U.S. Games Systems
|Industry||publisher of books, playing cards, games, and tarot cards|
|Founder||Stuart R. Kaplan|
U.S. Games Systems, Inc. (USGS) is a publisher of playing cards, tarot cards, and games located in Stamford, Connecticut. Founded in 1968 by Stuart R. Kaplan, it has published hundreds of different card sets, and about 20 new titles are released annually. The company's product line includes children's card games, museum products, educational cards, motivational cards, tarot cards, and other fortune telling card decks. These are marketed through a network of retailers, including bookstores, museum gift shops, metaphysical shops, greeting card stores; toy and game stores; hobby shops, and mail order catalogs.
The company started as a U.S. distributor of European tarot decks. The tarot decks sold well in bookstores and Kaplan decided to begin publishing tarot decks himself. In 1971, the company acquired the rights to publish the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. The deck was extremely popular and served as the basis for the company's early success.
Other tarot sets published by U.S. Games include a traditional Tarot of Marseilles, two Visconti-Sforza tarot decks, an Oswald Wirth tarot, and the Thoth Tarot designed by Aleister Crowley and drawn by Lady Frieda Harris. The company is also known for its commitment to novel interpretations of the tarot, featuring new artwork in a variety of styles and formats. Some of the best known of these are the hippie-influenced Aquarian tarot, the borderless Morgan-Greer tarot, the circular Motherpeace tarot, and the Tarot of the Witches by Fergus Hall, which was featured in the James Bond movie Live and Let Die.
Popular playing card games published by U.S. Games include the Wizard Card Game, Authors, the Natural World Series, American Revolution and American Civil War Games, the Creative Whack Pack, Mystery Rummy, and Continuo. Some of the company's card decks make use of museum holdings of artwork, like the Mummy Deck, from the holdings of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Women in Works of Art deck, drawn from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.
In the 1970s, the company branched out into publishing books about the history of tarot. Stuart Kaplan co-wrote with Jean Huets the four-volume Encyclopedia of Tarot, which was published over the course of two decades. In 2009, U.S. Games published a commemorative Rider-Waite box set including Pamela Colman Smith's tarot cards, a selection of her art prints, and a short book about her, written by Kaplan. Kaplan's interest in Pamela Colman Smith's work as a theatrical set designer and costumer, her involvement with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and her collaboration with the noted occultist Arthur Edward Waite on the Rider-Waite deck, led him to research and co-write the biography Pamela Colman Smith: The Untold Story with Mary Katherine Greer, Elizabeth Foley O'Connor, and Melinda Boyd Parsons.
- Liebenson, Bess (October 1, 2000). "How a Passion for Tarot Cards Led to a Full-Time Business". The New York Times.
- "Play your cards!". Greenwich News. 13 (49). Greenwich, Connecticut. 7 December 1995. p. B11.
- EndersGame (25 February 2020). "Publisher Spotlight: U.S. Games Systems, Inc". PlayingCardDecks.com. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
- "U.S. Games - About Us". Retrieved 2021-03-01.
- Kaplan, Stuart R.; Greer, Mary K.; O'Connor, Elizabeth Foley; Parsons, Melinda Boyd (2018). Pamela Colman Smith: The Untold Story. Stamford, Connecticut. p. 374. ISBN 9781572819122.
- Farley, Helen (2009). A Cultural History of Tarot: From Entertainment to Esotericism. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1848850538.[page needed]
- "Pamela Colman Smith at the Dawn of Modernism" in Retrievals by Garrett Caples (2004), Wave Books.
- Christina Hennessy (September 13, 2018). "It was in the cards: Stamford publisher brings Pamela Colman Smith's art to the masses, again". Connecticut Post (ctpost). Retrieved March 3, 2021.
- Kaplan, Stuart R.; Greer, Mary K.; O'Connor, Elizabeth Foley; Parsons, Melinda Boyd (2018). Pamela Colman Smith: The Untold Story. Stamford, Connecticut. p. 379. ISBN 9781572819122.
Pamela's Fool card, with the Fool poised at the edge of a cliff, was adopted as the USGS logo, both because the founding of the company required a leap of faith and because April 1st is the birthday of its founder, Stuart Kaplan.