Sola Busca deck is regarded as the first and only fully (scene) illustrated tarot deck prior to the December 10th, 1909 appearance of the Waite-Smith deck. Created in 1491 it existed centuries before any of the Marseilles’ variations, which exploded in popularity and became the standard tarot of most of Europe and even England. Several of the images from the Sola Busca deck are eerily similar to the Waite-Smith release. While we are working on a giant timeline of image creation and alteration (a master graphic of when each tarot image image first appeared—to the best of our knowledge) here are a few interesting comparisons to help you see how and where ideas come from, and thus how and where interpretations of ideas (e.g. “traditional tarot meanings derived from the images on the cards”) have come down to us. In divinatory tarot “art changes the meaning of the card,” as each new artist changes the images to suit their world view, and their artistic skill and style. The art in the tarot is fluid, as artists and designers morph the overall system to meet their needs and desires. The most standardized systems are the Marseilles and Waite-Smith currently, with oracle decks (non “tarot-system-exact” divination decks) trying to upset the apple cart every year. Below are images comparing various cards from the SB and WS decks.he
Please also check out:
Marseilles vs. Waite-Smith
Oswald Wirth vs. Waite-Smith
Waite-Smith images from the collection of Dusty White (deck creation 1910)
NOTE: The purpose of this table of images is not to show direct causality but instead to show similarities. Tarot images were somewhat standardized by the time that Pixie drew Art’s cards in 1909, but this was after hundreds of years of various artists trying out new things in tarot and “tarot-like” decks. While it is possible to see exact similarities in some cards, other cards seem to borrow from various sources, notably “unrelated cards.” It is impossible to track down every source reference of the images Pam drew, but we can tell by inference from where she derive most of her ideas thanks to the existence of older decks and masterpieces of art.