How to Recognise Fake Decks
by Katalin Patnaik
Piracy is more rampant than ever. Fake tarot decks are not anymore exclusive to Wish and AliExpress; they have flooded Amazon and eBay too. In fact, nowadays it’s a right pain to sort through all the rubbish and find the real things. It is becoming a real problem, as we will see in forthcoming interviews with the creators and deck publishers who are hurt by the sales of counterfeit decks.
So then, how do I make sure I buy the legitimate deck and not the counterfeit ones?
Well, the simplest way would be to buy decks directly from the publisher or the creator. This way there is zero chance of it being a fake. Admittedly it isn’t within everyone’s budget – I’m looking at you, preposterous postal charges!
But what if I have to order mine from resellers, online? Now, this is where things become tricky. Lucky for us we have lovely shops here in the UK that stock indie decks as well as mass market ones. If you’re looking for indie decks, Little Red Tarot’s, Blackwell’s and Watkins’ shop is a good place to check. For mass market decks, check your local esoteric shops and bookstores; Wordery so far has been trustworthy too. If they don’t have what you are looking for, they might be able to order it for you. The same goes for outside the UK: check with your local shops, they probably have connections with the publishers.
Still, when buying online, you can’t touch or see the actual product you buy; there might be pictures but those could be of an original copy and not the one you will get. Not to worry! Here are some tips on how to filter out fakes – I am not saying they are foolproof, nor that they are always true, but nonetheless, they can come useful.
1. If the price seems too good to be true, it IS a fake. The only exceptions are A, it is a damaged product clearly described as such by the seller, B, when a private seller wants to sell their used/unwanted deck, in which case it will be, again, clearly mentioned. If you are unsure of the actual price of a deck, look it up at the publisher’s website and compare the prices. £3-4 difference might be there, but a £20 deck will not be sold for £5 legitimately. While researching for this post, I have found a “brand new Anima Mundi” for £1! Giant red flag right there, as the original from the creator is £37.88!
2. The item’s name is two lines long and says things like “mysterious tarot future telling cards” and “family board game” on the listing, without actually mentioning the name of the deck, or giving it only a cursory mention. See, publishers know what their decks are called. Online sales platforms get clear instructions on what the listing is. A private seller also knows what the deck they have bought and don’t want anymore, is called. If the title says “Tarot Cards Deck Vintage Antique High Quality Colorful Card Box Party Game 78 UK” instead of “Rider Waite Smith Tarot”, there’s something fishy going on. (Yes this is an actual listing.)
3. A high percentage of fake decks ship from China and Russia. Now, I hope no one will take this as a xenophobic attack. I love both countries. But, it is what it is, so if a deck ships from there or has Chinese or Cyrillic letters on it along with English, be extra careful. There ARE legitimate sellers who have agreements with western publishers; for example Taromarket.ru is such a seller, they stock some English decks in Russian and I know they have permission to do so. But with other sources, be careful.
4. Sites like Wish and AliExpress are big no-nos. If you looked long enough you might find legitimate decks – do let me know if you do, I gave up after a few pages of fakes. Amazon and eBay are still ok-ish. Just check who the seller is: it should be the publisher or Amazon. If it is a private seller, be extra careful.
5. Just listen to your gut. If something seems fishy, it probably is. In the last few weeks fake decks on Amazon have gone up in price so it is getting even more difficult to distinguish between real and pirated ones. Check on the previous advice and most importantly, listen to your gut.
Not buying fakes is well enough, but you can also help us fight piracy! How? If you see a fake, report it! Wherever it is, in whatever form: report it! Copyright infringement is a real crime, most platforms respond well and remove the listing. Alert the publisher and the creator so they can flag it to the platform as well. If we all put a pressure on online sales platforms, they will have to change their policies and they’ll think twice of allowing pirates onboard!
How about creating a hashtag? Let us know your ideas in the comments! How’s #realtarot #pledgedtorealtarot?
Let’s spread the word, educate ourselves and others, and let’s end piracy!
Related post: The “Not So Good” Tarot by Juli