Accept No Substitutes

Several of you have asked about possible differences or similarities between my Original Arthur Rackham Oracle, and something called "The Rackham Tarot," to which I have always responded simply, “I have nothing to do with the Rackham Tarot.”

Some of you even believe that I created and publish "The Rackham Tarot." Please don't insult me by making that suggestion. "The Rackham Tarot" is an inferior product created to cash in on the success of my oracle.

I published the first edition of my Arthur Rackham Oracle in 2015: it’s been a successful deck and has been reviewed favorably many times on YouTube and elsewhere. Earlier this year Lo Scarabeo announced and published its own “Rackham Tarot” at a price point considerably less than what I could possibly offer my oracle. I have to admit that this was rather an irksome development for me. This is in large part why I funded the Revised & Refined second edition of what I now call The Original Arthur Rackham Oracle on Kickstarter: so that I could offer a product that was superior to Lo Scarabeo’s at a price point that was at least in the ballpark of their cheaper decks.

And yet people still seem confused by the different products. Really, there’s no comparison. Not only is my Original Arthur Rackham Oracle a more effective and useable oracle deck, with better production values... it’s also far more respectful of the artist and his work.

There’s a reason why I didn’t create my deck as a TAROT pack in the first place. Tarot has rules. Tarot has specific guidelines and needs, whereas with a free-form oracle, the deck can be created around the art. To shoehorn Rackham’s work into Tarot’s rules would force the deck designer to make sometimes severe changes to that artwork. At least, that’s what I believed: and Lo Scarabeo’s product proves me right.

The Lo Scarabeo deck alters Arthur Rackham’s original art in a number of ways, including not just cropping and re-framing the original paintings, but in some cases re-drawing and even airbrushing entire figures out of the composition.

Here are some side-by side comparisons between my Original Arthur Rackham Oracle and Lo Scarabeo's Rackham Tarot.

As you can plainly see, Lo Scarabeo first attempted to copy my overall design by placing the illustrations on a "vintage paper" background, with a framing device top and bottom. But they have made no effort at all to restore the artwork from their badly yellowed source material, and additionally the artwork is either scanned at lower resolution, or is reproduced from an inferior source. And although the image appears to be larger, the fact is that the art has been dramatically cropped, especially on the left and right sides.

Here again, the Lo Scarabeo card (right) is dingy and dirty, with no attempt at restoration made. The image is even more dramatically cropped, and Rackham's signature has been airbrushed out. The Original Arthur Rackham Oracle presents the same image in its original form and aspect ratio, with the color beautifully restored... and with unique, fresh card meanings printed right on the card. At right, Lo Scarabeo have tried to suggest that the image is somehow suitable for the 10 of Pentacles (or coins) in Tarot. It is not.

This example is even more egregious. Not only does it share all of the problems and issues that we have already seen with the cards above, but Lo Scarbeo's designers have gone so far as to airbrush out an entire figure, that of the girl being dragged along by her father, in order to shoe-horn this image into the Tarot's Major Arcana as "The Hermit." That and the even more dramatic cropping are, I believe, appalling liberties to take with Rackham's original art. But even if you don't share my principles, the card still represents a rotten design for "The Hermit," and a lousy job of color handling and "restoration."

I could offer many more "apples to apples" comparisons, but it would just be repetitious. The differences are obvious. And the moral is, 

"Don't Be Fooled."

Lo Scarabeo is a big company with a lot of resources behind it, whereas I am just one guy working alone and doing everything myself. Still and all, The Original Arthur Rackham Oracle is a vastly superior product. Sure, it costs approximately $13 - $14 more than the Lo Scarabeo deck, but offers so much more: a unique, open-ended, thoughtful system, more versatile than Tarot, with better production values, created with love and respect for the artist. It's a deck you will appreciate more with each usage, and one that will grow in value over the years. As the title to this post says, "Accept No Substitutes." 

Thank you for your support!

--Thorn. |



  • Cheryl

    Just ordered the first edition of the original Arthur Rackman Oracle from this website and I wouldn’t even consider buying the Lo Scarebo tarot. There is no comparison between the 2! Lo Scarebo should not be altering the original artwork like that either.

  • Elle

    I ordered the Racham Tarot at the same time, thinking that the two would complement each other. How wrong I was. The Lo Scarabeo images are dingy and hard to see, lacking in the beauty of your Oracle images. That’s just the beginning of the differences, both aesthetically and in terms of usability. The Lo Scarabeo is on its way back. Many thanks for your work.

  • Linda Thompson-Mills

    Nothing compares with your Rackham decks. They are stunning. Versions one and two. Card stock, card meanings, clarity of artwork… Brilliant! Mike drop…

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