Review by Tom LeBlanc, CTC
The Hanson-Roberts Tarot Deck is often a favorite
deck for novice and seasoned readers alike.
Accomplished artist Mary Hanson-Roberts' primary goal appears
to have been to provide an aesthetically pleasing,
manageable deck that is a very faithful rendition of the
Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) system. Toward that end, her use of colored
pencil, printed on high-quality plastic-coated card stock,
provides a deck is quite durable with colors that are quite
vivid without becoming garish.
It is easy to see why
this deck is intensely popular, especially among novice
readers. Hanson-Robert's artwork is, of course,
extraordinary. In addition, the small size of the deck (roughly
playing-card size: approximately 3-15/16" x 2-3/8") facilitates
handling. This is a particular advantage not only for
readers who find the larger decks cumbersome, but also for
those who prefer to allow the querant, who is likely to
be unaccustomed to handling the
"larger-than-standard-size" of most Tarot decks, to shuffle prior to reading.
Although Hanson-Robert's faithfulness to the RWS system and
small-sized cards is often considered an advantage, it appears
that she took little opportunity for her own creativity
to add to the system. Further, although the size of
the deck indeed facilitates handling for many, one may
get the impression that the small size of the cards
required that many symbolic details may have been omitted
to prevent the cards from appearing overly "crowded."
In short, where the Hanson-Roberts Tarot has
advantages in aesthetics and size, it appears to have
significant deficits in salient symbolic representation.
deck is usually accompanied by a standard little white
book (LWB), which is adequate in that it provides a
brief description of some of the traditional card
meanings and the "Celtic Cross" spread. Consistent with
the popularity of this deck, however, there are two
companion books available specifically for these cards.
Tarot Unveiled: The Method to its Magic by Laura Clarson
is illustrated with the Hanson-Roberts deck and
details a marvelous and easy-to-comprehend basic system
for Tarot interpretation. Additionally, Susan
Hansson's The Hanson-Roberts Tarot Companion has also been
met with considerable accolades.
In sum, the
Hanson-Roberts Tarot is an ideal deck for the beginning reader
and more seasoned readers who prefer a faithful,
attractive, rendition of the RWS system. It's size makes for
ease of handling as well as portability, which should
please both novices and experienced readers alike.
While learning to read Tarot as a young child, Tom LeBlanc had no idea what role Tarot would one day play in his life. Having grown up providing readings to family and friends, he took his trusty deck to college and discovered that he could partially support himself by reading for others. Now a Certified Tarot Consultant with over 25 years experience, a Ph.D. in Psychology, Tom enjoys providing occasional readings in addition to writing. Tom is currently involved in designing a Tarot Certification course for the College of the Sacred Mists.
Review by Andryh
Remember the saying, "Lord, make my words sweet,
for tomorrow, I may have to eat them"? It certainly
applies in this situation. The Hanson-Roberts Tarot has
long been the subject of my disdain. I was quick to
dismiss it as shallow, sentimental and above
all, saccharine. Not a deck for serious study...but one for
slumber parties and teenage girls. Today, I'm sitting
down before a large plate of crow with fork and knife
in hand (where's the catsup?). The fact is, I've
discovered that I like this deck... Actually I LOVE this
I added this deck to my collection after viewing
some scans of it on this very site! I've looked at
those scans on several occassions and yet the cards
never "spoke" to me. However, when I viewed the scans
on this most recent occassion, it hit me quite
unexpectedly: Maybe there was more to this little deck than I
had at first assumed. My curiosity got me. The next
day I was at the local bookstore. By the time I
reached my car, I had stripped the deck of its shrink
wrap and had the cards sliding out of the box. It was
one of those marvelous moments of discovery. I sat in
my car with my mouth open, utterly awed at how potent
these cards were! This is a great deck, and one most
worthy of serious tarot student.
Perhaps the most
stunning aspect of the deck is the startling humanity
expressed in the portrayal of each of the characters. Their
eyes sparkle with such life. Unlike so many decks
whose characters can resemble the same person (just with
different hair!), the people in this deck all have a
distinctiveness and depth.
I know that this deck is often
viewed as too cute and happy (I was on that bandwagon),
but a close inspection of this deck reveals a
marvelous scope of emotion. The five of pentacles is a
great example of the deck's more somber side. Never
have I seen this card convey poverty and suffering so
personally or with such power. It really packs a punch.
Another favorite among the many wonderful cards in this
deck is the 'strength' card. It is so stunning...A
woman whose eyes are closed, whose face reflects utterly
unshakable peace, carresses an equally docile lion. His huge
head lilts in her small hands. Wow. Its just
It is true that the children in this deck are
almost caricaturized. They have rounded, cherub-like
faces. I'll admit that this was the biggest obstacle
between me and this deck. I detest the sentimentalization
of children. But somehow, after viewing the deck as
a whole, and actually working with it, I find the
children's images tolerable and occassionally appealing. The
little child featured in the ten of pentacles is just
Hanson-Roberts based her cards on the
classic Rider-Waite deck, with little deviation of
symbolism. This would be a superb deck to learn on. The art
is well executed throughout. There is no lapse in
quality from the major to minor arcana. The entire deck
reflects the artist's full talent and dedication. I am
sure that this deck won't appeal to everyone (what deck
does?), but if you are the least bit attracted to it, I
can't imagine anyone being disappointed with it. If you
want a deck full of beauty, drama, and the fire of the
human spirit, this deck is a wonderful choice.
Review by Sally Ann
The Hanson-Robert Tarot Deck is great for the novice and seasoned readers alike, and is perfect for readings where the questioner is new to the Tarot. Beautiful illustrated colored pencil art work by Mary Hanson-Roberts, based on the Rider-Waite deck. The artwork is slightly medieval but softer looking and still keeping with the imagery. The use of the colored
pencil and printed on high quality plastic coated card stock provides a deck that is durable with colors that are vivid.
It comes in a deck set of 78 cards and a well written book. The cards are the size of regular playing cards which makes it easier to work with and handle. The back of the card is Turquoise with a fancy yellow and pink scrollwork. One feature that this deck has is that the titles of each card are printed at the bottom in five languages. The English is centered, surrounded by German, Italian, French and Spanish titles for each card. This means that most people will be able to use them with out having to translate to whatever language you are the most comfortable with.
The numbers and titles follow the Rider-Waite standard form, although Strength is 8 and Justice is 11. The minor cards are traditional suits of Cup, Rods (instead of Wands), Swords, and Pentacles. The court cards are still King, Queen, Knight and Page. The Pages look like girls at times, it may be to help with the male-female balance in the Courts.
There are two companion books available for these cards. Tarot Unveiled: the Method to its Magic by Laura Clarson and illustrated with Hanson-Roberts deck which details an easy to comprehend basic system for Tarot interpretation. And the deck set has its own.
The most stunning aspect of the deck is the startling humanity expressed in the portrayal of each of the characters. Their eyes sparkle with life, unlike so many decks whose characters can resemble the same person but with just different hair. The people in this deck all have a distinctiveness and depth.
For the querent who is likely to be unaccustomed to handling the larger than standard size finds this deck much easier to shuffle prior to a reading. It is the one deck I use most often when doing readings, for I find it friendly and accurate. It is a pretty deck with medieval flavor, which the client finds comfortable. Its size makes it easy for handling as well as portability. I would recommend this one for your collection of Tarot decks.
Sally Ann is a Professional Tarot Reader and Clairvoyant, who has been doing readings for the past 20 years.