How I organise my collection

Another question I’m often asked is how I organise my collection. I have stored my decks in a number of different ways as my collection slowly grew from two tarot decks to the current 149 decks. Initially, I just kept them on my desk. That’s clearly no longer an option, I’d need a significantly larger desk! The next stage was on a shelf in no particular order. When I reached about 25 decks, I bought a wooden carry box from Ikea, and packed the decks in however the fit best.

New tarot storage #tarot #tarotcollection #25decks

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I liked being able to pick up my entire collection and take it with me places. I added a second box when I could no longer fit all my decks into one, but I outgrew that as well.

I still use the carry boxes to carry some of my decks, but I ended up storing them on a bookcase at home.

Organised my deck collection, I'm up to 100! #tarotcollector #tarotaddict

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The collection currently fills five shelves, but there’s plenty of space to expand into, and I can double up if I run out of shelf space.

That covers where the decks belong, but I still had to figure out how to organise them. When they were in the carry cases it was a matter of fitting similar sized decks next to each other and filling in the gaps with whichever decks fit, but now that I have a whole bookcase to fill, I wanted to organise them in a way that made it easier for me to find particular decks more easily.

I decided to arrange them by date, rather than by type of deck or size, which might have been a bit neater looking. I have a lot of historical decks and the dates range from circa 1450 up to the present, so sorting them by date is useful.

Some decks are a bit difficult to date, historic decks tend to have rough estimates rather than fixed dates, but it’s generally easy enough to put them in chronological order. Some decks are a bit more difficult to decide what to do with because they’re a version of an old deck but they’ve been updated or changed, so there’s the date of the original deck and the date the new version was published to choose between. I usually go with the original date if it’s a restoration or reproduction and the published date if the deck has been revamped.

If I have more than one version of a deck, like the Visconti Sforza or the Rider Waite Smith, I order them by the date I acquired the deck. Similarly if I have more than one deck released in the same year, which happens a lot with newer decks. If I get two decks released in the same year on the same day (yes, this has happened!) then they go alphabetically.

To keep track of where each deck belongs and where new decks need to slot in, I keep a spreadsheet of the decks. This is also handy if I’m looking at a bargain deck and can’t remember whether I already have it (this doesn’t happen often, I’m usually pretty good at remembering).

Where it all started

I got my first tarot decks in around 2009. I was living in Toronto at the time, and I remember that I got them from The World’s Biggest Bookstore, which was a pretty big bookstore, unsurprisingly. I don’t remember which deck I got first, or even whether I got them at the same time or not, but I do remember the process of choosing which deck to get.

I can’t remember why I decided to get a tarot deck in the first place, but I had been interested in paganism and wicca at the time and was reading all about those online, so I suppose I must have become interested in tarot along with that. Once I had decided to get a deck, I came across Aeclectic Tarot and quickly realised that there was a huge number of decks to choose from.

I did some more reading and research online, and decided that I should get a deck that I really liked, and also a Rider Waite deck because it seemed to be the one that all the books were talking about, so I thought it would be helpful to learn the card meanings and symbolism. I really didn’t like the look of the Rider Waite though, which seems like a strange thing to say because it’s come to be one of my favourite decks. I looked at a bunch of images of different cards from different versions of the Rider Waite, and eventually settled on the Radiant Rider-Waite which is more colourful I thought was less ugly.

The other deck I chose was purely based on the pretty pictures I found online. I looked through a lot of the categories on Aeclectic, anything that sounded reasonably interesting, and checked out the card images for any deck that I thought I might like. I settled on the Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti.

My first two decks #gildedtarot #ciromarchetti #radiantriderwaite

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Around the same time, I also picked up Rachel Pollack’s Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, which I think I also discovered through Aeclectic Tarot, on the forums.

Possibly because Aeclectic was my introduction to the world of tarot decks, I had my eye on a few more decks right from the beginning. Over the next five years I added the next six decks to my collection (Osho Zen, Thoth, Alchemy 1977, Tarot Nova, Quest Tarot and a Harry Potter tarot) and gradually became more and more interested in tarot and different deck styles.

In November 2015, I bought my first Lenormand deck to see what it was like, another Ciro Marchetti deck, the Gilded Lenormand, and I started buying tarot decks more often. In 2016 I got 72 more decks, including more cartomancy style decks as well as a lot of tarot. My other half may be pleased to know that so far this year I’ve only added 44 decks to my collection. He might not though, he thinks I already have way too many :-/.

Where to buy tarot decks

One of the questions I’m asked most often about my tarot collection is where I get my decks from and how I find new ones to buy. The answer isn’t terribly exciting really. I buy most of my decks from Amazon and eBay, but I have got a few from other places as well.

On Amazon, you can easily find mass market decks including historical, traditional and modern styles. Mass produced decks are generally under £30 and usually in stock on Amazon.

It’s easy to find similar decks on eBay as well, but eBay is also a great place to get out of print decks that aren’t in stock on Amazon. In fact, when Amazon do have out of print decks in stock, they’re often very expensive, and it’s easy to find a cheaper copy on eBay, especially if you don’t mind getting a used deck. Having said that, I’ve found a few new and sealed decks on eBay for great prices too. Checking the sold prices on eBay is a good way to check how much you can expect to pay for a deck that’s out of print.

Another great way to pick up decks on eBay is to buy a collection or bundle. They don’t appear very often, but when they do, they’re usually really good deals. I once won an auction for a collection of over 20 decks including some limited edition hand made decks, and I paid significantly less than if I had bought the decks separately. Again, it’s worth checking out the values of the decks by looking on Amazon or at sold listings so you know how much they usually sell for.

I have also bought independently produced decks directly from the creator’s website, or through marketplace sites like Etsy. Sometimes this is the only place a deck is available. I usually find decks like this via Instagram or Youtube reviews by people I subscribe to, and they generally include the information about where to buy a deck. If not, you can Google it.

Instagram and Youtube are my favourite places to go when I’m looking for inspiration for my tarot wishlist or more information about a deck I’ve seen somewhere and might be interested in acquiring. On Youtube you can find people unboxing a deck for the first time, showing cards from a deck or doing a full, in depth review of the artwork and symbolism in a deck. On Instagram, people share photos of readings, daily card draws and so on, and I’ve come across quite a few decks for the first time when browsing there.

Another place I go to find decks I like is Aeclectic Tarot. You can browse decks by style or theme and see example cards from thousands of decks. Each deck listed includes information about where you can buy the deck.

There are a few specialist tarot stores online that stock hard to find, limited edition, out of print or independently produced decks, and I’ll include some that I’ve browsed here for completeness, but I haven’t shopped at any of them (yet). They are, in no particular order: Tarotbg, Little Red Tarot, Alida and CollecTarot.

I’ve also bought tarot decks in physical stores. In the UK, where I live, Waterstones sometimes have a few decks, although they often only have the Original Rider Waite in stock. W H Smith also sometimes have this deck but they mostly carry Doreen Virtue decks that I have no interest in. Pagan, witchy or new age shops generally have a better selection, so they’re a good place to look. Some of these independent shops also have online stores.

Finally, another place I find decks to buy is through recommendations from friends and people I meet in my local pagan community. People show me their decks, or tell me about decks they’ve come across that they think I might like. Sometimes they’re way off the mark or mention decks I’m already familiar with, but other times they introduce me to a deck I might not have come across otherwise that makes it onto my wishlist or into my collection.

What do I collect?

If you’ve had a look at my tarot collection you may have noticed that not all of the decks I own are in fact tarot decks. I have some lenormand decks and a few other types as well. Something I often say though is that I’m not a fan of oracle decks. So what exactly do I collect and how do I make the distinction between things I’m interested in and things I’m not?

For starters, I collect tarot decks. That much should be pretty obvious! I collect historic decks, pretty decks, mass produced, independently published, serious and silly. My interest started with tarot, and it’s still the type of deck I’m most interested in.

I first started to be interested in non-tarot decks when I began learning about the history of tarot and cartomancy in general. Tarot was originally a game, not a divination system, and although cards have been used for divination since before tarot came into existence, other decks were preferred for this purpose. I started to include decks designed for divination that weren’t tarot in my collection.

I’m still not a fan of oracle decks, although they are clearly designed to be used for divination as well, so I had to think about what it is that I don’t like about them that doesn’t apply to the other decks. The distinction I made is that the decks I do collect have a particular system to them, they’re of a particular pattern, like tarot. They each contain a particular set of cards which is common to all decks of that type. There are rules. Oracle decks, on the other hand, don’t follow any system, each deck has its own unique set of cards, and there are no rules to follow.

So my collection includes tarot, minchiate, lenormand, sibilla, zigeuner and playing cards, as well as a few historical decks that don’t really fit into a system but that I feel are relevant to the development of tarot or other divination systems. It also includes regional decks, those that are of a style typical of a particular place, even though they’re not related to divination, because I’m interested in how decks changed through time.

I buy both new and used decks. Some decks are readily available new and some aren’t. Some decks are out of print, so getting a used copy is necessary. Sometimes I get a used deck because it’s cheaper than a new copy. As long as the deck is in good condition, it doesn’t bother me.