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1JJ Swiss Tarot Cards


On the Box: The 1JJ Swiss Tarot Deck is reprinted in full colour from woodcuts based upon original tarot designs.

Complete with Instruction Brochure by Stuart R. Kaplan, America's Leading Tarot Authority. This deck is complete with 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana Cards. The four suits of the Minor Arcana cards are Swords, Batons, Cups and Coins. 

Pack Information: Complete with 78 cards and a 10 page mini booket.

Size of Cards: 111 x 61 mm

Minor Arcana Cards Individually Illustrated? No

Staff Review by Brett Almond

The IJJ deck is a reproduction of an 1860 woodcut deck and was the first deck that US Games (a major Tarot card manufacturer) published. All descriptions were written in French but in this deck are translated into English. The minor arcana (ie. numbers 1-10 of the four suits) are what is often termed "pip" cards, ie. they do not have individual pictorial illustrations (they show just the number of cups, wands, swords or pentacles), which in my view makes them unsuitable for complete beginners. The major arcana and court cards are illustrated but they do lack the symbolism and visual cues that many more modern decks contain.

The IJJ is one of the better known "historical" decks and still remains popular today.

Guest Review by Vernon Marshall

I was very surprised when I received this Tarot deck. I expected something new as it is a deck with which I was not hitherto familiar. It is not a new deck at all but a slight variation of the classic Tarot de Marseilles with reprints of original woodcut images. Unfortunately, there is no reference to the origins of the deck except a title on the box that refers to “1JJ Swiss Tarot Cards” which are apparently “Made in Belgium!”

This deck is in English though there is a chart in the instruction booklet indicating the original French names of the cards. The cards of the Major Arcana, not surprisingly, show characters in mediaeval costumes and cards of bright colours. The cards of the Minor Arcana depict no real pictures of anything except the objects stated by the cards in question. In other words, the Nine of Cups, for example, will carry a picture of nine cups, pure and simple, although there is a lot of fancy decorative artwork too. This deck is harking back to a period in Tarot history long before the explosion of the many decks inspired by the innovations of the Rider-Waite deck in 1910 with its detailed pictures on the Minor Arcana cards. This deck has similar characteristics to the Classic Tarot. The pictures are not identical but they are similar and they have something of the same quality of artwork. Curiously, the Two of Pentacles in the two decks bear the same words, “Fabrique de Cartes Schaffhouse.” This is no doubt a reference to a card-producing company in the Swiss canton of Schaffhausen, thus suggesting that the cards are Swiss as indicated by the title on the box, “The 1JJ Swiss Tarot Cards.”

The cards are attractive if you are inspired by classical imagery. They are of standard size and are thus easy to handle. I miss the artwork of the Minor Arcana in more modern decks so I do find it a struggle to find the inspiration to interpret these cards. With help, however, they are as good as any other deck for any experienced Tarot user. The pictures are standard and traditional and will ring many bells for the Classical Tarot aficionado. That last point is important, however. I would suggest that this is not an easy deck for a beginner or for anyone who enjoys the much more detailed symbolism of modern decks. Nor have I found this Tarot deck a useful tool for meditation or for one-card readings. The box does, however, refer to the cards as a “Fortune-Telling deck.”

The biggest issue I have with this deck is the poor quality of the instruction sheet. In two places on the box it says, “complete with instruction(s).” The booklet, however, is very basic. It is not a book, so can avoid the criticism of being compared with the notorious “little white books” or LWBs that strive to explain so much with so little space. The instructions here are on a sheet of paper folded over to give us ten pages. It is not the style of presentation of the information that is the problem, however. There are no instructions on how to interpret the Minor Arcana cards, yet it is precisely these cards, with their limited artwork, that would necessarily require more help. Beginners are advised to use only the Major Arcana cards at first and then to obtain a copy of a book by Stuart R. Kaplan which is, we are told, “the only complete and authentic guide to the spreading and interpretation of the popular 1JJ deck.” I know that when I was first struggling with my Tarot cards, many years ago, I was bewildered by the Minor Arcana cards of my classical deck and I needed every bit of help I could get. To be told that I needed another book in order to get going would have been a bit of an off-putter.

The instructions for the Major Arcana are a little inadequate also. There is a brief chart with just a few words as suggested meanings. For example, the Hermit Card, Number 9, gives us the following: “Prudence. Withdrawal. Circumspection. Caution. Solicitude.” That is all that is offered. The other cards are treated similarly, with no complete sentences or nuances explained, just a little collection for each card of one word explanatory meanings. There is also only one spread detailed in the instruction booklet, an unnamed ten-card spread to be used only by reading cards from the Major Arcana. The beginner could also be a little confused about the occasional reference to the “Greater Arcana.” I am certain that that is just an alternative title for the Major Arcana but I am not sure that a beginner should be faced with such a potential cause of perplexity. It seems that poor quality proof reading was responsible for such an obvious stumbling block to comprehension.

I acknowledge that I do sound somewhat negative about this deck. That is not quite the reality, however. I know that there are many users of the Tarot that find inspiration in the archetypal figures that have been of value for hundreds of years. It was a classical deck that got me started many years ago and I do feel that more Tarot experts could do well to go back to their roots from time to time. It is important as we experiment with more and more new and imaginative decks to remember what the old Tarot looked like and the culture surrounding its usage. It is also sometimes a tendency to get carried away with the symbolism on more modern card decks and a simpler deck can allow for more space to free oneself from modern day images. This deck is quite appropriate for divination for experienced users. For the less experienced it is also appropriate if a good Tarot book is used as well. I have many Tarot decks on my shelf but I have always made sure that a more traditional deck features amongst the collection. The 1JJ Swiss Tarot Deck serves that purpose well.

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6 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews

  • 5
    The most beautiful deck in the world

    Posted by Sam Xavier Therapy/Sheffield on 15th Jun 2018

    The 1JJ deck is, in my opinion, the most beautiful tarot deck in the world. It's well drawn but unpretentious, primitive but well thought out. Every single card is unambiguous and allows the reader to concentrate. I've had a few of these sets in the past, and had to say goodbye under very strange and sad circumstances. For me, this is the welcome return of an old friend. I am absolutely not a spiritual being; I don't even believe in the existence of the 'soul', as defined by almost every religion. I do, however, recognize the tarot as a very useful toolkit to explore and refine thought processes and overcome obstacles. The mundane bit: My order was delivered promptly, much sooner than I expected. Packaging was good enough and recyclable, which is always a plus. Overall, I'd give the store and its delivery service top marks.

  • 5
    I love this deck

    Posted by Annette on 13th Mar 2013

    I love this deck. They were the first pack I learnt back when I was 16 (I'm now 38). They are challenging to read as the pip cards don't have pretty pictures, however I found this to be advantageous as it forced me to learn the meanings off by heart. Be warned however that the booklet doesn't give the meanings for the minor arcana so you'll need to buy a good book if you are new to tarot. I adore the historic feel of the pack, it feels good to be using them again.

  • 5
    I had to get them

    Posted by Valerie on 12th Jul 2012

    After seeing a lady reading with these cards I became fascinated by them and knew I had to get them. My order came next day (thank you). The colours are really vibrant and when I held and studied them it felt like I'd known them before, they have such a sense of history and mystique. I am used to the Druid Craft cards which are wonderful but felt so drawn to the 1JJ swiss Tarot. They do not have pictures on every card, that dosn't worry me as I find I am not distracted away from what I pick up from the cards. Its so weird that I feel I've worked with them before (which I havn't) it was like saying hello again to old friends. I call these my 'come of age cards!' whereby I am ready now for them to reveal their own secret knowledge to me. Most intriguing. So pleased I have them, probably not every one's cup of tea, but they do give some wonderful readings. Best regards to all and your superb service xx

  • 5
    So special to me

    Posted by Sadie, Norfolk on 10th Feb 2010

    I have a set of these cards that where passed down to me via my Nan, bless her. I used to love it when I was little girl and nanny would let me play with her cards. I just new they were so special. At the moment my dad has the cards at his, although I know they'll come back to me one day and I can't wait to play with them again and have my fond memories of me and nanny. Blessed be xxx

  • 5
    Bought Some More

    Posted by Anne on 13th May 2009

    When I was 14, I was on my way to a friends house when I saw some cards wrapped in a ribbon in an outside street bin, I picked them up not knowing what they were and enjoyed the pictures and the feel of them, but I couldn't understand what they said nor did. A few weeks later my step dad found them in my bedroom and ripped and threw them out saying tarot cards were evil, it was the worse thing he could do for now I knew what they were and I went out and bought some more! 15 years later and I still read cards for my friends and sometimes their friends and myself, i have never needed to learn how to do it I have just been able to, I have tried other things like crystal balls and runes but they don't work for me, just the cards I truely believe those cards found me and 15 years later they found me again! I have 2 tarot decks, tarot of the witches and tarot of mermaids, and I came to this site looking for some crystals but I went straight to the tarot page looking at the historial ones, as soon as I saw the IIJ swiss deck my heart beat faster and when I looked at the deck closer I knew that the cards I had found so long ago and lost had been found again. I ordered them straight away and received them today, I held them and I know that I am about to do some amazing readings with these cards!

  • 5
    Cards That Don't Age

    Posted by Sue W on 10th Mar 2006

    I have had a deck of these fabulous cards since the 70's they were the first deck I ever bought and I wouldn't part with them..they have given me some great readings over the years!