Imma not even gonna make excuses. I bought the Golden Universal Tarot (illustrated by Roberto De Angeles and published by Lo Scarabeo) because it is shiny. I guess I’m a magpie in that respect. I like shiny.
It isn’t a bad deck. For public readings where complete strangers will be handling my tarot cards, I wouldn’t mind bringing this one. And while that speaks positively of the deck’s versatility, function, and imagery, it also shows it’s not one of my favorites. For collectors, I don’t think this is worth adding to a collection, if one is truly on a budget. Also, for teaching tarot, I would stick with the classic Rider Waite Smith. All that said, for the professional tarot reader who does a lot of public readings and lets their clients handle the decks, this is a great one and definitely worth getting for that purpose.
The deck is mostly beautifully gilded (I’ll get to why I say “mostly” in a bit) and per the current trend this past year, the borders are black rather than white. The backs are reversible, so for those who read with reversals, this deck works to that end. The cards are approximately 4.25″ x 2.5″, which means they’re very easy to shuffle, cut, and work with, unlike many of the big, fancy decks that have been released as of late. That is in part why I say this deck is great for public reading usage. Quality of stock, like almost all decks I’ve been coming across in the last few years, is going down from what they used to be in the 80s and 90s but what can you do. Thus, while noticeably flimsier than the RWS decks of yore, it’s not so bad. You’ll work just fine with these. And if it matters to anyone, the box says this deck was made in Italy.
(Look how shiny the gilded cards are! In the above bottom right photo, you can see my face reflected behind the Magician!)
For those who can’t connect to the classical RWS deck because of its rudimentary artwork, the Golden Universal is a viable alternative. However, I appreciate Waite and Smith’s original version for its symbolism and rely heavily on every detail, the precise coloring of the sky and the clothing worn by the characters, and every little leaf and bird in the backdrop. As a result, working with the Golden Universal means I miss out on some of the details. Some of what seems to be minor changes doesn’t work for me particularly well.