This page is designed to help people who are collecting the Alchemical Tarot to identify the different editions. There are four editions identified below by the box cover, and the front and back of the Star card. I picked this card because it was the first one I designed for the deck and it was first published in a article in Gnosis Magazine before the deck came out.
The first edition of The Alchemical Tarot, called simply The Alchemical Tarot, was published in 1995 by Thorsons, the UK branch of HarperCollins. The original Lovers card I designed for the deck was considered too sexually explicit. So I redesigned it with the Lovers only kissing. Also I designed the cards to be the same proportions as the Waite Smith cards but the publisher wanted them wider. So I devised the border design with the columns to take up the extra width. It came in a boxed set with a book that I co-authored with Rosemary Ellen Guiley. That is why both our names were on the box, and the box is actually larger in relation to the cards than is pictured.
The second edition of The Alchemical Tarot was published under my publishing label, Hermes Publications, in 2007. This was called The Alchemical Tarot: Renewed. For this edition, I reproportioned the cards so that I did not need the border design. This allowed the imaged to take up a larger space on the card without making the card larger. I scanned all of the drawings into the computer, made improvements, and recolored them. I also included both versions of the Lovers card, the censored one and the one that was originally published, making it a 79 card deck.
The third edition was published by Hermes Publications in 2011. It was called The Alchemical Tarot; Renewed Third Edition. It again had 79 cards. I made improvements in the coloring and drawing and added some additional alchemical symbols. One of the biggest changes was the addition of wings on the beast depicted on the Eight of Swords, making it a combination of the four beasts of the Evangelists, depicted in the corners on the World card. The design for the back depicts the four elements and the two principles on a checked background. In 2011, Hermes Publications also published an updated and greatly expanded companion book, Alchemy and the Tarot: An Examination of the Historic Connection with a guide to the Alchemical Tarot. This book is now out of print. It was meant to be a guide to all versions of the Alchemical Tarot and even to the Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery, which is closely linked to the Alchemical Tarot.
The fourth edition was published by Hermes Publications in 2015, and it is called The Alchemical Tarot: Renewed Fourth Edition. For this 79 card edition I totally redesigned the coloring by placing the drawings on a tan antique paper and coloring them with layers of transparent color, like an antique alchemical manuscript. I again made improvements in the drawings and added many more alchemical symbols, particularly on the trumps, where I added a symbol for the alchemical operation that each card represents. These are all operations that are part of the Great Work of alchemy, the work that leads to the formation of the Philosopher;s Stone. I again redesigned the card back, which depicts the Lady Alchemia, the mother of the elements, the the material of the Stone. In 2017, I also published a new expanded and updated book that is a companion for this deck and for The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery. It is called The Tarot, Magic, Alchemy, Hermeticism, and Neoplatonism. It can be purchased on this site.
Other Tarot decks by Robert M. Place that are not sold on this site include, The Angels Tarot, The Tarot of the Saints, The Buddha Tarot, and the Vampire Tarot. You may be able to find copies of these on the Internet. I am also the author of The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination, which was given a stared review in Booklist and said to be maybe “the best book ever written on …the tarot.” Copies of this book can be found on the Internet and in many libraries.
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Issue 57 of the Restored Temple of Hermes was sent out on October 6, 2019. If you did not receive it you may need to send me an updated email address.