This set of cards was designed in 1909 by the great authority on the Tarot and revered mystic Arthur Edward Waite with the help of artist Pamela Coleman Smith. The two met at a meeting of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a magical order from the late 19th century devoted to the study and practice of the occult, metaphysics and paranormal activities, a group that has influenced modern witchcraft and Wicca.
For Waite, Tarot cards belonged in a different realm than fortune-telling cards or gypsy cards. With the Tarot cards you gained insight to your question through divination and help from a supernatural agency. Your social character in a religious context came into play. You could find help in perplexing situations by shuffling the deck and reading the cards, and it was no more random than opening a bible, putting a finger on a passage, and gaining insight to what is troubling you.
Waite drew his inspiration from the Marseille Tarot Deck seen here, which was introduced to France, from Italy, in the late 15th century. He gave Pamela Coleman Smith instructions based on the design of this set, but not being an artist himself, he let Smith have artistic license, especially on the minor cards.
And look how beautiful they are!