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Is Your Deck an NSP?

For years, I’ve puzzled over what to call decks like the TdM, Swiss 1JJ, Rolla Nordic, and Visconti-Sforza that have suit symbols instead of pictures on the number cards. Here are some generic names I’ve seen recently:

Historic: Too broad — the Waite-Smith, Sola Busca and Vachetta are historic decks, but they have illustrations on the number cards.

Antique: Here in the USA an object is legally an antique when it’s 100 years old, so this would include the Waite-Smith deck. It would exclude recent re-makes of the TdM like Rolla Nordic’s or Major Tom’s decks, or those lurid TdMs published by Fournier.

Decks with Non-Illustrated Pips:  Accurate, but a mouthful.

Pre-de Gebelin: This puts the dividing line at occult and pre-occult decks, rather than whether they have illustrated pips or not. And it rather snootily assumes that you know who Antoine Court de Gebelin was. (If you’re curious, read about him on this page).

Lynda Cowles put me out of my misery by using the term NSP (Non-Scenic Pips) in her wildly creative Tarot Playbook published in 2012 by Schiffer. My decks aren’t distinguished by their age or whether they have occult flourishes, but whether the number cards confine me to one illustrated scene or let my intuition play off the arrangement of suit symbols.

I’m proud to stand up and declare that my favorite reading decks are NSPs. How about you?

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