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The Magic Shop imports a wide range of custom cards from Bicycle to Bee and cards from Theory11, Ellusionist, Dan and Dave and more. We have over 1100 decks to choose from!
The popular decks are Memento Mori (everyone LOVES Chris Ramsay), Monarchs and Black Ghosts. Magicians love cards and what they can achieve with this little box containing pieces of board is simply amazing. The range of cards available is immense and it has a vibrant community of collectors, manipulators, poker players and magicians. We often get in limited products that are numbered and limited, these are very popular with collectors.
Let’s put this into perspective. If one had to sort all the possible combinations and you started when the Big Bang occurred. By the time you finished the Universe would be 10 million times older then it is now. There are more combinations in a deck than atoms in the world. A nice way to think about it is when you hold a shuffled deck, the chances are that you are holding it in an order that no human before has. Yes playing cards are amazing and you can check out our playing cards are amazing range by clicking here.
The United States Playing Card company has its roots back in 1867 and is famous for the it’s Bicycle and Bee cards. It prints many of the highest quality cards on the market.Bicycle playing cards, apart from their iconic backs, are particularly known for two cards.
The Joker is an American invention dating from about 1865 and has made different appearances in the Bicycle card line. The first type represented a man on a high-wheeled bike. The bicycle later acquired two wheels of normal size. Then followed a series of playing card kings on bikes. These cyclists wheel past a milestone marked “808.” Contrary to some opinions, this number has no mystical meaning. It is merely a reference number distinguishing this brand from others (such as “606”) by the same company.
The Ace of Spades served a famous purpose in the war in Vietnam. In February, 1966, two lieutenants of Company “C,” Second Battalion, 35th Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, wrote The United States Playing Card Company and requested decks containing nothing but the Bicycle Ace of Spades. The cards were useful in psychological warfare. The Viet Cong were very superstitious and highly frightened by this Ace.
The French previously had occupied Indo-China, and in French fortune telling with cards, the Spades predicted death and suffering. The Viet Cong even regarded lady liberty as a goddess of death. USPC shipped thousands of the requested decks gratis to our troops in Vietnam. These decks were housed in plain white tuck cases, inscribed “Bicycle Secret Weapon.” The cards were deliberately scattered in the jungle and in hostile villages during raids. The very sight of the Bicycle Ace card was said to cause many Viet Cong to flee.
The deck of 52 French playing cards is the most common deck of playing cards used today. It includes thirteen ranks of each of the four French suits: clubs (♣), diamonds (♦), hearts (♥) and spades (♠), with reversible “court” or face cards. Some modern designs, however, have done away with reversible face cards.
Each suit includes an ace, depicting a single symbol of its suit; a king, queen, and jack, each depicted with a symbol of its suit; and ranks two through ten, with each card depicting that many symbols (pips) of its suit. Anywhere from one to four (most often two) Jokers, often distinguishable with one being more colorful than the other, are added to commercial decks, as some games require this extended deck. Modern playing cards carry index labels on opposite corners (rarely, all four corners) to facilitate identifying the cards when they overlap and so that they appear identical for players on opposite sides.
The most popular stylistic pattern of the French Deck is sometimes referred to as “English” or “Anglo-American playing cards”.
The fanciful design and manufacturer’s logo commonly displayed on the Ace of Spades began under the reign of James I of England, who passed a law requiring an insignia on that card as proof of payment of a tax on local manufacture of cards. Until August 4, 1960, decks of playing cards printed and sold in the United Kingdom were liable for taxable duty and the Ace of Spades carried an indication of the name of the printer and the fact that taxation had been paid on the cards. The packs were also sealed with a government duty wrapper. Though specific design elements of the court cards are rarely used in game play and many differ between designs, a few are notable.
A few notable design elements:
Modern playing cards are most commonly referred to as either ‘poker’ or ‘bridge’ sized; nominal dimensions are summarized in the adjacent table. Notwithstanding these generally accepted dimensions, there is no formal requirement for precise adherence and minor variations are produced by various manufacturers.
The most common sizes for playing cards are poker size (2.5 × 3.5 inches (64 × 89 mm), or B8 size according to ISO 216) and bridge size (2.25 × 3.5 inches (57 × 89 mm)). The latter being narrower, and thus more suitable for games such as bridge in which a large number of cards must be held concealed in a player’s hand.
In most casino poker games, the bridge-sized card is used; the use of less material means that a bridge deck is slightly cheaper to make. A casino may use many thousands of decks per day so the minute per-deck savings add up. Other sizes are also available, such as a smaller ‘patience’ size (usually 1.75 × 2.375 inches (44.5 × 60.3 mm)) for solitaire. Tall narrow designs (usually 1.25 × 3 inches (32 × 76 mm)) for travel. Larger ‘jumbo’ ones for card tricks. The weight of an average B8-sized playing card is 0.063 ounces (1.8 g), and a 52 card deck 3.3 ounces (94 g).
The thickness and weight of modern playing cards is subject to numerous variables related to their purpose of use and associated material design for durability, stiffness, texture and appearance.
Some decks include additional design elements. Casino blackjack decks may include markings intended for a machine to check the ranks of cards, or shifts in rank location to allow a manual check via inlaid mirror. Many casino decks and solitaire decks have four indices instead of the usual two.
Many modern decks have bar code markings on the edge of the face to enable them to be sorted by machine (for playing duplicate bridge. Used in simultaneous events where the same hands may be played at many different venues). Many decks have large indices, largely for use in stud poker games, where being able to read cards from a distance is a benefit and hand sizes are small. Some decks use four colors for the suits in order to make it easier to tell them apart: the most common set of colors is black (spades ♠), red (hearts ♥), blue (diamonds ♦) and green (clubs ♣). Another common color set is borrowed from the German suits and uses green Spades and yellow Diamonds with red Hearts and black Clubs.
When giving the full written name of a specific card, the rank is given first followed by the suit, e.g., “Ace of Spades”. Shorthand notation may reflect this by listing the rank first, “A♠”; this is common usage when discussing poker. Alternately, listing the suit first, as in “♠K” for a single card or “♠AKQ” for multiple cards, is common practice when writing about bridge; this helps differentiate between the card(s) and the contract (e.g. “4♥”, a contract of Four Hearts.) Tens may be either abbreviated to T or written as 10.
Playing cards can be made with paper or plastics. To make a card, layered paper is produced by putting a number of sheets of paper in a stack and gluing them together. This type of paper is stronger and more durable than standard paper. Higher quality cards may be made from polymeric plastic films and sheets. One material that is often used is a cellulose acetate polymer. This is a semisynthetic polymer that is made into a paper-like sheet by being cast from a solution. This produces a film, which can be stacked and laminated to produce an appropriately thick sheet. This material is much more durable than paper and cards that are made with it last considerably longer. Vinyl plastics are also used in the production of cards. Paper cards are typically of lower quality and wear out more quickly than plastic cards.
The production of a deck of cards involves the three primary steps including printing the pasteboards, cutting the sheets and assembling the deck. While a variety of printing processes may be employed, lithography continues to be used extensively.
Creating the printing plates is the first step in the production of playing cards. This process begins with camera ready artwork, or electronically created images, which contain pictures of each card that will be included in the deck. A plate is also created for the backs of the cards. Using a photographic process a negative of the image is exposed to a flat plate and coated with a light sensitive material. The plate is developed, and the image area is coated with an oily material that will attract ink but repel water. The non-image area is coated with a mixture, which will attract water and repel ink. One plate must be created for each of the different colors that will be printed on the card.
To begin printing, the plates are mounted on rotating cylinders in the printing press. When the press is started, the plate is passed under a roller, which coats it with water. The image area on the plate, previously treated with the oily material, repels the water and remains uncoated. An ink roller is next passed over the plate. Since an oil-based ink is used, it adheres to the plate only on the water-resistant sections.
A rubber roller is then passed over the printing plate and the ink from the plate is transferred to it. The card paper is passed under the rubber roller and the ink is transferred to it. The paper is then passed to the next roller assembly where another color may be added. The ink is specially formulated so it dries before it enters the next roller assembly. This process of wetting, inking, and printing is continuous through-out the card manufacturing run.After printing, the cards are sorted, stacked, cut, and packaged.
When one sheet of paper exits the printing press, it contains an image on both sides. One side has the image of each card in the deck while the other has the card back image. At this point, the sheet may be coated with a special clear polymer mixture that gives it a slick, glossy look and feel. This coating also helps to protect the cards making them longer lasting.
After both sides of the pasteboards are printed, they are transported to a card cutting station. Here precision-cutting machines cut the cards out from the printed sheets. The cards are cut such that each card is of identical size. They are then assembled into their respective sets and organized into stacks. At this point, the stack contains all of the cards that will end up in the final packaging.
The stack of cards is next transported via conveyor belt to a corner punching station. When it reaches the platform of this station, the stack is pushed up into the punching device. This machine rounds off the corners on one side of each card in the stack. During this phase of production, the stack of cards are held tightly in the punching blades so each card is cut identically. The stack is then removed and transported to another punching station. Here the corners of the other side of the stack of cards are rounded off. After the cards are removed from this station, all four corners are rounded and the decks are ready for final packaging.
The stack of cards is returned to the main conveyor and transferred to the packaging station. Here a machine feeds formed boxes onto the assembly line. The cards are then inserted into the box. The boxes are closed and sealed with a sticker at the top. The box is then transported to a shrinkwrap machine where it is wrapped in a clear plastic such as cellophane. The finished deck of cards is then placed in a case with other decks, stacked on pallets and shipped on trucks to distributors.
Quality control begins with the incoming inks and other raw materials used to create the deck of cards. If the manufacturer produces their own stock paper, it is checked to ensure that it measures up to specifications related to physical appearance, dimensions, consistency, and other characteristics. The inks are minimally tested for color, viscosity, and solubility. For materials that are supplied by outside vendors the card manufacturer often relies on the supplier’s quality control inspections. Prior to a first printing, the plates are tested to verify they will produce a quality print. During production, the sheets are randomly checked for a variety of printing errors or ink smears. Defective sheets are removed prior to cutting. Line inspectors are also stationed at various points on the production line to make sure that each pack is produced in a flawless manner.
The exact story of the emergence of playing cards is debated. Some historians believe that cards were developed in India and derived from the game of chess. Others suggest that they were developed as implements for magic and fortune telling in Egypt. The first written record of the use of playing cards comes from the Orient, dating back to the twelfth century. Playing cards were introduced to Europe during the thirteenth century from the Middle East. Evidence suggests that they first arrived in Italy or Spain and were quickly spread throughout the continent.
Some of these early playing cards were very similar to our modern day cards. They consisted of 52 cards with four suits including swords, cups, coins, and polo-sticks. They also had numerals from one to ten and face cards. The face cards included a king, deputy king and second deputy king. The Europeans began to produce their own cards, but they did not produce consistent designs and any number of suits or face cards would be made. In the latter part of the fifteenth century, standardised versions of cards began to appear.
The modern day system of spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs first appeared in France around 1480. The availability of cards became more wide-spread as production processes improved. The earliest decks of playing cards were hand-colored with stencils, they were extremely expensive to produce and were owned almost exclusively by the very wealthy. Cheaper products were also produced, but it is likely that they deteriorated quickly with use.
With the advent of new printing processes, production volumes of playing cards were increased. During the fifteenth century, a method of producing cards using wooden blocks as printing templates was introduced in Germany. These decks were quickly exported throughout Europe. The next significant advance in card manufacture was the replacement of wood blocking and hand colouring. This was replaced with copper plate engraving during the sixteenth century.
Colour lithography was developed in the early 1800s and the production of playing cards was revolutionized. New printing techniques promise to further improve the production of future decks of cards.
Playing cards are amazing and there is a growing interest in collecting the amazing custom designed cards. Bicycle, Theory11, Dan and Dave to name a few, are coming up with new designs continually.
Future developments in playing card production will focus on new card designs and methods of printing. Since the market for playing cards remains relatively mature, card producers will attempt to increase sales by introducing novel card designs. This might involve using new base materials for the cards, producing three-dimensional designs, or creating novel shapes. New printing methods that can be employed because of the vast improvements in computer technologies. These methods will be used to increase the speed at which cards will be produced. Already implemented the need for creating plates is reducing as printing can be done directly from computer images. We have quality playing cards starting at R40 and going up to over R2500.