Old, older, oldest

 Behind-the-scenes look at how the Musterberg deck of tarot cards are made, showing production proof and pantone color swatches. Image courtesy Curio and Co. www.curioandco.com

When recreating an object that has had many different lives, you have to ask yourself: Which history do you want?

It was fun watching the production come together for the Musterberg Tarot Cards. It started with going back through the Pennyland archives, which were made available to us by the Steepleback family who owned Pennyland. However, the cards used at Pennyland were themselves a reproduction of a deck created in the 1700s, so it was clear we’d have to go back a little farther.

As it happened, the family still has that original deck, too, which was an amazing opportunity to get to see. The faces of the original cards were printed in black and then hand colored in water colors. The backs were printed with a dark blue-green (we matched it to today’s Pantone 3145U).

One big question we had to answer for ourselves during the project was this: Which version of the cards’ long history would we try to capture, the way they looked when brand new in the 1700s or the way they looked when in use at Pennyland? In the end, we decided to aim for something that would show how the appearance of the cards changed as their history continued a little closer into our own century.

Furthermore, since the wear and tear was different on each individual card, especially the backs, we had to decide if we would print them all with the same wear pattern to create one card back, or would we preserve the individuality of each card and leave them all different?

You can probably imagine that it didn’t take us very long to decide to preserve their individuality. The history of our relationship with and use of objects is something our CEO Mr. Druthers is particularly fascinated with – and why he finds “mint in the box” toys so sad. So naturally, we used scans from the front AND back of each card, and it certainly was a little crazy keeping them all straight!

Of course, this means that he cards can’t strictly be recommended for tournament play, since the more sharp-eyed may learn to recognize the backs of specific cards and cheat a little bit. But the Musterberg tarot cards are no more worn than your average deck kept in the game closet at home and I’m sure inventive older brothers and sisters figured out the same hack with those cards. And anyway, we’re talking about 79 separate patterns of wear. If you can memorize that and use it to your advantage, get to Vegas right away – just don’t get caught, please.