Morgana ad. The only bit of her I have.

I collect old fortune-telling games. My collection, IMO, is pretty nice. These are small board games or little machines. Though I wouldn’t look a gift Zoltan in the mouth, I have never wanted to own an arcade fortune teller. Except for Morgana.

The ad above turned up on my usual ebay searches, and started an obsession. There is very little information on the game anywhere. The best coverage is from Mechanical Arcade, who even managed to snag a copy of the original video. Seriously, this link is cool. Well, if you’re me, I suppose.

Bacchus Games was incorporated in 1977, ending in tax forfeiture in 1981. Their arcade game was unique at the time. Instead of animatronics, their fortune teller was a foam head, on which a video was projected.

Every once in a while, I search around the web again, hoping for some tidbit. This time, I got one. I got names: Joel Osborne and Hardy Haberman. If I have the right Joel, he has passed. But I was able to track down Haberman, and ask him intrusive questions via email. It made me SO! HAPPY! First, he tells the story of the game:

I developed the idea for MORGANA after seeing a Technicolor super 8mm projector.  They ran on cartridges of film in an endless loop that could be programmed to play a segment of film on command.

I projected the image on a white mannequin head with a face cast from the actress who did the readings of the fortunes.  It was inspired by the talking heads in the Haunted mansion at Disneyland.

Paul Osborne designed the cabinet for the machine and the cosmetic pieces that made it attractive. We incorporated a company called Bacchus Games to produce it and sold quite a few of them in the US and Japan.  

The input device on the machine was totally bogus and did not record your birthdate, but instead just triggered the projector to play whatever was the next segment in the cartridge.  Everything was powered once the proper coinage was inserted.

It was a convincing and spooky illusion and they were popular.  The drawback of the machines was the size,  They had a big footprint for an arcade machine and that limited their sales.  

I asked him what actress played Morgana:

For the American versions it was Monette Osborne, Paul’s wife at the time.  Other actresses performed in the Japanese, Spanish and French version.

And that’s as much as I was willing to bother the nice man. Didn’t find out anything about the Bally version. I begin to wonder if it existed, as some sources list Bacchus as making the table-top version, which is clearly not the case.

I’d still like to see one in person someday. Rumor has it that David Copperfield has one in his extensive collection. For now, I’ll just keep that ebay alert.

PixelOccult is the shop of James Brothwell of Portland, Oregon.

Sinking Wasteland Tarot

He has two decks in his Etsy shop, both so gorgeous I couldn’t feature just one.

The Sinking Wasteland Tarot is his post-apocalyptic vision. Toxic waters threaten his wasted world, which took him about two years to create.

Neon Moon Tarot

The Neon Moon Tarot is another sci-fi deck, this time with a cyberpunk theme.

Like the Sinking Wasteland deck, James aims for diversity in ethnicity and body type.

His bright, limited color palette evokes a vibrant, twisted future. I’d love to have both of these decks on my shelf.

The Dark Exact is the shop of Coleman Stevenson, a Portland, Oregon based artist.

The Dark Exact Tarot, $38

I dig her style, and am itching to add her Tarot to the collection. The shop has a few different augury kits, plus scents, and other odds and ends.

Pin Divination Set, $22

And how cool is a matchbox ritual kit? That’s a stocking stuffer for all your witchy friends.

Ritual Kit, $10

The Wooden Tarot


The Wooden Tarot is not made of wood. Andrew L. Swartz originally painted them on wood, and thus the name.

Swartz uses images from nature to illustrate his 78-card deck. The style is lovely and warm, contrasting with the darkness of the subject matter.

The Devil

The Wooden Tarot is one of a trilogy of decks available on Etsy (where you can get a few other goodies) and his website, Skullgarden.

I have always loved the art of the tarot. I used to read when I was younger, and was considered quite accurate. I believe it was much the same as the man who had a reputation for reading palms. A skeptic convinced him to spend one week telling his clients the opposite of what he saw in the lines. He found that he was just as accurate.  Woo notwithstanding, I am still enchanted with the idea of 78 little paintings, guided (or often not) by a traditional framework of ideas.

James R. Eads actually has two lovely tarot decks out, Prisma Visions and Light Visions.  Both were funded via Kickstarter, and you can see more of the cards at the campaign pages.  The paintings for the cards were done on a large scale, so the finished project is full of exquisite detail. The lower arcana are borderless, as they flow together.

I wanted to do one big art tarot post, but, like dolls, I ended up with too much stuff. So I’ll be posting decks that are on my wishlist from time to time.