Ace of Pentacles/Coins Across Decks

I saw in my statistics page that someone had come to my site searching for images of the Ace of Coins. I thought to myself that this might make an excellent study.

Danger, danger, hours later after searching through dozens of decks and scanning, adjusting, rotating and labelling in Photoshop, I’m a bit punchy. When you’re in a funk, nothing helps like a bit of sorting, categorization, and organization. This was more than a bit, but hey it made for a keenly interesting day.

Dealing mostly with the Rider-Waite model (here used in the Universal Waite deck) I decided that there were three kinds of imagery with this card: the classic “hand of God” approach; the figurative approach related to the theme like in the Golden Tarot; and the pattern and shape decorated or changed similar to a pip in transformation playing cards, like in this marvelous Ace of Pentacles in the Sun and Moon.

In this study I am ignoring the figurative approach, and looking more at the other two.






I don’t see too many people using the Fradella deck but it’s one of my favourites.

















I’ve talked about that Universal Fantasy card before, it reminds me so much of an old brooch.

So that’s it, about 8 hours of work and 39 decks!




17 thoughts on “Ace of Pentacles/Coins Across Decks

  1. “When Judy is sorting, categorising and organising tarot cards, all is good” – famous quote by unknown author.

    I love these kind of posts, as you know. Fascinating to see all of the different aces together, to contrast and compare. I think that Rohrig one speaks the greatest to me – of having potential but not always knowing it. And the Alchemical is beautiful. I was looking at the Tarot of the Seven Fold Mystery the other day and remembered just how much I adore Place’s artwork. It is so clean and uplifting.

    Great post! And lots of hard work there! Really enjoyed it.

    • I looked at the Sevenfold Mystery too–I like that. I was looking at his Buddha Tarot yesterday and still find it doesn’t work for some reason. I’ve always wished he’d do Dante Allighieri’s Divine Comedy, instead he did Bram Stoker’s Dracula which is not a great book just a notorious one.

      I find on really bad days, that the calming effect of looking through card decks and art is of great benefit. Apart from that it provides focus on all the decks I have, so it’s like a small meditation of gratitude too.

      It’s like being filled up with joy and colour and the effort of artists, the thought to push onward (as only an artist trying to complete a 78-card deck knows) is part of what filters into me.

      • I didn’t realise how many of his decks I have. I have the Vampire one, the Alchemical Renewed, and the Buddha. I was also looking at the Burning Serpent in London the other day, which does look very nice but was a tad expensive (and the book was separate, if you wanted that as well).

        These days, I really know what works for me with reading and moving away from the RWS is something I do less. Looking through the SM, it was quite different from that system and I struggled to tell which cards were which. I look for decks I can read for others with these days (which I can understand would be a boring choice for many). I was kind of gutted that the SM departed from the RWS so heavily as it would have been such a great choice for me, artistically.

        I love to see your cards laid out this way. Makes me appreciate tarot as a whole.

        • I have a few decks that are a struggle to sort, either from changing the suit names and card names or not being labelled at all, but some are worth it.

          I look for artwork that is different mostly. If you are reading professionally as you do, I can see where RWS decks would be best.

  2. I like this post. It’s the sort of thing I wanted while trying to illustrate a deck, only I didn’t have internet, so I ended up, um, you know, amassing a collection of decks.

    I must ask you, out of ignorance, why you think RWS decks are best for reading professionally?

    footnote: The image on the Absurd A of Coins was illustrated after B K S Iyengar, who passed away on August 20th. I think I’ve generally been embarrassed to tell people that. Maybe because I gave him an earring, and in the end it looks little like him other than the bushy eyebrows.

    • Yes, I noticed Iyengar had died. I once had his biography, not sure if it’s still here or if I gave it away.

      This is exactly why I wanted you to write a book Jess, I love all these details–not embarrassing, just part of inspiration which is what gives your deck its deeper qualities. No one created a deck like you, with your particular inspiration and vision, it’s special.

      As far as a deck being best for reading, it depends on the person but generally it helps to be familiar with a system and the RWS is more prevalent and thus more familiar. Hence the emphasis, because you want to do your best when people pay you. It’s not just the money though, people ask for readings when they are troubled or deeply upset, so you want to help them, you want to be able to tune in easily.

      Really, the best deck(s) is one that the reader can do their best readings with, and that tends to be within a system familiar to the reader, whatever that is.

      • Okay. I was just making sure you weren’t of the opinion that it was best to read with the RWS for the same reason it would be best to attend, say, a Catholic church: because that’s the way you (I mean, not necessarily you) were brought up. I didn’t think it would be so. And I also didn’t think that your reasoning was because you thought that clients would be weirded out by a deck illustrated completely with fluffy animals, for example. But honestly, I don’t think I could seriously read with any deck other than my own. I don’t own a RWS because (um) I never connected with the artwork. So I really think you might have been saying that the deck that is closest to one’s heart is the best to read with professionally, because we tune in with our hearts. Maybe?

        • Nah, not a big deal, no big agenda, it’s best to read with what works for you, which for deck creators is most certainly their own deck(s), and for others is what they are most comfortable and familiar with, which is often the RWS.

          I know some readers have a choice of decks that clients can choose from. I assume they make sure they can read equally well with all of them before offering them as choices.

          People can get a bit stroppy about using the “correct” deck which always bugged me because I don’t like to be told what is correct. In the case of choosing a deck, whatever people like seems okay with me, as long as they don’t expect me to use it just because they say it’s the best.

  3. Ahh, what’s not to love about the Ace of Earth, however it’s named? I’d forgotten about that card in the Arthurian Tarot – it’s a nice one (I don’t have the deck).

    Every time we visit Bisbee I think about what a great Tarot deck I could make with photos taken from around town, and I always note potential “cards” on our walks there. Once we found a big rusty steel dome, about a foot high and six feet wide, embedded in the rocks and desert plants on a hillside. It was an old mining relic. I placed a few bright pieces of copper ore on top, and presto! Ace of Disks!

  4. Hello, I am glad to have found your blog. As I was preparing a video of a recent Pentacle Spread and googling images, I ran across your posts. My name is Mark, and contributed the Incantations for the Light & Shadow Tarot deck/book. While Michael and Brian have transitioned, I am here still keeping the spirit of the work alive.

    It is so good to see The Light & Shadow Tarot deck in use. Sometimes it seems to have disappeared into drawers and boxes stowed away in a cupboard.

    Here is an interview I did when the book was published. I talk about how the deck was created at the art studio (Firethorn Studio on Valencia St. in San Francisco) Michael & I shared at the time. I hope you find it interesting.

    All the best, and Thank you. Slàinte.


    • Hi Mark, I really enjoyed reading that interview. It is great to hear the deck mentioned by someone else from my side too. I love poetry and write poetry myself so I like to hear from poets about their work with cards. I love the way you refer to “keeping the work alive” as that is so often how I feel about older decks.

      I find generally that black and white decks aren’t as popular, but I collect them if I can afford them because they tend to be artistic and full of depth, unlike many of the photo-collage decks that are so ubiquitous now. The hand of the artist is magically inspiring. A recent black and white deck I love is the Tarot of the Absurd, and the artist Jessica Shanahan writes poetry too.

      In addition to this one I have several of Brian’s decks that I use on this blog here and there: the Ship of Fools Tarot, Minchiate Tarot, and the wonderful PoMo Tarot, and they all push me into learning something new, meandering through literature, history, and art history.

      Thanks for writing, it makes me hopeful that real artists and writers will take back tarot, similar to the trend in 1996 when the Light and Shadow Tarot was published. Brian and Michael left a hole, but at least this deck continues–what a terrific legacy.

      • Oh, and I was thinking about something else in keeping older things alive. Jean Redpath, a marvelous Scottish singer who died recently, brought back a catalogue of songs by Robert Burns. She sang them in a traditional way as they might have been done in the 18th century. Beautiful and affecting, she kept them alive.

        There is a long tradition of things coming in and out of focus in human history, so your work in keeping the spirit of this deck alive is a good thing, it will come around again.

    • You’re welcome. These little studies are what keep me going some days. There is nothing like pulling out 55 decks and going through them to give you a pick-me-up.

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