Tarot of Prague by Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov, Book by Karen Mahony -- Second Edition
Review by Diane Wilkes

Click here for a review of the first edition of the Tarot of Prague.

In 2004, Baba Studios released a new edition of the critically-acclaimed Tarot of Prague. Instead of the European-styled beribboned box, the deck comes in a more prosaic (and practical) cardboard version that is standard American fare. The original box featured an image from the Two of Cups, which has been superseded by the Moon card in this new edition. Also, the little white booklet (LWB) was pasted into the binding of the original box; the new one looks the same, but is not attached to the box. The material in the LWB appears to be identical in both versions. The card backs contain the same design, but are now blue instead of tan.

The new version of the deck is somewhat different on the inside, as well as the outside. Most of the differences are minor, but they are of note (so I'm noting them!). The 2004 edition cards are slightly larger than their predecessor, and I have to say that, in this case, bigger means better, for the most part. The larger images enhance the reading experience. The new cards are also squarer--the corners are cut in a less rounded manner--making the new version seem more straightforward, a little less exotic. Still, what you lose in old-world charm is more than made up in clarity with these "larger accommodations."

One of the most exciting additions is a new card, Prudence. One of the original virtues (and found in the Minchiate), this card stylistically reminds me of Robert Place's Alchemical Tarot. Dear Prudence can come out to play if readers chooses to integrate her into their  readings--or not. The first edition contained two versions of the Death card, and the new edition contains only one, the least traditional version, so I suppose it's a trade-off--Prudence or Death. How profound is that?

The deck's creator had intimated that there were some subtle changes to be found in this new version, so I compared it card-by-card to its predecessor. Usually, when two versions of a deck come out, one is darker (or lighter) than the other, but in these decks, some cards from the original are lighter, others darker. Many are so similar as to be almost identical. I think this is a testament to the production values of Baba Studio--an attention to detail and quality that is rarely seen in mass publishing.

The most significant differences are:

The Hanged One - The sun sconce seems to have fuller rays on the new version

Temperance - The background yellow is more mellow (how poetic!) in the new version

Two of Wands - The baby looks sunburned in the new version

Knight of Wands - The new version has a realistic blue-sky background, as opposed to stark white

Two of Cups - The waters and the naked bodies are darker in the new version

Three of Cups - Again, the new version contains darker figures

Five of Swords - The new version has rushes that are a deeper hue of blue, as well as a darker dragon

Six of Swords - The water is more clear, and blue green, as opposed to the grey-green of the original

Two of Pentacles - The water is significantly darker and more realistic looking in the new version

Six of Pentacles - The marble church wall is more aged-looking, the gold medallions shinier in the new card

Seven of Pentacles - The background scene in the new card is less misty, more defined

King of Pentacles - The new version is brighter and clearer

Either version of this outstanding deck is delightful and I recommend them both. Collectors will need both editions because of the different cards, but most people will not need to get a copy of the new deck if they already own the original. I have to admit to a slight partiality for the new edition, simply because of the larger-sized cards, but both versions have their own individual charms. How fitting--since this deck is charm city.

No, wait, that's Baltimore. But I am willing to wager that this Prague is at least as charming as Baltimore...

You can see all the images from this deck, as well as order it from the artists here.

  Yes No
78 cards X  
Reversible Backs X  
Strength VIII, Justice XI X  
Color Images X  
Standard (RWS) Titles of the Major Arcana X  
Traditional (RWS) Suits (Rods/Wands, Cups/Chalices, Swords, Pentacles/Disks) X  
Traditional (RWS) Golden Dawn Suit-Element Attributions X  
Standard dimensions (approx. 4 3/4" X 2 3/4")                     X
Smaller than standard                                             X
Larger than standard    (3" x 5")                                  X  

Images 2004 Baba Studios
Review and page 2004 Diane Wilkes