The Pictorial Key to the Tarot—was, in hindsight, Waite’s magnum opus. It is not without its flaws, but then again, who isn’t, so why should these two books be any different? The important thing here is that Waite chose to release what he considered secret information (with constant hints at what he wasn’t disclosing) after his work on the Tarot of the Bohemians, which was (re)published by Rider at the same time as his Key and deck. The Key to the Tarot is Waite’s direct contribution to tarot literature. He authored many other books, and translated even more, but this is by far his seminal work on the tarot itself. These are his beliefs, his words. The text is dry and boring and stuffy, but it has been read by more people than any other tarot book in history. It has been published by dozens of publishers, from quick buck artists to the major publishers of the world. Most of what the public believes about the tarot comes directly from this book, or from people who cut their teeth reading this book. In many way it is the Think and Grow Rich of the tarot world.he Key to the Tarot—and later,
Our focus here is on the Rider editions, from 1909 to 1975, but even more specifically the various print runs that accompanied the Rider (Waite-Smith) decks from 1909–1939. There are officially five versions of the original Waite-Smith deck, but it turns out there are many more versions of the Key to the Tarot (or KtT) that came with them. Below are images, stats, and short descriptions of what we know of them. Please note that The Pictorial Key to the Tarot has its own page, and its own messes to clean up. Click here if you want to see all of the various Keys to the Tarot in one giant table.