Pamela Colman Smith, under Arthur Edward Waite’s guidance in 1909, established the standard for numerous tarot decks that adopted the archetypal images. This edition includes Smith’s original hand-drawn titles.
One distinguishing characteristic of the Rider-Waite deck, a key reason for its enduring popularity, lies in its depiction of full scenes with figures and symbols on all cards, including the Minor Arcana. Prior to the Rider-Waite Tarot, almost all tarot decks featured pip cards marked solely with the arrangement of the suit signs—swords, wands, cups, and coins (or pentacles). The visual images on these cards facilitate interpretations without the need for constant reference to explanatory text. The introduction of the innovative Minor Arcana and Pamela Colman Smith’s talent for capturing the subtleties of emotion and experience have made the Rider-Waite Tarot a model for the designs of many tarot decks (excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Tarot, Volume III).
Aeclectic Tarot recognized the Rider-Waite Tarot as one of the Top Ten Tarot Decks of All Time.