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The Golden Tarot: The Visconti-Sforza Deck is a set that includes a reproduction of the Visconti-Sforza deck, a hardcover book by Mary Packard and a satin cloth. All of these are included in a nicely decorated box. Albeit some issues on the layout of the images on these cards, this set is a good value. However, it may not be for beginners, or even for owners of other Visconti decks that expect something new.
The cards in this set come in their own black box, stamped with The Moon card on front and the back of the cards on the back. The label "The Visconti-Sforza Deck"is written in a matte golden color on the lid.
The cards are 6.5 " x 3.25", and together these make a deck 1.25" tick. The back of these card is almost reversible, but the repetitive golden leaf motif on red background is oriented towards the top of the card. The front of the cards are bordered golden, with a red or brown frame around the image. The cards feel slick on the back and maybe a bit more textured on the front.
I take that the matte golden border is what the description refers to as "gold metallic ink". There are no golden metallic effects on the actual edge of the cards as seen on some luxurious Tarot decks. To be honest, I wasn't expecting one for the price, but I was hoping that the cards were at least 6" long judging from the size of the external box.
Since this is my first Visconti-Sforza deck, I could only compare the images on these cards to others over the internet, and these look good. If I look closely, it seems that the images were reproduced from photos of original artwork as I can perceive a canvas like pattern on them. Also, the edge of some images are not well defined at times, similar as having a painting on a cloth.
In addition, many of the cards have their images off centered, some more pronounced than others. I could only count 20 that were centered. In close inspection, I noticed that many of the off centered images were in fact not quite as rectangular as the card itself.
One final thing to note is the quality of the card-stock. They seem not quite as good as cards from main tarot makers, but they are sturdy and may hold their own with light to normal use.
The included book is a 6.5" x 5.25" hard cover; black with glossy black vine-like designs. Written by Mary Packard, this book is only 144 pages long, but is fully illustrated with color pictures. The book is organized as follows:
Chapter 1: History
Chapter 2: The Divine Tarot
Chapter 3: The Road to Wisdom
Chapter 4: The Trumps
Chapter 5: The Four Suits
Chapter 6: The Tarot Journey
The forward is written by Robert M. Place.
Chapters 1 to 3 are used to present a very brief history of the Visconti-Sforza deck, and the Tarot cards from card game to divination tool and most modern use as tool for enlightenment.
In Chapter 4, the trumps are presented one each two pages, one page for the picture of the trump and another, for another for card name in English and Italian, description, upright phrase and key words and reversed key words.
In Chapter 5, the pips are presented two or three per page, with card picture, name, brief description, upright and reversed phrases and keywords. However, the court cards are presented one per page with card picture, name, brief description, upright and reversed phrases and keywords.
In Chapter 6, a few spreads are presented with an example, including: The Three-Card Spread, The Five-Card Spread and The Celtic Cross.
I found the book entertaining, but nothing spectacular. Similar to what I would expect of a Little White Book. However, it may serve as a starting point for research for some.
This set also include a purple satin cloth for laying the cards. This cloth is 18" by 18", but otherwise plain. Nice, but nothing special to talk about.
The cards, book and cloth are stored in a black box, decorated with a glossy black vine-like patterns as seen on the book. As such, this box is as elegant as advertised. The top is held in place with magnetic closure and snap into place when you close it. The box holds side-by-side the deck and book. The satin cloth is placed behind the book, folded inside an insert box.
Overall, I found good value in this set, but keep in mind that:
1) I didn't own any previous Visconti-Sforza decks
2) I wanted this deck for contemplation of the imagery and
3) I wanted to add a Visconti-Sforza deck to my Tarot collection.