Stephen Winick Interviews Stuart Kaplan

This is a never-before-published article by Dr. Stephen Winick, a folklorist, writer and editor for the Library of Congress, based on an interview he conducted in 2008 with U.S. Games founder Stuart Kaplan.

Stu Cropped “I liken myself to The Fool in the Tarot deck,” Stuart Kaplan told me.  “Every day is a new adventure for me between researching, managing U.S. Games Systems and the Creative Whack Company, collecting, and traveling.”  As the long-established president of an important Tarot and playing card company, the manufacturer of the most popular Tarot decks in the world, and the creator of the voluminous reference work The Encyclopedia of Tarot, Kaplan has long since proved his wisdom in Tarot matters.  Yet the Fool remains a particularly apt card for Kaplan, for many reasons, not least of which is his birthday: April Fools Day. 

The Fool stands for new beginnings, for blank slates, for innocence.  It’s also the card of taking a chance, seizing an opportunity.  As the first of the sequence of the Major Arcana (at least according to the most popular theory), it stands for the first step of a great journey.  All of these apply to Kaplan, who as a young man took two steps that would help revitalize Tarot, first in the U.S. and then around the world: first, he began importing Tarot cards to the United States.  Then, he began publishing them through his own company. 

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