Royal Fez Moroccan Deck                                                                            Review by Michele Jackson

This deck was conceived by Roland Berrill. "Who is Roland Berrill?", you are thinking. Well, he was the founder of Mensa. Per the little booklet that comes with the deck, "Berrill had a lifelong interest in various aspects of the occult, although not as a member of any special group. His particular interest was tarot and he believed a link existed between tarot, astrology and certain forms of gnosticism." Berrill commissioned an artist to draw his deck in the 1950's. He wanted the deck to "reflect the imagery of design prevalent in 12th century Fez". He believed that tarot symbolism was misunderstood after the fall of Fez Morocco in the 12th century. The Gypsies are also mentioned, though it is not clear whether he believed they were responsible for bringing tarot to Europe. The deck was originally published in a limited and numbered edition of 500, but both Berrill and the artist died before they could be distributed. The US Games version is a reproduction of the original.

The art is not the best I have seen. I don't care for the artist's rendering of faces. The style is similar to pen and ink drawings, though selected portions of the cards are colored, primarily in red, yellow, blue and green. Almost all of the people in the cards have yellow hair, though the Queen of Wands, with her green tresses is a notable exception. The Majors and Minors are all illustrated, and are very similar to Pamela Colman Smith's work. The Minors are not numbered, though if one is familiar with the Waite-Smith deck, the numbers will not be missed. The Majors are numbered very faintly at the bottom of each card, but unlike most decks, they are not named on the card.

The cards are very lightly coated with a matte finish. My deck is fairly old (back from the days when US Games was in NYC), so I don't know if newer printings are the same. The little booklet that comes with the deck is rather unremarkable providing a short background on the deck, upright and reversed divinatory meanings and the Celtic Cross spread. I recommend this deck for collectors, and those who are looking for a sedate Waite-Smith clone.

See more cards from the Royal Fez Moroccan

Royal Fez Moroccan Tarot
Published by US Games Systems, 179 Ludlow St., Stamford CT, 06902, (800)544-2637, Fax: (203)353-8431


Copyright 1996/97 Michele Jackson