How to spot fake tarot cards
Unfortunately, the questions “Are my tarot cards fake?” and “How can I tell if my cards are real?” are being asked more and more frequently today as scammers take advantage of online shoppers.
Like everything else for sale on the Internet, there’s a possibility those tarot cards for sale online may be cheap knock-offs.
So how are we supposed to tell if a tarot deck is the real thing or not?
Here are 7 things to look for when you order a set of tarot cards to know if you got the real thing.
Tarot card dimensions
There’s no universal size for tarot cards, but traditionally the dimensions of tarot cards are around 2.75 inches x 4.75 inches (70mm x 102mm). Many modern decks use varying dimensions depending on the tarot artwork, but generally speaking, good quality tarot cards are significantly larger than regular playing cards.
By contrast standard poker playing cards are much smaller than tarot cards, measuring just 2.5 inches x 3.5 inches (roughly 64 by 89 mm). And bridge-sized playing cards are even smaller, measuring 2.25 inches x 3.5 inches (roughly 57 by 89 mm).
Dimensions of a fake tarot card deck
Many knock-off tarot cards will use a standard playing card size to save money. While there are some “mini size” tarot cards on the market which are intentionally smaller, if you thought you were getting full-sized tarot cards and got a much smaller deck that looks more like regular playing cards, then there’s a good chance your deck is fake.
Tarot card thickness
Another area where cheap knock-offs skimp on quality is with the paper stock or card stock used for printing the cards.
Because a good set of tarot cards is something you’ll likely own for many, many years, the quality of the card stock really matters. By contrast, playing cards are often printed on a much lighter grade of stock. Light grade cards are more easily damaged and creased, and get dog-eared more easily.
How thick is the card stock of a fake tarot card deck?
A good set of tarot cards will usually be printed on at least 100lb card stock. Many premium decks will use even higher weights.
If you bought a fake tarot deck printed on cheap paper, the thinness of the card stock is probably one of the first things you’ll notice.
Tarot card corners and cheap knock-off tarot cards
It almost goes without saying that your tarot cards will have cut, rounded corners. Rounded corners make your cards easy to handle, and easy to shuffle. The corners will also last longer and get dog-eared less when they’re nicely rounded.
Corners of a fake tarot card deck
If you expected rounded corners and find that your deck has square cut corners — there’s a good chance your deck is fake. However, keep in mind that there are some modern decks which do use square-cut corners. Typically, if the corners are intentionally square cut, the publisher will use an extremely thick / heavy grade of card stock. So the combination of square cut corners and flimsy paper is a good indication of a fake tarot deck.
Tarot artwork and fake tarot cards
When scammers copy tarot cards, they’ll often copy the cards from digital photos. In many cases, a sloppy photographic process will result in fine lines and hard edges looking blurry or fuzzy.
If the line art in your tarot cards looks especially fuzzy and blurry, there’s a chance your tarot cards may be fake.
Tarot card colors and fake tarot cards
Many cheap, knock-off tarot cards will have noticeably poor color reproduction. In some cases you may even see clear digital printing artifacts from a digital printer set to the lowest print-quality.
Tarot cards are usually immersive, lush and beautiful. Obviously, we make some exceptions for early decks like the famous Rider Waite tarot deck — which were originally printed when print technologies weren’t up to today’s standards. But if you’ve just purchased a modern deck and the colors look drab or highly pixelated, there’s a chance your deck is fake.
Tarot card packaging and fake tarot cards
Tarot card packaging can often offer clues as to whether or not your tarot cards are fake. In many cases, the forger will digitally photograph the outside of the tarot packaging in order to copy the box art. This approach often leads to blurry text on the outside of the box.
If the text on the outside of the box is blurry, your tarot cards may be fake.
How to avoid buying fake tarot cards
Always buy your tarot cards directly from reputable publishers or reputable retailers. It’s okay to buy your cards on Amazon, but make sure the Amazon merchant has a good reputation before purchasing.
Websites commonly associated with scams include Alibaba and eBay.
Lastly, if the prices seem too good to be true, then they probably are.