni Caselli, it combines the best features of the popular Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) Tarot with elements of classic decks such as the Visconti-Sforza Tarot and Marseilles Tarot. However, how does the mini version included in the Tarot Box fare? Not as well as I would have wished, yet if you loved the Sharman-Caselli Tarot you may still consider to give this kit a try.
As I hinted, the transition of the Sharman-Caselli Tarot to the mini format (3.375 x 2 inches) was not the best it could have been. For example, there is a very small blurring effect in the art's line work. But the most glaring mistake is on the cutting of the cards, as it seems that the face and back of some are off centered in my deck.
If you are not familiar with the Sharman-Caselli Tarot, this deck is based on the RWS Tarot, with inspiration from older decks such as the Tarot of Marseilles and the Visconti-Sforza. Like the RWS Tarot, the imagery throughout the Sharman-Caselli Tarot depicts the renaissance era, but done with seemingly realistic art filled with soft colors.
The Major Arcana is mostly inspired on the RWS Tarot, with a few exceptions. The Wheel of Fortune shows a wheel with four people at the top, bottom and sides and a blind-folded women in its center, definitely drawing inspiration from the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, while The Lovers shows a finely dressed man deciding between two women with cupid floating over his head, an imagery more akin to the Marseilles Tarot. The Minor Arcana are fully illustrated and inspired on the RWS Tarot.
In a nod to the Visconti-Sforza tarot, the Major Arcana are unnumbered. If you pay attention to the order of the Major Arcana you will find the following: The Fool, The Magician, The Empress, The Emperor, The High Priestess, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Justice, Temperance, Strength, The Hermit, The Wheel of Fortune, The Hanged Man, Death, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgement, and The World. This is the order to study the Tarot recommended by Sharman-Burke. This was included in The New Complete Book of Tarot, but missing from the mini Tarot book included in this kit.
The book in this kit is titled Tarot: Learn How To Read The Cards. This is a small 3 x 3 inches pocket book, but at a count of 336 pages I doubt anyone would carry it in his/her pocket. The book is divided as follows:
What is Tarot?
Getting to Know Your Deck
The Major Arcana
The Minor Arcana
How to Read the Cards
Your first Readings
Taking it Further
In all, this book is a larger version of a Little White Book. You get a brief history of Tarot and then some. To my surprise, there is even a description on how to play Trumps with the cards. I never considered using a Tarot deck for playing games before, but at the smaller size, the cards are very well suited for playing.
Three pages are spent for each card: one page for the image and "Key Issues", another for "Symbolism" and the last one for "In A Reading" use. The final sections include layouts such as The Pyramid (5 cards), The Horseshoe (5 cards), and the Celtic Cross (10 cards).
The silliest part of this kit is the 9 puzzle pieces Layout Board. It includes The Pyramid in one side and The Horseshoe. Honestly, with a few bucks, I think you could do better with a fold out plastic coated photocopy of well decorated layout of your own preference.
This is not a bad kit to start with. However, if your budget is tight or you are just testing the tarot waters, you may also consider Tarot to Go!. If you are a tarot collector or reader, you may want to spend just a bit more and buy The Sharman-Caselli Tarot Deck instead, but beware that the card stock on this deck is of a slightly inferior quality than decks from Us Games Inc, Llewellyn or even LoScarabeo.