Rich in color and symbolic imagery, the Tarot by Alexander Daniloff is quite possibly the most beautiful deck I have ever seen. Intricately illustrated, each card is meticulously detailed, and thoroughly developed. Ever drawn to traditional and antiquated decks, this deck, with its medieval style and quirky personality is perfectly perfect for a tarot geek like me.
Admittedly, I chased after this deck for quite a while. Years, in fact. The first edition, which included just the 22 Major Arcana, was printed in 2010. By the time I discovered the deck it was already out of print. A second limited edition of 450 signed copies, consisting of all 78 cards, was published in 2012. There again, I missed my window of opportunity of acquiring for this copy as well. Fortunately for me the deck was released again in 2014. This one is not numbered or signed, which for me is somewhat of a relief, as I have every intention of using this deck until it falls apart in my hands.
Dressed in various shades blue, gold, and cream symbolism, the card backs are nothing less than stunning. In comparison, I have only seen online images of the 2012 edition, but I'm thinking I might like the colors and the simplicity of the tarot backs of the 2014 edition a little better.
Made with quality paper stock, the cards are delicately thin, with a smooth matte finish. Not only do they feel wonderful but the slide nicely in my hands. They are noticeably longer than your average tarot deck, making them a little challenging to handle at first, but not for long.
For aesthetic and practical reasons I did take the liberty of rounding the straight edged corners. Aesthetically, rounded corners are just a personal preference. This and rounded corners make for an easier and more comfortable shuffling experience. I thought it the best way to avoid dinged up corners.
For those who have a preference regarding the placement of Strength and Justice, Alexander Daniloff thoughtfully offers two number variations from which to choose. While this wouldn't have been a deal breaker for me I do appreciate being able to choose my elected numerical positions for the cards.
The deck also comes with an extra "carte blanche" card. I rarely include the extra card in my tarot readings and have omitted the wild card in this deck as well. For me, it just didn't fit.
Created in Italy, the titles of the Major Arcana are in Italian. This, of course, only lends to the authenticity and overall charm of the deck.
The Minor Arcana is completely without titles. This isn't much of a dilemma with the numbered cards, but I did find the Court cards somewhat baffling to begin with. However, after a little study it wasn't difficult to identify the differences. For instance, each station is assigned a particular type of symbolism, for which the artist does not deviate. All of the Pages present flags, the Knights present shields, the Queens have crowns overhead, and the Kings have castles behind them. Upon further exploration you will notice additional differences as well.
Layered with astrological and elemental symbolism, the Daniloff Tarot more than keeps with the essential tarot meanings, it accentuates them. The deck strongly follows the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition, making it fairly easy to read. However, because there are some subtle differences (such as no titles on the Minor cards) you may wish to familiarize yourself with the deck before using them for divination.
While scholars and academics will most definitely appreciate the deck's deeper, more profound occult meanings, I would also recommend this deck for tarot readers of any level.
As for me, the Tarot by Alexander Daniloff is everything I desire in a deck, aesthetically and academically. The images are powerful as well as charming. They remind me of tales sung by minstrels in the olden times of Ladies and lords, Kings and Queens, castles and court jesters, and Knights on dangerous quests.
Alexander Daniloff is an amazingly talented artist, and has created here, a true masterpiece. For more information about his tarot deck and his extraordinary artwork, you can visit his website at www.daniloff-art.it.