Lost Envoy is a new book edited by artist Jonathan Allen, which brings into public view the recently discovered hand-painted tarot cards by English artist and mystic Austin Osman Spare. It’s available directly from the publisher Strange Attractor press and in limited quantities at select book shops. The publisher’s site says:
“In the Spring of 2013 a 79-card, hand-painted tarot deck created c.1906 by the mystic and artist Austin Osman Spare, was identified within the collections of The Magic Circle Museum in London.
“Austin Spare’s life-long interest in cartomancy is well documented, yet very few of his own fortune-telling cards were thought to have survived. This compelling new example of the artist’s early work demonstrates his precocious involvement with the currents that shaped the British Occult Revival at the beginning of 20th century, and his interactions with some of the period’s lesser-known protagonists.
“Magic Circle Museum curator and artist Jonathan Allen immediately recognised that Spare’s cards were not only art-historically significant, but also entirely unknown outside of The Magic Circle’s collections, and set about tracing the deck’s provenance, its place in the artist’s oeuvre and within the wider histories of cartomancy.
“Lost Envoy reproduces Austin Spare’s tarot deck in its entirety for the first time, alongside new written and visual contributions from Jonathan Allen, Phil Baker, Helen Farley, Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill, Sally O’Reilly and Gavin Semple.
“The book is designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio, with a cover incorporating the vibrant back colours of Spare’s cards, a period binding common to many of the volumes found in The Magic Circle library and a gold deboss of the artist’s autographic ‘bird-head’ motif, as discovered within the deck itself. The numbered and debossed special edition contains several fold-out sections showing conspicuous alignment between cards.”
O+II contributor Barry William Hale wrote about the book launch party that took place May 11 and exhibition of the original card that ran through May 15. Images from the exhibit have been posted here: