Tarot by Alexander Daniloff 2012, 3rd Edition – Deck Review
Artist: Alexander Daniloff
Let me begin by saying I absolutely love my 2nd Edition deck and I didn’t think it could get any better – I was wrong, This 3rd Edition is simply perfect.
Alexander Daniloff is an amazing Russian artist and illustrator who resides in Italy. His artwork is exquisite and stunning and I love all the little details he adds. He has painted the standards for knight games, has illustrated playbills for the Rovigo City Theater, and has participating in group and solo exhibitions. His work can be see in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vladivostok as well as galleries in Russia and Ukraine.
He has his own unique style. In my opinion it’s a remarkably balanced mix of several styles and movements.
This is his own words directly from his site, :
“For me art is a game, a spectacle, where I am an actor, director, set designer. Travels in real or mythological times and changes of decorations and costumes help me to create some sort of theatricalization as a way of artistic thinking, which allows me to achieve in painting a particular effect that shows playfulness and drama of life. My philosophical stance in art is to be as a liquid that can take any form, without losing quality.”
I believe he painted his first Tarot deck (Majors only) in 2010 titled Tarot by Alexander Daniloff 2010. The images used in the banner on my home page are from this deck. It’s an equally beautiful deck and the art style is so similar to his 2012 deck, that in my opinion, the Majors in both decks are interchangeable.
The next deck was a full deck, this deck titled Tarot by Alexander Daniloff 2012. I purchased both of these decks and I instantly fell in love with them. However, I loved them so much, I didn’t want to use them and I told Alexander that I wanted to frame them instead and this was his reply in his email: “But noooo! not frame them, plays with them. :)”…and I did.
Those two decks were printed on paper stock with a nice weight but the corners were straight and the card didn’t have much of a slip thus I was concerned the edges would get ruined. So while I did play with them, I shuffled and drew them very carefully! I was so concerned, I wouldn’t allow anyone else to touch either deck.
So, I was thrilled when I found out earlier this year, that he was coming out with a 3rd Edition and that the paper stock was professional quality with a smooth finish, the corners were now rounded, and the cards were smaller. In fact, the new size is identical to the U.S. Games’ Rider-Waite Tarot. Another change is the border and the back design.
Here are two pictures comparing the 2nd and 3rd editions (the 3rd edition is on the left):
The back design (can be seen at the end of this post) is still reversible, he kept the Star of David (Magen David), and the white border has been replaced with a thicker camel color and it has a faint design.
There are 80 cards; 78 plus one blank and one information card. They are Rider-Waite Smith inspired and the suits are associated with the same elements. This is obvious by symbols (see Aces) associated with the corresponding elements and astrological signs (see Courts) within the imagery. There is no companion book for any of his decks nor the common little white book. But, I honestly don’t miss it.
Something that is so unique and is found is both editions is all the Aces and the Court Cards are white; to be technical, they are white with the palest gray marbleizing effect that can barely be seen. He doesn’t explain why he does this but they do represent the true essence of the suit and this may possibly be the reason why he made them different. The color white symbolized purity therefore, it makes perfect sense. However, this is mere speculation on my part.
Here are the Aces:
- In the Ace of Wands, there is a lion (Leo) and a lizard symbolizing Fire.
- In the Ace of Cups, there is a big fish and a ship in the ocean symbolizing Water.
- In the Ace of Swords, there’s a hawk and clouds above, symbolizing Air.
- In the Ace of Pentacles, there’s a bull (Taurus), a tree, and above we see a castle, all symbolizing Earth.
Here are the royals from the Wands suit:
- All the Pages carry flags
- All the Knights have a shield
- All the Queens seem like they’re sitting on a throne with a draped canopy attached to her crown and there’s a charm with the corresponding playing card suit (Clubs for Wands)
- All the Kings have a coat of arms
Something else I find so interesting and quite curious is some of the figures look like paper dolls with moveable parts, while other figures do not.
Here are a few that do:
And here are a few that don’t:
This repeats throughout the deck in only 16 cards and I have not been able to figure out why some look like that and other don’t. A few commonalities I did noticed is all the twos and fives in the pips are drawn like this and none of the Courts are.
As you can see, Alexander does include many of the traditional and well-known RWS symbols in his cards and then there’s these wonderful additions. In the Hanged Man a hand (possibly of God) pushes on the limb he is hanging from and the bag of donated money on the ground as well as the mask on the Fool and in the Magician (see above).
These are some of my favorite cards and I have marked the added or different details in red circles that I find so special:
The High Priestess, The Lovers, The Chariot, and the Wheel of Fortune.
The Moon, The Tower, and Judgement
Justice, Temperance, Three of Wands, Four of Pentacles
This is literally the only card I don’t love in the deck but still like: Ten of Pentacles.
I don’t feel it depicts the interpretation of the strong family support and happiness or any family tradition or inheritance passed down. However, he’s definitely dressed opulently and with all of those rings, it’s clear that he is prosperous and financially secure. Therefore, it’s still successful nonetheless.
Here are the Sword suit’s pip card (Courts can be seen below):
I love the color progression as the struggles become more difficult and as you can see the cards reflect traditional RWS symbolism with a twist her and there.
Astrological Associations in the Court Cards:
Tarotists who use astrology in the Tarot associate the Knights, Queens, and Kings to one of the three quadruplicities or modalities – Cardinal, Fixed, or Mutable. However, not everyone agrees which Court corresponds to which one.
Personally, I do not use astrology as of yet, but I agree with this deck’s associations:
- Knights – Mutable signs
- Queens – Cardinals signs
- Kings – Fixed signs
Each Court card has a symbol representing their corresponding sign.
- Wand Court – Sagittarius’ arrow is on the Knight’s shield, the Aries ram is below the Queen, and Leo’s lion is on the King’s coat of arms and he’s wearing a skin.
- Cups Court – the two fish of Pisces is on the Knight’s shield, Cancer’s crab is below the Queen, and a scorpion (Scorpio) is on the King’s coat of arms.
- Swords Court – A man and a woman of similar height and build represents Gemini’s twins on the Knight’s shield, the scales of Libra is below the Queen, and the water bearer of Aquarius is on the King’s coat of arms.
- Pentacles Court – Virgo’s maiden is on the Knight’s shield, Capricorn’s goat is below the Queen, and the bull of Taurus is below the King.
Alexander Daniloff’s signature:
You may or may not have noticed something that looks like symbols throughout his cards – it is his signature.
This deck would be a great deck for Tarot readers of all levels. Alexander Daniloff carefully includes all the necessary objects and symbols for you to easily read the card’s imagery. However, there are a few cards that may be confusing to the absolute beginner such as the Five of Swords (see above) which does not show those who were defeated in the background walking away, leaving their Swords to the winner; the Ten of Pentacles for reasons I mentioned earlier, and the Nine of Swords looks as though the women wants to stab herself and while depression is an issue, it’s usually not that severe. These are the only cards I can see being a possible issue; again, only for the absolute beginner.
I believe this deck as a whole, including the special additions and twists on traditional images, will incite your intuition and will find these cards engaging, delightful, and fulfilling.
This deck in packaged in a envelope type of box and is shrink wrapped.
The front is in the featured image of this post.
Blank card, Info card, RWS card (for size)
The Deck Structure and Cardstock:
All the Majors are titled in Italian with Roman numerals. The Pips have their numbers placed within the image and changes in each card. The Royal cards are not titled.
The cards stock is quite nice; it’s professional quality 300gsm aqueous coated (smooth finish) and to me the finish is semi-matte. It has a slight slip and bend (but not too much) and it’s easy to shuffle them ‘table riffle’ style (my personal favorite) without worrying about the edge or corners getting ripped. It also fans easily.
Deck Type: Tarot, RWS inspired. 78 cards
Majors: Il Folle (Fool) 0, La Forza Vlll (Strength) and La Giustizia Xl (Justice)
Illustrated and Painted: Alexander Daniloff
Card Size: 2.75″ x 4.75″ (70mm x 121mm) identical to Rider-Waite (U.S. Games Inc.)
Back Design: Reversible (below)
Alexander Daniloff’s 2012 3rd Edition can be seen here and purchased here.
This deck is only available through the artist himself and you must contact him first. I have only had a few interactions with him through email and he is such a lovely, kind person.
Note: Alexander was kind enough to share my review on his Facebook Page. I was honored with his post and the compliments he gave me regarding this review. I wanted to give his deck the review it deserved and I’m so happy he’s pleased.