el Tarot de Marcelino
Created and Self-published By Lynyrd Narciso
(Commentary by Arnell Ando)

0-Fool This delightful set was a gift from my collector friend, Mike Barker and while looking over the beautiful packaging and charming cards of this 78 card deck I immediately felt inspired to write a review. el Tarot de Marcelino was destined to be a hand-crafted set due to its unique style and old world charm which lends itself wonderfully to a more personal style of presentation. Ly Narciso explains that el Tarot de Marcelino is a pun on both the ancient "Marseilles" Tarot deck and the notorious Spanish film "Marcelino, Pan y Vino." The titles on the Major Arcana are in Spanish and are not numbered, but those familiar with traditional decks such as the Marseilles should have no trouble identifying the cards. The Pips, following the Marseilles tradition, have symbols rather than scenes. The four Aces are striking in design as are the court cards. These are also titled in Spanish, with cards 2-10 having the required number of  same-style symbols and the number of the card written in a complimentary font. The court cards are easy to identify, for the Page, Knight, Queen and King hold the symbol and pose associated with their card. I was charmed to discover this deck has a special bonus card, The Happy Squirrel, a nod no doubt to the Simpson's episode when Lisa has an unnerving encounter with a Tarot reader.

Personally I don't tend to go for overly cute decks, but this one, while undeniably adorable, has a consistency of character and subtle wit and this matched with the dark earthy tones and old timey printing style make it a comfortable fit. The design of this deck is a similar look to woodcut print. I especially appreciate the art of the Major Arcana, which while traditional, has its own unique personality. The cards are more the size of playing card decks at 4" High by 3" Wide (10.16 x 7.62 cm). The background of the cards serves also as a narrow brown border, and since the Majors and Court cards are teaming with imagery, they do well with this bit of graceful space around the edges. VI-The Lovers Everything about this set is focused on a certain look and theme which is a refreshing change from so many mass produced decks that seem to be slapped together, while cutting costs at every turn. The box which appears to be hand-crafted (and if in indeed it is, I marvel at its perfection), is made of sturdy cardstock and opens like a book, having dark colored binding on the side that remains closed. The brown cardstock of the box has  a delicate floral print that lends a cheery touch. A burgundy colored ribbon is glued to the back and ties the set together nicely.

The backs are a pretty yet simple floral design which is reversible. The corners are rounded and the deck seems like it would hold up rather well to light shuffling (though I plan to treasure it in its pristine condition). The cards are printed on brown 'kraft' cardstock and have a light protective coating though the finish is matte (in keeping with the old-fashioned appeal of the deck). The deck has a title card and a signed and numbered signature card. It is limited to 70 copies. There is no LWB with individual descriptions and interpretations of the cards however the set includes a 6 page brown colored leaflet which explains the 'ancient history' of this deck. It reads...

This remarkable series of images was discovered among other personal possessions of one Constance, Duchess of L_____ (one of them a very telling diary filled with local scandals and intrigues of the time). They were presumably a copy of an older set of woodcuts, as several other sets of cards with similar faces have been noted dating from earlier periods, elsewhere –though none with all 78 cards intact. There are many speculations regarding their date of creation. Most scholars however would agree to dating them within the 15th century. XV-The Devil

Since during those times, engravers did not generally sign their work, experts have found it convenient to refer to the creator of these images as the Not-So-Master of Cutesy Cards. His style is characterized by a general pudginess of the faces of the figures, a charming imbalance in eye sizes, and four-fingered hands. These, experts say, are very telling signs of his inclination to the occult. Little is known of his background, though with the themes and general mood of his creations, it is widely believed that he was left-handed, walked with a slight limp on the right leg, had an extra finger in his right hand, slept poorly, was a frequented patron of taverns and was confined to an asylum more than once in his lifetime...

XVIII-Moon Back of Cards I recommend this deck to Tarot artists, scholars and collectors, especially those with an eye for unique design, who cherish specialty boxes and decks made with personal attention and care. It is currently available but seeing as there are only 70 sets in existence and it is reasonably priced, all things considered, I imagine it will be soon be out of print (a link where to order and a bit about the artist is included below).

el Tarot de Marcelino

Ace of Swords Page of Wands Happy Squirrel Card

Lynyrd Narciso is an accomplished artist with several decks of varying styles and mediums to his credit, including the colorful, pop hit Vanessa Tarot, published by US Games in 2007. He is beloved in the Tarot community where he often shares his works in progress in Tarot hubs such as the Aeclectic, and Tarot Collector's Forum. Ly also contributes to and co-hosts collaborative decks. He continues to inspire and intrigue Tarot artists, enthusiasts and collectors alike. He currently resides in the Philippines.

Arnell Ando