de Laurence "Yellow Square" deck - House of White Tarot Museum & Research Library
The first editon of de Laurence tarot decks came with blank backs and square corners, and were packaged in a plain white cardboard box. These were originally only sold through his retail mail order catalog.
de Laurence, square, yellow, tarot, 1916, Rider,
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de Laurence “Yellow Square” deck

This deck is a showcase of American arrogance, ingenuity, opportunism, and a clever interpretation of the law that regulators rubber stamp in the name of commerce. It is simultaneously everything wonderful about capitalism and everything horrible about intellectual property theft, the inequities of product distribution inherent in a global market, and how war ruins everything. This deck appeared in 1916 in Chicago, and took the world by storm while London was drowning in a hail of German bullets and bombs (this deck, and its heirs dominated tarot sales in the United States and abroad during both World Wars and a few smaller ones after those).


L.W. de Laurence fell in love with the idea of a tarot deck that could be sold in his hugely popular Sears & Roebuck style catalog, and his two-page spread for this deck and the accompanying book (also plagiarized from Waite) are legendary and pervasive. Like it or not, this deck and the ones that replaced it spawned America’s fascination with the tarot. L.W. stepped in when Waite dropped the ball. Fair or not, the metaphysical and occult worlds (in fact the entire “New Age” movement) owes a massive debt to “the Yankee Pirate.” Read more about this fascinating man here and his adventures.