c.1909-30 Rider-Smith-Waite, Pam C

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c.1909-30 Rider-Smith-Waite Tarot, "Pam C"

78/78 Cards, with The Key to the Tarot booklet and maroon box case. 


Printed by Rider & Co.

Designed by A. E. Waite

Illustrated by Pamela Coleman-Smith

Booklet by Arthur Edward (A.E.) Waite

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Deck: The Smith Waite Rider Tarot Deck, "Pam-C"


Early Smith-Waite or Rider-Waite tarot deck, 78 cards + 1 blank card, included with the maroon two-piece box and "New Edition" of The Key to the Tarot, with 212 pages, printed by Chance & Bland Ltd., Gloucester, 1920. 


The tarot deck was designed by Arthur Edward Waite and drawn by Pamela Coleman Smith. The deck was first published in 1909 by Rider & Co. London. As Saskia Jansen writes, "After the first edition of the Rider-Waite tarot in 1909 [commonly referred to as the Roses & Lilies edition], four further editions were published until approx 1940. These versions differ in several details: outline artwork, colours, lettering, card thickness, the box and the accompanying book. The letters A, B, C and D were given at random and do not refer to the order of publication of the packs." For further information about how to identify the editions, visit The World of Playing Cards website (info and link below).  


The deck for sale here is a "Pam-C" variant with the added line at the top of the right of the sun's nose/eyebrow on Arcanum XIX. There are various theories about its timing and release (see references below). Often found with the 1920 New Edition of the booklet, it is most commonly dated as a c.1920-30 edition, following K. Frank Jensen's timeline. This dating timeline is the most widely accepted.


A more contentious timeline is that of Pietro Alligo (aka Lo Scarabeo), who theorizes that the "Pam C" is the result of an accident which occurred in the original/first printing of the deck. For Alligo, the "Pam-B" (not the Rose & Lillies edition) is the original or 1st edition, and the "Pam-C" was created after the black lithographic stone of The Sun card was damaged during the print run, adding the mysterious extra line of the sun near the number "XIX." Alligo identifies both the Pam B and Pam C as the original decks. 


There are two known variations in the "Pam C" decks. Both variations have the extra sun ray, but one variation (the one sold here) has an added little line at the top right of the sun's nose close to the eyebrow. According to Alligo, this variation represents the "first correction," where "the right line of the nose was modified" and where evidence of the fuller damage caused to the black lithographic stone is still visible before the "second correction." 


Both timelines are offered here as resources and references in dating; the deck is priced and being sold as a Pam C variant, widely accepted and dated as c.1920-1930. 


Deck Identifiers:

· Borders: thick black line

· Reverses: brown crackle back

· Paper: solid pasteboard cardstock

· Titles: English

· Style: Waite-Smith, Alchemical


Edition "Pam-C" Variant Identifiers:

·Line art, same as "Pam-B," except for The Sun card. 

·Arcanum XIX The Sun: with "squiggly" line at top of the sun beside "XIX"·

·This variation has an extra little black line at the top right of the sun's nose close to the eyebrow. 

· Arcanum VI The Lovers: Angel without eyeshadow

· Skin tone created with dots, not lines


Original booklet:

Arthur Edward Waite, The Key to the Tarot; Being Fragments of a Secret Tradition under the Veil of Divination, New Edition, London. William Rider & Son Limited, 1920. Printed in Great Britain by Chance & Bland Ltd., Gloucester, xii, 212 pages.



Very good condition. Complete with 78/78 + 1 blank card, box, and booklet. The cards are in very good condition with few issues. The original booklet is complete and in very good condition. Bound in light blue-grey cloth, with title, The Key to the Tarot, blind stamped on the spine, with minor stain and discolouration, booklet covered in protective paper cover with title and presumably the date of purchase "30th May 1931" in black marker by previous/first owner; maroon box in good condition with rubbing and some lacks at corner and seams, side seam of top box split, some stains, foxing and wear at the bottom of the box. 

Card Measurement:  11.9 cm x 7 cm (stack 2.6 cm thick) 

Alligo, Pietro. “Waite-Smith: The First Edition,” Twenty Years of the Tarot: The Lo Scarabeo Story. Torino: Lo Scarabeo, 2007. P.37-48

Jansen, Saskia. “Rider Waite Tarot early editions,” The World of Playing Cards, The World of Playing Cards, September 08, 2013 [Updated August 02, 2023]. https://www.wopc.co.uk/tarot/rider-waite/rider-waite-early-editions

Jensen, K. Frank . "Early Rider Editions,"  Manteia Courier, 1998-99

Jensen, K. Frank. “The Early Waite-Smith Tarot Editions: New Discoveries,” Arnell’s Art, 2008, https://www.arnellart.com/manteia/waite-smith/alligo-cts.htm