We had the opportunity to interview Jan Shandera to hear about the creative process behind her card deck called “Mnemonic Letter Flashcards”. The title is pronounced: ne-mon-ic and was inspired by a third-grade student, let’s call him Sandy, who had a difficult time learning most of the alphabet sounds. Jan shares about the first time meeting Sandy, “When I met him he stood before me with his head hung, unable to look me in the eye. I was a special education teacher at the time and was not allowed access to his special education records. The staff were puzzled about how to help him. He looked so sad, so embarrassed, and had so little self-esteem.”
About The Design
Jan had read about how the “mnemonic alphabet” had been discovered to be the best method to help kids learn letter sounds. “In a mnemonic alphabet, the letter is an integral part of the picture and this is supposed to make it more memorable. I concluded this was the way to start helping Sandy, but I couldn’t find such an alphabet anywhere. So I started making one for him.” Jan was able to create the card design using the Adobe Illustrator program. “Using it, I could change shapes easily, dragging points. I don’t consider myself to be an artist, don’t feel I can easily visualize and then draw. The computer frees me to design and ‘fix’ until it looks right. I’m not a graphic designer. I did a lot of color sampling to come up with the brightest, most attractive colors I could.”
Helping Develop Important Skills With Creativity
“I began working with Sandy in late September, it seems like it was just three days a week for 30 minutes and later 60 minutes. As he learned letter sounds, he learned to sound out words and begin reading. By Thanksgiving, he was not only a beginning reader but accomplished his first-ever independent writing. His classroom teacher shared with me a copy of his written response to an assignment, and said he had carefully sounded out his words! I still have it. When I left, Sandy could proudly look me in the eye. It was so rewarding to help this child.”
Issues Faced During The Design Process
Jan first faced issues during the creation process, as she explained “Creating a mnemonic alphabet is a challenge because letters just don’t magically look like an object you can illustrate while keeping the letter as part of the picture. When it comes to vowels, there’s only a limited number of words that start with a pure short vowel sound. Many vowels are slightly altered by the following consonant.” She also had to figure out how to design the “X” card as “I had to put the x at the end of that picture. Think about it, a xylophone starts with a z sound. X-ray doesn’t work, either (it starts with the short e sound ‘eks’).”
The next issue she faced was with the printing process. “At first I printed and laminated my cards myself. Printing at home is fraught with frustrations since I’m a perfectionist. If the printing went well, then there were the bubbles and such with the lamination to deal with. I wanted them to look professional so I could share them with others. Getting the colors right was a challenge too, as was making sure that all parts kept their proper size in relation to the other parts. The letters all had to be traced. Now I don’t have to worry about all that!
Introducing The Deck To Others
“My granddaughter was only 2 or 3 years old when I gave her a deck of my letters. It was such a delight to watch her play with them. She had her favorites, especially p-pig, and m-mouse, and would exclaim their names when she found them in the deck. She was just so tickled with them! It was playing for her, but she was learning letter names and sounds at a very early age. I love the photos I took of her playing with them.”
We asked Jan about her experience working with Shuffled Ink and here is what she had to say, “I researched a variety of companies online and asked for samples. I liked the quality of the samples from Shuffled Ink. It was a big step for me, but everyone at Shuffled Ink treated me like I was one of the family. When the first order came, they were perfect. Now I’m on my third order!”
Let’s say you’ve got a nice deck of playing cards. Naturally you want to enjoy it, and you want to look after it to ensure that it lasts as long as possible. So how should you look after your deck?
First of all, it’s important to realize that it’s not an inherently bad thing to have a deck that shows signs of wear, because that usually means you are enjoying your deck and using it! But obviously you don’t want to accelerate this process of wear any more than necessary. So is there anything you can do to preserve your deck, and make it last as long as possible? As it turns out, there most certainly is, and you can start by considering the suggestions made in this article.
Here are two dozen tips about how to care for a deck of playing cards, gleaned from the world of hard knocks, worn out decks, and experience.
No rubber bands, please! We’ve all seen it: a deck of playing cards, secured tightly with a rubber band. Don’t do it. Why not? Well first of all, over time that rubber band is going to become brittle and break. Worse, when you add some heat it’s going to melt, and you’ll have bits of rubber actually stuck to your cards. Yuck! Furthermore, there’s a real risk that the rubber band will damage the cards at the top and bottom of the deck, because it puts pressure at those points. A rubber band does help keep your deck together, but it offers zero protection for the cards themselves – and we can do better than that!
No pants pocket, please! Sure, it’s nice and warm in there, and it seems to be a safe spot to put your cards. And sometimes you’ll have no option but to put a deck inside your pocket. But think about it: a deck that’s pressed tightly against your body is going to warm up. It may feel romantic, but when romance is in the air, things can start getting sweaty and hot, and that’s a sure-fire way to make your deck start warping. Pants pockets also tend to put pressure on the deck when you walk around or even when you sit, and this can quickly cause damage to the tuck box, or cause the whole deck to bend. If you do need to carry your deck inside an item of clothing, try putting it in a jacket pocket instead. And if you really have to resort to using a pants pocket, try putting your deck inside a card clip or some other deck case or protector first.
Use the tuck box. There’s a reason why playing cards usually come in a tuck box. Tuck boxes are certainly important for marketing and branding, and especially in the case of more classy decks that feature embossing and foil accents on the tuck box, they make an immediate statement of style. But they also serve a very important and practical function in protecting your cards. If you leave your cards out in the open, they are vulnerable to moisture, and will also attract dust – and perhaps even some spider-webs or other nasties that really don’t belong in your deck! So use the tuck box, and look after it! You can always patch it up with duct tape if you really need to! Remember that your tuck box is your first line of defence against playing card enemies like dust, dirt, and even against sunlight and moisture.
Store your decks flat. You’ll find that opinions on this subject do vary. But it can make a difference whether or not a deck of cards is stored in an upright position or flat. When stored flat, gravity is on your side, pressing the cards flat against each other in a natural way. When stored upright or at an angle, there is a greater possibility that your playing cards will warp over time. Whether or not this is an issue for you can depend a lot on your environmental conditions, like the temperature and humidity of the place where your cards are being stored, but you can help combat those other playing card enemies by storing your deck in a flat position.
Avoid humidity. Sometimes you really can’t do anything about the environmental conditions where your deck is stored. But humidity is particularly known to have quite an impact on a deck of playing cards, so if there are ways to store your deck in a cool and dry place, away from sunlight and humidity, and with a relatively stable temperature, definitely that’s the preferred option. Wait a moment, does that sound like your fridge?! I have heard of people who swear that putting a deck in a fridge overnight is the best way to improve the condition of a warped deck, and that it’s also an unorthodox fix for cards that have that undesirable “click”. I haven’t tried the fridge treatment myself, because there can be a lot of moisture lurking there too, so it sounds like a bad idea to me, and I can’t speak from experience. But if you’re really desperate, have exhausted all other options, and are willing to experiment with a particularly rebellious deck, you may want to give that a shot as a last resort! But generally speaking, try to avoid storing your deck in a high moisture area that encourages your cards to curl and warp. Fluctuating humidity is even worse, because cards will expand and shrink, and quickly become damaged. A cool, dry, well-ventilated area is always the best. If you live in a climate with high humidity you might want to put your decks in the same room as your household dehumidifier if you have one.
Avoid sunlight. Sunlight has a tendency to bleach, and if something is left in direct sunlight for extended periods of time, it will inevitably get damaged. You can’t buy sunscreen for cards, but you can keep them away from the sun, by ensuring your cards are stored safely in the tuck case when they’re not being used. This also applies when your playing cards are inside the tuck case – don’t leave it on the ledge of your bedroom window or on the dashboard of your car, where the tuck case is going to sit for hours in the full sun.
Avoid heat. Direct sunlight also invites another enemy of playing cards: heat. And of course there are other sources of heat besides the sun, and adding heat is another sure-fire way to damage your playing cards. This isn’t rocket science, obviously, but I wouldn’t want to be standing underneath the burning flames of rocket engines, would you? Similarly, it’s hardly ideal for your playing cards to be exposed to significant amounts of heat. Heat can accelerate chemical reactions, and changes in temperature will cause things to expand and contract. Inevitably, this will lead to problems like warping, which you really want to avoid. The solution is simple: if you can, try to keep your cards at a constant temperature, and don’t store your deck right beside your fireplace or on the window-sill.
Wash your hands. Now it’s time to open your deck and use it. Go wash your hands please! Yes, really – just like your mother taught you! She probably didn’t have playing cards in mind, but was more concerned about your hygiene. But the reality is that one of the biggest enemies of playing cards is all that dirt and grime that quickly attaches itself to our skin in the course of normal life. When you handle a deck of playing cards, this filth has a habit of unattaching itself, and along with the oils from your skin, finding a new home on your playing cards. Before you know it, those crisp and clean white edges start to look yellowed, or have flecks of grime mysteriously appearing on them. So before doing an intense session of cardistry or practicing your card magic, take a moment to wash your hands carefully.
Dry your hands. You know that guy that you always see leaving the bathroom, shaking his hands dry? Make sure that’s not you, and don’t be that guy! Your hands can easily become sweaty and clammy at the best of times, and while a good wash of your hands before using your cards is always a good idea, it’s equally important to dry your hands. Because playing cards are made out of paper, they love moisture – but for all the wrong reasons! Your cards will inevitably find a way to transfer that sweat or soapy water onto your deck, which is bad news for their longevity. They won’t suddenly swell up or immediately look like they have been damaged, but over time this will cause damage to your cards, and affect their performance, particularly the consistency of the handling.
Handle with care. Maybe this goes without saying, but it’s possible to be rough with your cards. We’ve probably all seen people shuffle cards so crudely that we visibly grimace! If your hands are tense, and you grip the cards too tightly, or bend them excessively while shuffling, you can cause unnecessary damage. Of course it’s equally possible (and perhaps even likely!) that you know how to handle cards carefully, but your friends or family don’t! As a result, if you give them your beloved deck to shuffle, they might be very rough with your cards, and that could simply be because they have never learned the proper techniques for shuffling or handling a deck. Be gracious, of course – but you might want to offer to be the designated shuffler or dealer for the card game.
Spring the cards. Not only is springing cards an impressive visual flourish, but it can also play a very practical purpose of actually helping your cards stay in shape. A card that is being used positively is a happy card. Cards that just sit there and are never used can run the risk of being warped, just like being laid up in bed for weeks will make you stiff and out of shape. In contrast, a good workout with the help of a spring or shuffle can assist in making the playing cards keep shape, by clearing out all the cobwebs or dust (literally!), air them out, and give them some valuable restorative exercise.
Be bi-directional. If you do springs and riffle shuffles, make sure that you don’t just do them the same way all the time, e.g. only face up or only face down. Spring and shuffle them in both directions from time to time, otherwise the cards will always be under pressure to bend the same way. This constant pressure from the same direction will affect the fibres of the cards, and can cause them to be permanently bowed in the long run.
Don’t drop them! This may sound obvious, but dropping your cards is asking for trouble. The first casualty of a dropped deck will usually be the corners of the cards, which risk becoming bent in the process. If you want to fast-track your deck to becoming one of those dog-eared items, throwing your cards around is definitely going to speed up that process. Furthermore, any time your cards spend on the floor means that they’re likely to come into contact with dirt that has been tracked in on the carpet, linoleum, concrete, or grass, or wherever you happen to be using your deck of cards. Getting sand in between your cards is especially something to avoid, because this will cause extra friction in the wrong places, and will speed up the wearing process when you shuffle the cards.
Practice above carpet. If you are a cardist attempting a range of new moves of fancy aerial moves, you don’t want to be doing this above a filthy ground or a hard wooden floor or concrete. You are going to drop cards. Yes, I know that this conflicts with a previous suggestion where I said that you shouldn’t drop the cards. But dropping cards occasionally is part of the cost of progression in cardistry or magic. Every good cardist will drop cards in the course of learning and attempting new and challenging moves. If you never drop cards, then you obviously aren’t challenging yourself or pushing yourself to new heights. And if you know that you are going to drop cards, then it makes sense to have them fall on a surface that is going to be as friendly to them as possible. A clean and soft carpet is best. A hard and dirty wooden floor, or a muddy puddle outdoors most definitely isn’t!
Do nothing. There’s an old saying that “time is a great healer”, and it can apply to playing cards as well. Of course, if your two year old nephew has chewed off the corner of your favourite Ace of Spades, no amount of time is going to make that corner grow back – not even your best Torn and Restored magic routine! But sometimes when a deck of playing cards is starting to feel clumpy or spread unevenly, it just needs a break. Just like a car can overheat, sometimes a deck that has been handled for a long period of time simply needs a breather. So put it back in the box, and maybe in a card clip if you have one, store it in a cool and dry place, and give it a chance to dry out and get back to normal. You may find that in an hour, a day, or a week, the cards handle better again. Just like a holiday can do a stressed person a world of good, an overworked deck can benefit from having an occasional break, so give it a well-deserved and therapeutic rest from time to time!
Use a deck protector. Don’t have your deck rattling around in the glove-box of your car or in your pocket without any form of protection. That’s not what you’d do with your pet gerbil either is it? No, you’d give him a nice carrying case, or put him inside some kind of container. Well as it turns out, you can get protective containers for playing cards as well. One option is a card clip, but it is important to realize that this tends only to protect a couple of sides of the deck, leaving the other sides unprotected. We’ll cover the benefits of a card clip later – they are best used for a different function. A plastic carrying case is probably a better option to use for transporting a deck, and there are products available like clear plastic playing card storage boxes that work well. Whatever you do, don’t just let those tuck boxes fly around loosely while you are travelling, because they are sure to get dinged and dented, potentially damaging the cards in the process.
Use a card clip. So you’ve given your cards a good workout, and you’ve noticed that they have a slight bend or are warping? A card clip is a utility item, often made of stainless steel metal or alloy, that fits around your tuck box to help with this. Once again, opinions can vary on the benefits and advantages of a card clip, and whether they really make any difference. These are typically claimed to increase the longevity of your playing cards, by providing extra protection and thus ensuring greater durability. A quality card clip typically doesn’t come cheap, but the quality is usually evident immediately. They should have a strong natural spring that ensures that your deck is wedged firmly between two pressure points. In practice, because playing cards can have different thicknesses depending on the stock used, you may need to take some cards out in order to fit a deck inside a card clip – there’s even potential for the tuck box to be damaged if you find yourself trying to squash the deck inside. As far as protection goes, card clips typically only protect a deck from a couple of sides. They certainly offer some protection for a deck that’s in your pocket, but don’t expect them to be bullet proof, because your tuck box will still get banged around and somewhat damaged. In my experience, a card clip is particularly useful for straightening out a deck that has become warped. You could try the more primitive method of placing a deck under a heavy book or table, but placing a deck in a good card clip overnight can work wonders. Besides that, card clips are great accessories, and can make their own statement of style and class.
Use a play mat. I may be starting to sound like an overprotective mother here, but a play mat can really make a difference to the health of your playing cards. Of course a good plain-coloured table cloth might do the trick, but there are better options. Whenever we play card games in my family, we use a very large table sized neoprene mat that we purchased specifically for this purpose. Not only does this protect the table, but more importantly it protects the cards. It makes them stay in position nicely on the table, and it also makes them very easy to pick up. Many of our visitors who have played card games or enjoyed card magic at our dining table have been super impressed with this neoprene mat and wanted to get their own! Magicians have been using close-up mats for card magic for a long time, and the principle is the same. There’s a good reason why poker tables at casinos are typically made of a felt-like material. Even a tablecloth is a better option than playing on a hard wooden table, because invariably cards can be hard to pick up on a hard wooden surface, and have a much higher risk of being damaged that way. You can even purchase a roll of thick felt from a fabric shop, which will do the trick too.
Use fanning powder. All good quality playing cards are given a coating at the end of the production process, and what that does is helps cards fan and spread evenly, and promotes their longevity. Depending on the publisher or creator, this coating can be called things like Magic Finish or Performance Coating. But over time this coating will wear, and as a result the cards will no longer slide over each other as smoothly, and the deck will start to become “clumpy”. One solution to this is to use fanning powder or talcum powder, which can help minimize the extent to which the cards stick together, and restore some of the smoothness to your fans and spreads. For black cards you can’t use white powder, because it will leave a noticeable white residue behind, but it’s definitely an option for non-black cards. Fanning powder is probably much less necessary today than it was in the previous centuries, given the advances of technology and the improved quality of cards today, particularly the coating used. So you’ll likely only need to give this a shot with a cheaper deck of cards, or with one that is very worn.
Get quality decks. When you buy, choose your decks carefully. The writing is on the wall for some decks before you even use them, and a shorter life expectancy for them is almost guaranteed before you use them! This is almost always true of a cheap papery deck from your corner store. In contrast to a quality deck of Bicycle playing cards from USPCC, such a deck is doomed to wear out quickly. So it is worth the time to research the publisher of your deck before making a purchase. A more expensive deck will still wear out in the end, but you will get more mileage out of it due to the quality of the playing cards and the technology used in the production process.
Avoid black decks. This is a bit of a sneaky tip, because playing cards with black bordered backs or faces actually don’t wear out any quicker than playing cards with white borders or faces. I have read that the black ink can pick up dust and absorb moisture more quickly than white cards, but I’m not aware of scientific evidence that backs that up. But what I do know is that the signs of wear will be much more noticeable with black cards. Why? Like most playing cards, cards with black borders/faces are made of paper, and as the cards are used with any kind of frequency, the edges tend to chip and show signs of wear, because these are the parts of the cards that are handled the most and have the most contact. Unfortunately, that means that with black cards the white underneath will naturally show up more quickly. White bordered cards wear in the same way, of course, but since the wear usually shows up as white, it is far less obvious. There are techniques you can use to breathe new life into a deck with black cards, and a simple fix can be to use a black permanent marker on the edge of the cards. You’ll find other tips for extending the life of decks with black cards in the Black Deck Book from Ellusionist, which you’ll find here. But if you are going to choose a deck with black borders, just realize that it won’t look pristine for as long as a deck with white borders.
Save your custom decks. One thing you might want to consider is reserving your higher end custom decks with fancy artwork for special occasions. If you are practicing some new cardistry moves, or trying to learn some new card sleights that you know are going to be hard on your cards, then it’s probably not the best idea to use your prettiest deck. You may want to have a ready supply of cheaper decks for “training” purposes. These decks still offer quality handling and performance, but don’t cost as much money. Sure, they won’t win a Miss America contest for playing cards any time soon, but if you are going to wear out a deck through some rough handling during practice, it might as well be a budget deck like this. Save your custom decks for that special performance, that special games night, or when you want to treat yourself to something special.
Rotate your decks. Someone I know has a fairly large collection of different decks, and has a self-devised system that ensures he “rotates” through his decks, to give them all a chance of hitting the table. Many cardists tend to work with a rotational system of some kind. Not only does this help ensure that all of your decks get “air time”, but it can help extend the life of certain decks that might otherwise get used constantly.
Accept the inevitable. The bad news is that a deck of playing cards will wear out. Most playing cards are made out of paper, and paper wears when it gets used. It’s just a fact of life, so you need to accept it. If you plan to use that beautiful deck of playing cards, whether for card magic or for playing card games, it is inevitable that your prized deck is eventually going to show signs of wear. There’s a good reason that finding a century old deck of cards in pristine condition is a rare thing – not that we don’t have many decks from that time period, but it’s just that most decks that go the distance have been played and used, and you can tell at a quick glance that the cards look worn. The same will be true of your decks of playing cards – at least if you actually take the cards out of the box and actually use them.
Not that a deck which shows signs of wear is cause for sadness or grief. A deck that is being used and enjoyed is a happy deck! So actually signs of wear are usually evidence that you are using a deck of playing cards for its intended purpose, and enjoying it for what it is – and that’s often better than leaving it untouched in the fear that it might get hurt. By all means go ahead and use those decks!
Retire the irrepairable. Magicians and cardists are known to use a brand new deck for each performance, and can often wear out a deck of playing cards quite quickly. Most of us will find that we won’t go through decks at quite that level of frequency – especially if you keep the above tips in mind. But eventually a deck will have overstayed its welcome, and you know that it’s time to put it into retirement when cards are sticking together, when fans turn into ugly and clumpy messes, when individual cards look dog-eared or bent, or perhaps when you’ve had spectators sign cards (which they’ve kept as a souvenir) and it’s no longer complete.
Enjoy the perishable. Playing cards are perishable, but don’t let that stop you enjoying them. But hopefully if you keep some of these ideas in mind, you can make your decks last a little longer than they otherwise would. Who knows, perhaps someone will be admiring one of your decks a hundred years from now, silently thanking you for the good care you took of it. But more importantly, with a bit of loving care and attention, you can get extra enjoyment and mileage out of those playing cards already!
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.
We all know that playing card games can become super competitive. As a great quote from Finley Peter Dunne goes: “There are no friends at cards or world politics.” Similar is this wisdom from Charles Lamb: “Cards are war, in disguise of a sport.“
But how about using playing cards as an actual weapon of war? Certainly you could injure someone seriously if you can throw playing cards like past and present world record holders Ricky Jay or Rick Smith Jnr, who can throw a playing card accurately and quickly enough to slice fruit. But there are more subtle ways that playing cards have genuinely been used in wars, and what follows are some fascinating case examples!
Battle of San Jacinto
When General Sam Houston led Texas to freedom in the battle of San Jacinto (1836), the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution as part of the war for independence from Mexico, there were Mexicans fighting on both sides. So how could the Mexicans who were fighting for freedom with the Texan army be distinguished from those who were part of the Mexican army fighting to maintain control of the land?
Here’s the solution General Houston apparently came up with: He instructed the “Mexican-Americans” to put playing cards in their hat-bands so that the Texans could easily differentiate them from the Mexican soldiers. Doesn’t that give a whole new meaning to “showing your hand”?!
World War II
In World War II, playing card manufacturer USPCC teamed up with military forces to create decks of cards that had a full escape map printed between the two paper panels that are stuck together to make each card. Each one had a segment of the overall map, and after soaking the cards and peeling apart the two layers to access parts of the secret map, these could be puzzled together to create a complete escape map that Allied prisoners could use to help them escape from German POW camps and out of Nazi Germany. The decks were delivered to POWs in Red Cross packages.
Even today you can buy an Escape Map deck which celebrates this ingenious “map deck”, although fortunately the map of this commemorative deck is on the card faces, so you don’t need to ruin the deck to make the map!
In the Vietnam War, decks that consisted solely of Aces of Spades were produced for American soldiers, since this card was considered a symbol of death to their opposition forces, and soldiers would wear them on their helmets. The idea was that the Viet Cong was superstitious, and seeing this Ace would terrify them.
In retrospect, this practice appears to have been based on a false belief about the Viet Cong. But regardless of whether or not this psychological warfare actually worked on the enemy, it certainly did help improve morale of American troops! (For more on this story, see a detailed discussion here.)
During the Gulf War, troops that were part of the 2003 invasion of Iraq were issued playing cards that featured pictures and information about the 55 most wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s government, with Saddam himself featured on the Ace of Spades. Given that troops would often play cards during down time, they would become familiar with the names, faces, and titles of wanted Iraqis while playing card games, and thus could more easily recognize them in the field. (You can learn more about this “Most Wanted deck” in several places, e.g. here. You can even see a list that documents the eventual status of the 55 most wanted men as of 2010, e.g. here.)
This is not the first time that playing cards have been used in this fashion, with previous instances including the US Civil War, World War II, and the Korean War. There have also been reports of US soldiers handing out playing cards as “calling cards” during Operation Iraqi Freedom and during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; these cards would include an anonymous tip line phone number that locals could use.
Multiple decks of playing cards have been created as Ordnance Recognition decks, and were designed with an educational purpose for identifying unexploded ammunition and weapons that the public might stumble upon by accident in war zones. These decks are aimed at assisting people at risk (e.g. soldiers, civilians, aid workers, de-miners) to identify and learn about the threats they face from unexploded ordnance.
Such Ordinance Recognition decks are still in use today. They are typically bought by UN and government agencies to distribute to their staff and to local people, and it is believed that they actually help save lives and limbs.
Airline Spotter decks have also been used in times of war to assist anti-aircraft gunners recognize aircraft silhouettes, ensuring that they fired only at the enemy and not by mistake at allies. The cards identify 52 different aircraft including Allied bombers and fighters, as well as Axis aircraft from Germany, Japan, and Italy. Each card features detailed silhouettes from three different angles: front view, side view, and a view of the bottom of the aircraft, as it would be seen by a ground observer. Also produced were Naval Spotter decks, which featured cards with silhouettes of U.S. and foreign warships from the 1940s–1960s.
These decks served a dual purpose as entertainment and as a teaching aid. Soldiers inevitably would play cards during moments of down time, and using the card faces as a way of making them familiar with important information is genius. Replicas of these spotter decks are still available today from US Games Systems.
Finally, there’s the ongoing war against crime. Playing cards have been used to help solve actual cold cases in the fight to bring criminals to justice. Details from unsolved crimes were printed on the faces of cards along with victim photos, and these decks were given to prison inmates in many states across the United States.
Did it work? Absolutely, and at least 40 cases have been solved directly as a result of this initiative. (For more on this story, see an article here). Who ever would have thought that a prison poker game could have this kind of pay-off?
So there you have it: playing cards have actually been used as weapons of war! So maybe you should just stock up on some of your favorite custom decks – you never quite know when war might break out, and when you might need them!
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.
We had the chance to interview Sandra to hear about the story behind “The Geeky Girl Oracle Deck”. Sandra’s previous career was teaching and writing about the Zentangle method of drawing. She had made “Tangle Card” packs to teach others how to draw patterns and she wrote books. She focuses her art on drawing comics surrounding the topic of mental health, Inner Demons, and being neurodivergent. Sandra mentioned that she had been participating in the Inktober Challenge every October for the last five years. Each year she would add some more rules for herself as she would include a word prompt to practice lettering, include her own character to practice consistency, and add Zentangle patterns as a special detail. For Inktober 2021, she began adding the word “The” before each word prompt to create a tarot-inspired card. “I used that art to create a tarot deck, The Faux Tarot, with Shuffled Ink last year and I had thought I would do another one this winter. Instead, I went back through the five years of drawings and selected 32 of my favorites. I challenged myself to turn them all into paintings that would become an oracle/journaling deck.”
The Material Used To Create Each Piece
“I sketched each drawing onto mixed media paper with pencil then inked with various fine liner pens (I.e: Microns). Washes of acrylic inks filled the larger areas. The inks can be used watered down to look like watercolor or full strength as acrylic paint. Some details are added with Posca acrylic pens, Derwent Inktense, and Prismacolor colored pencils. The paintings are only 5″x7″ so I worked on two at a time, on each sheet of paper.”
“Start Small, But Start.”
We asked Sandra for some great advice to pass down to aspiring custom card creators. Here is what she shared, “Start small, but start. Once you decide what size cards you want, find out how many cards will fit on the printing sheet – and make that number of cards (or multiples). You will be paying for all the cards, even the ones that are blank – so you might as well make some extra art!”
Navigating Creative Risk
Sandra also mentioned an issue faced during the creation process which was dealing with her “insecurity” in calling it an Oracle Deck. She says “When I made The Faux Tarot, I called it a “neurodivergent tarot” – not exactly a parody, but definitely intended to be a bit different. Still, there were a few people who were offended that I wasn’t following the rules. So I was worried that some would feel that way about my oracle deck too. And I wanted people to use the cards however they wanted to – as an oracle, as a way to prompt journal writing, or just pretty cards they stuck on their fridge!” She goes on to say “I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but it was funded in four hours on Kickstarter, so… I took that as a good sign!”
Working With Shuffled Ink
We asked Sandra how her experience was working with Shuffled Ink and here is what she had to say:
“Shuffled Ink was really good at getting back to me to answer questions and send samples. The card quality is lovely.” Sandra also mentioned what she liked about the coating and how it was easier to shuffle and clean off if any messes or accidents happened. We thank Sandra for taking the time to answer our questions and tell us about the creative process behind “The Geeky Girl Oracle Deck”.
If you are interested in purchasing “The Geeky Girl Oracle Deck”, you can find it in Sandra’s Etsy shop here: www.Bumblebat.com. Make sure to follow her on social media @beezink on Instagram.
Playing cards have been part of our culture for hundreds of years, so we can expect some great stories surrounding them. One of the most famous stories of all is the legendary tale of the Dead Man’s Hand. Gamblers are a rather superstitious lot, and we’ve all heard people talk about lucky dice and lucky cards. Many hands of playing cards have even acquired their own names, and perhaps none as famous as the Dead Man’s Hand: a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights.
So what is the story behind this apparently unlucky hand, which could be an omen of death? And which elements of this tale are history, and which are myth? I’ll tell you the story, and you can decide.
Wild Bill Hickok
First let me introduce you to the famous gunman and gambler that is at the center of our story: Wild Bill Hickok (1837-1876). His real name was James Butler Hickok, but when you’re a famous gunman in the wild west, “James” doesn’t sound quite as impressive, so “Wild Bill” it was. Apparently, his long nose and large lips gave rise to the nickname “Duck Bill” in his youth, but the addition of a fierce moustache and a somewhat wild reputation eventually saw this moniker evolve into Wild Bill.
Wild Bill’s fame was well-deserved, because he was a celebrated veteran of the Civil War, and a respected lawman and gunfighter in the American West. He earned respect through his involvement in multiple shoot-outs, the iron hand by which he ruled the lawlessness of his day, and his skill as a professional gambler. The papers followed him closely, telling stories of his many gun fights and conquests.
His exploits were often sensationalized, mixing fiction with fact. So we’ll never know exactly how many men Wild Bill actually gunned down. Some journalists from his time claimed it was over a hundred, but a respected biographer suggests that the truth is closer to half a dozen. The numbers, exploits, and stories were often exaggerated by his contemporaries, and Wild Bill seems to have lent a helping hand to his growing legend by contributing some outlandish reports of his own about his achievements.
The Death Of Wild Bill
Let’s fast forward to 1876, when Wild Bill is almost 40 years old. By now he has earned a pretty penny from his gambling and from his other feats. But he is no longer quite the crack shot of his younger years, and his health is also starting to decline. Wild Bill joins a wagon train heading for South Dakota, and arrives at the town of Deadwood. There he entertains himself with one of his great loves at the local Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon No. 10: Poker.
A skilled player, Wild Bill rakes in the money as he has done so often throughout his life. On this occasion, one of the unfortunate losers is a drunken buffalo hunter named Jack McCall, whose losses are so big that he needs to rely on Wild Bill’s generosity to buy breakfast. McCall might just have considered this gesture as a grave insult, as the events of the next day would show.
The next day is August 2, 1876, and Wild Bill again heads to the saloon for some more poker. Only one seat is free at the poker table, and our hero repeatedly but unsuccessfully asks to switch seats with another player, since his preference is for a chair with his back to the wall, giving him a full view of the saloon and its entrance. So it is that Wild Bill is taken by surprise when Jack McCall steps into the saloon, yells “Damn you! Take that!”, and shoots him from behind at point-blank. Wild Bill is killed instantly, and falls from his seat, with his cards clutched in his hand: a pair of black Aces and a pair of black Eights.
McCall was initially acquitted, but was eventually tried for murder, and convicted and hanged the following year. But the story of Wild Bill’s final hand would live on. The poker game being played was a five-card stud, and there’s less certainty about the identity of the fifth card, but the other four were clearly described by a witness present at the scene as pairs of black Aces and Eights. And so began the legend of the Dead Man’s Hand.
The Dead Man’s Hand
Was Wild Bill really holding a pair of Aces and a pair of Eights? Some historians question the authenticity of the account. It has been suggested that the association between Wild Bill and this particular hand was only popularized some fifty years later, when a book about Hickok appeared. By then the story was already turning into legend, and the publication of this story certainly helped spread the legend. But it does appear that prior to the 1920s little was said about it. In fact, at one time in the 19th century the story of a Dead Man’s Hand was even reported to be connected with a completely different individual, and a completely different hand of cards. Now that we’re more than 140 years removed from the original event, it’s not likely that we’ll ever find out the truth!
Regardless of the historicity of Wild Bill’s actual hand at the time of his death, there’s no doubt that his story has become the stuff of legend. For the last hundred years, a hand with a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights has commonly been called the Dead Man’s Hand, and has been connected with Wild Bill Hickok’s death. This particular hand has become firmly entrenched in popular culture, with many references to it in countless novels, films, and even computer games.
Today there is a small casino called Saloon 10 located at the site where Wild Bill was killed. There you’ll find a historical exhibit of the Dead Man’s Hand, and signs that tell you about the story behind it. Wild Bill may be long dead, but his legend lives on, although in modern poker a pair of Aces and a pair of Eights is actually a decent combination, and is not exactly likely to get you killed!
The Dead Man’s Deck
As a special homage to this tale, the folks at Vanishing Inc Magic have produced a special deck of playing cards. It’s a limited edition deck geared to collectors, and commemorates the story of Wild Bill and his unfortunate demise. The tuck box has a plain and sober look with muted black and yellowed borders, that makes it appear to be an authentic relic from yesteryear.
Be ready for a surprise when taking the cards out of the box, because the entire deck literally has a hole that goes all the way through the very middle of all the cards, for a very fun novelty look. A round metal musket ball is inside the hole, to complete the dramatic effect. The cards look deliberately weathered and worn, while burn marks surround the bullet hole on both sides of each card. This isn’t a deck for the squeamish, because there are apparent smears of blood on the black Aces and Eights that constituted the legendary Dead Man’s Hand, while blood splatters also adorn several other cards.
The card backs are identical, so you can still use this as a regular deck if you wish. These have a one-way design, and careful observers will notice details connected to the tale of Wild Bill, such as references to his initials JBH, as well as to the cards of the Dead Man’s Hand. The design of the face cards employs a vintage style, while the artwork of the court cards follows the older French styled look rather than the classical Bicycle look that we’re used to today, including the use of indices on all four corners. Two extra cards are included, one with a photo of Wild Bill, and the other telling a short version of his story. The printing of the deck was done by Expert Playing Card Company, so the cards look great and handle smoothly.
This is a very original and fun deck that stands out from others in my collection due to the novelty value, and the great story behind it. You could certainly use it for a card trick that has a Wild West story line, and it might especially appeal to magicians that do gambling routines. People who have the book Scarne on Card Tricks should check out the trick “Wild Bill Hickock’s Hand” (p.298) which is a Henry Christ routine that uses the Dead Man’s Hand as the background and plot. Of course you could also use it for a game of Poker or for any other card game too. It’s also a great conversation piece and collector’s item. Just remember to keep your back to the wall!
Where to get it? The Dead Man’s Deck is available here.
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.
If you’re asking “how to sell custom cards” and don’t want general advice, you’re in the right place! To help save you time and money from learning by mistakes, we asked our clients to share their secrets! Here you will learn the most essential tips for selling custom cards and emphasizing your brand’s uniqueness!
“The Desert Illuminations Tarot was created with the intention to have an interactive and spiritually charged body of work that connected with others through my personal language of illustration, tarot, narrative, and design. I believe a lot of my success with this tarot deck was because it resonated with a lot of different types of people all over the world. My followers noticed that The Desert Illuminations Tarot came right from my heart and that I was having a lot of fun during the creative process. They really enjoyed watching the deck form from just an idea into a physical reality via my Instagram presence.”
“For anyone starting out as a deck creator, it is important to figure out your niche and utilize a wide variety of social media outlets to grow an organic following. The more you are personally engaged, show your unique personality, and communicate with those who admire your work, the more they will become invested in continuing to support your art and ideas. People love to watch the creative process and are inspired by an artist’s personal journey. The power of human connection through social media engagement is a huge contribution to making your dream of a successful deck a reality. Stay authentic and present and the rest will surely fall into place.” – Lindsay D Williams
The Importance of Connecting With The Right Company
“It was super important to me to find a printing company that understood what I was going for design-wise and that was communicative throughout the whole process especially when it came to the design layout and making sure the proofs had very little editing at the end.” – Lindsay D Williams
Why Shuffled Ink Was The Right Choice.
“Shuffled Ink was the right choice because I loved that they are based in the United States and is a family-owned business. Knowing this, I knew I would be getting a quality product and communication would be easier for me with my project manager. I was so glad I chose this company because of the extremely high-quality product and because they made the whole process of creating my first tarot deck really easy and enjoyable” – Lindsay D Williams
“The best advice I can offer small business owners selling custom cards: When you’re ready and able to scale your business, invest as much as you can afford into larger quantities of cards. This will reduce costs and increase your profits. We started by ordering about 25 to 50 decks of The Hidden Truth Oracle, and we now order 5k at a time.” – Kristin Hey
The Importance of Working With The Right Company
“Finding a high-quality and responsive US-based manufacturing partner was essential for All Things Intuitive. We produce some of the hottest decks among influencers on YouTube and TikTok and quality matters. We feel that we set ourselves apart from a lot of other oracle card creators because we use a better card stock — 330 GSM and 410 gsm — depending on the deck, and we add the aqueous coating for a longer-lasting product.” – Kristin Hey
Why Shuffled Ink Was The Right Choice.
“We needed a reliable manufacturer. We sell on Amazon and can’t afford to have a production lag that many of our competitors working with overseas providers experience. Especially during the pandemic, using a printer based in the United States was critical for our business.” – Kristin Hey
Shop: Blooming Flowers Creative Arts Healing, LLC
Social: Instagram @bloomingflowersbykh.
3. Learn to Reach Your Target Audience.
“As a small business owner that’s just beginning to get my feet wet – for the most part, is knowing first, how I can reach those who have shared in some of the same experiences/journeys that I have been on. Next, is finding and building alongside like-minded individuals who have similar interests, passions, purposes, or goals. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in sharing what you’ve created, however, there may be a small percentage of individuals that don’t understand why you have created custom cards. Only you as the content creator know why. Patience is certainly a good thing and worth the wait!” -Kelly Hamm
The Importance of Working With The Right Company
“Personally, it was extremely important to connect with a quality partner that would be timely in responding to what I was envisioning my product to become and also to have the flexibility in manufacturing, to distribute the custom cards deck(s) timely.”-Kelly Hamm
Why Shuffled Ink Was The Right Choice.
“After my first initial conversation with Lisa Levin and other outstanding team members at Shuffled Ink – my experience with Shuffled Ink has been nothing short of Superb Exquisite Excellence! From the eco-friendly materials, packaging options, questions, responses, e-mails, phone calls, digital proofs, hard copy proofs, production time turnaround, shipping, delivery, and then follow-up. It was more like a dream, but after pinching myself, very real, indeed! I can honestly say it was one of the most magical experiences to journey with Shuffled Ink on. To see the vision coming into fruition alongside a company of highly professional team members, that put just as much heart and soul into bringing the highest quality of custom cards to life as the photographic lens did, at times, no words, just awe. The graphic design team – “Wowza”! Every step of the process was beautiful! Therefore, without hesitation or reservation and with the sincerest heart of gratitude – Shuffled Ink will be the number one company I turn to for every custom card created.” -Kelly Hamm
“Get out there and talk about your product often, with everyone you meet. Carve out strategic, scheduled times to promote it, with specific goals to reach a planned number of people. Have an elevator speech prepared so you know what to say if you only have a short time to speak.
But also take advantage of opportunities to spontaneously talk about your business/product. Be prepared to promote it at all times! Have whatever promotional materials you need (samples, brochures, etc.) with you. You never know who might be interested, or whom you might run into unexpectedly.
Your enthusiasm and excitement are contagious! Having an elevator speech prepared is a good idea, but always let your passion for your product shine through!” -Alison Hartrum
The Importance of Working With The Right Company
“It is crucial! I needed to feel the partnership, I needed to feel that this was not just a transaction for the company with whom I was doing business. It was important to me that I truly felt that I had a partner in this, who cared about the product and was as enthusiastic and excited as I was about it. I put so much into designing and developing and proofing these cards, so many hours of planning and careful work, that it was vital for me to feel that their manufacture was in safe hands.” -Alison Hartrum
Why Shuffled Ink Was The Right Choice.
“Absolutely, without a doubt, Shuffled Ink was who I needed. They were excellent communicators, and patient with both my questions and my answers when they had questions. I could not have asked for a company to be more forthcoming and understanding of my vision and what I needed. I have a product that I’m immensely proud of because of their professionalism, friendliness, and outstanding customer service. They were truly partners in this project, and I will always be grateful for their amazing work.” -Alison Hartrum
An owner, HR director or recruiter who finds it difficult to find and retain good salespeople
An owner who believes in continued education and does not want his/her sales staff to get apathetic
An owner whose sales team is struggling; perhaps your salespeople are good at making friends, but not good at developing business
A sales manager who wants his/her sales team to be the best they can be…a well-oiled machine
A sales manager who wants his/her new salespeople up and running much faster and with quicker success
A solo entrepreneur who wants the best in coaching and guidance
Well then, the Magic of Selling Sales Training and Coaching is for you. Our superpower is that we can help your sales team sell more BRILLIANTLY!
Here Is What To Expect In The Process:
“You and your sales team will be taken on a journey through the world of sales. The objective is to introduce proven techniques, tips, strategies, and skill sets which will help everyone sell from a position of strength and be much more effective in their sales career. Offered up are cutting-edge, customized selling tools coupled with wisdom and a wealth of valuable information which will help maximize production, increase sales and meet all objectives. This is all done within an atmosphere of learning filled with new insight, perspective, motivation, and inspiration. There will be countless takeaways and pearls of wisdom throughout that can be applied immediately.”
All Of Which Will Lead To:
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Better Closing Ratio
You can contact me, Daniel Hollis, for a free consultation on your business and how we could game plan for success.
Dan Hollis | Founder, Sales Trainer & Coach Website: www.themagicofselling.net Email: email@example.com c 973-862-8331
Working With Shuffled Ink
I know that most testimonials traditionally start out with something a customer is very pleased with regarding a product they previously purchased, or service rendered. Mine is being written a little bit more in the middle of the process.
An idea was hatched when a colleague of mine suggested that I create a “pocket product.” Something that I could sell or even use in my sales training seminars in conjunction with my books, CD’s, etc. This evolved into the idea that I had wherein I could possibly put some of my greatest sales tips onto a deck of cards. The idea really excited me. I envisioned a salesperson arriving early for a meeting and reviewing their “deck of cards” so that they were completely in the right frame of mind for their sales call. I just had endless ideas in my mind about how this sales deck of cards could be used.
Through fortuitous serendipity, I found Shuffled Ink. More importantly, I found Charles and Lisa. Charles is the founder and owner of Shuffled Ink and Lisa, his daughter, the VP/Project Manager. I was blown away by their customer service. The most important thing to me when working with someone is that I feel like they actually “give a s…” (pardon the expression.) Well, not only did my proof look incredible (from the elements I shared – for my deck of cards), but Lisa and Charles are so down to earth. As Charles said, their biggest unique selling proposition IS their customer service with a sprinkle of TLC. They want happy customers. Customers that turn into lifelong, raving fan customers.
So here I am, the last step, waiting with eager anticipation for my cards to arrive. Kind of like Christmas morning is coming. So thank you Shuffled Ink, Charles, Lisa, Isaias (in graphics), and everyone else that has helped. When I really like something, I have a tendency to want to share that with everyone I know. I look forward to steering people towards Shuffled ink. These cards are going to get a lot of mileage for sure.
Most specialized hobbies and interests have their own terminology, and the world of playing cards and card games is no different. Most readers likely have some experience with playing cards and with card games, and so you are probably already familiar with quite a few common terms and words that are used. But are you sure that you’re using the right words? It’s easy to learn new words from other people, but that doesn’t guarantee you’re thinking of the right meaning.
What is the difference, for example, between a court card, a picture card, and a face card? And what exactly is meant by a spot card, and are there alternate words that are more commonly used for the same thing? What are the proper names for all the four suits, and should we have a preference for “clovers” or “clubs”? As for card games, could you explain the difference between a hand and a trick, and distinguish between the stock and a tableau?
We’re here to help. If you’re already an established card connoisseur, this glossary will help give you a quick refresher course and polish your existing knowledge. And if you’re still quite new to playing cards, this list will hopefully help you become more informed. And if you enjoy card handling or card games, this collection of terms will prove useful as well. Whatever the case, knowing a thing or two about the language of playing cards will help us enjoy them all the more!
Playing Card Terms
These terms relate to playing cards themselves, with common words and phrases relating to how they are made and what they look like.
Ace. The number one card of each suit. Black Lady. The Queen of Spades, also called the Black Maria. Bridge-size. A narrow size playing card with a width of 2.25 inches, contrasted with the more common 2.5 inch wide “poker-size”. Color. Spades and Clubs are considered “Black” in color, while Hearts and Diamonds are considered “Red”. Deuce. A card with two pips. Cellophane. The protective plastic shrink-wrap that most decks of playing cards are wrapped in. Clubs. English term for the French suit trefle, corresponding to swords (Italian/Spanish), and acorns (Swiss/German). Coating. The protective coating applied in the final stages of the printing process by the playing card manufacturer. Cold foil stamping. The modern method of printing metallic foil (contrasted with “hot foil”), which uses printing plates instead of stamping tools. Court cards. Kings, Queens, and Jacks. Also called “face cards” or “picture cards”. Deck. A pack of playing cards, usually 52 cards plus two Jokers. Diamonds. English term for the French suit “carreau“, corresponding to coins (Italian/Spanish), and bells (Swiss/German). Embossing. The dimpled “finish” on the surface of the cards themselves; can also refer to the raised surface that are parts of the tuck box design. Face cards. Kings, Queens, and Jacks. Also called “court cards” or “picture cards”. Face-down. A card placed so that its back is showing, while its face is adjacent to the table. Face-up. A card placed so that its number or picture is showing. Fanning powder. A white powder (usually zinc stearate) used to improve handling by reduce the friction between playing cards. Finish. The type of embossing used on the surface of a playing card, typically this is smooth or embossed. Foil. A shiny metallic material applied to the surface of a playing card or tuck box, usually by a process of hot or cold foil stamping. Hearts. English term for the French suit “coeur“, corresponding to cups (Italian/Spanish), flowers (Swiss), and hearts (German). Hot foil stamping. The older method of printing metallic foil (contrasted with “cold foil”), where a heated die is used to stamp metallic foil onto a playing card at high temperatures. Index. The small number/letter and suit symbol in the corner of a card that shows its suit and value, especially useful in a fanned hand. Joker. Extra card that comes with a 52 card deck, and used in some games as a wild card or the highest trump. Knave. The Jack of a suit. Marked. A deck that has secret marks integrated into the artwork on the back of the cards, often enabling the suit and rank of the card to be identified. Metallic ink. A liquid ink containing metallic particles which reflect light, usually creating a less intense effect than metallic foil Numerals. Number cards, as opposed to courts, also called “pip cards” or “spot cards”. One-eyes. The Jack of Spades, Jack of Hearts, and King of Diamonds. One-way. A back design that isn’t symmetrical, enabling cards rotated 180 degrees to be easily identified. Pack. A deck of playing cards, usually 52 cards plus two Jokers. Pasteboards. Another term for playing cards, originating from when the front and back of a card were literally pasted together. Picture cards. Kings, Queens, and Jacks. Also called “court cards” or “face cards”. Pip. The large suit symbols on a card (Spade, Club, Heart, or Diamond) Pip value. The numerical value of a card. Poker-size. A standard size playing card with a width of 2.5 inches, contrasted with the narrow 2.25 inch wide “bridge-size”. Rank. The ordinal position (number value) of a card in a suit, e.g. 2 of Diamonds and 2 of Clubs have the same rank, while a King outranks a Queen. This is sometimes also called “denomination”. Seal. The sticker used to seal a box of playing cards; a practice which originated with tax stamps. Smooth. An unembossed surface. Soft. Card-stock that bends easily. Spades. English term for the French suit “pique“, corresponding to batons (Italian), clubs (Spanish), escutcheons (Swiss), and leaves (German). Spot card. Any card from 2 through 10, also called “pip cards”, as opposed to “court cards”. Spot UV: A secondary printing process which adds a clear gloss coating to selected parts of a card or tuck box in order to add sheen and texture. Stock. The type of paper used for the manufacturing of a playing card. Suicide King. King of Hearts, so named due to the traditional orientation of the sword he usually holds. Trey. A card with three pips. Tuck. Short form for “tuck box”, which is the box or case containing the deck.
Card Handling Terms
Many of these terms relate to handling a deck of playing cards, and some of them are especially important for those who do card magic.
Biddle Grip. Taking a deck out of Mechanics Grip by grasping the top and bottom edges, holding it with your thumb on one edge and your index finger on the other edge. Also called “End Grip”, this is the most common way to hold a deck along with the “Mechanics Grip”. Bridge. A classy flourish where two interwoven halves of a deck spring together. Burn. Reveal and then bury a card. Bury. Place a card at the bottom of the deck, or in the middle of the deck so it can’t be easily located Cut. Divide the deck into two packets, and reverse their order. Deal. Pass out cards to the other players. In card games this is usually done from a face-down pack, in clockwise order starting with the player on the dealer’s left. Dealers Grip. See under “Mechanics Grip”. Dribble. Releasing a deck of cards one at a time from the fingers and thumb so that they fall downwards in a steady flow. Fan. A spread of cards held in a semi-circular shape, with overlapping cards that show the indices. Faro. A shuffling method where the two halves of the deck interweave perfectly like a zipper exactly one card at a time. Flash. Expose a card accidentally while dealing or handling a deck. Flip. Turn a card face up. Flourish. A visually impressive display of skill performed with playing cards. Force. Making a spectator select a predetermined card apparently at “random”. Hindu. A shuffling method from Asia where the cards are moved in lengthwise packets. Key Card. A known card in a deck, typically adjacent to the spectator’s selected unknown card. Mechanics Grip. Holding a deck squarely in the center of your left hand, as if you were dealing cards for a game. Also called “Dealers Grip”, this is the most common way to hold a deck of cards. Outjog. Push out a card from a deck so that its top half is protruding and visible above the other cards. Overhand. A shuffling method where the cards are moved in sideways packets; the most commonly method of shuffling cards. Packet. Part of a deck, usually consisting of a number of individual cards. Ribbon spread. A “spread” of cards across a table or mat. Riffle. A shuffling method where the deck is divided into two packets, and using the thumbs to making the cards fall quickly and interweave together. Scaling. A specialized technique in throwing cards frisbee-style at high speed. Shuffle. Randomizing the cards in a deck by a mixing process. Smear fan. A fan made with one hand, and often using only half the deck. Spread. Showing a hand, packet, or deck of cards face-up, often with cards overlapping. Spring. A flashy flourish where the entire deck springs one card at a time from hand to hand. Square. Straightening the edges of a deck in the hands or on the table. Stacked deck. A deck where the cards are set-up with a pre-arranged order. Strip. Remove low cards from a deck. Thumb fan. A fan made by holding the entire deck in one hand and using the thumb of the other hand to spread it. Vanish. Make something disappear.
Card Game Terms
Many individual card games have their own terms, such as Euchre (Bower, Going Alone, Order Up, March), Cribbage (Crib, Go, His Heels, His Nob, Muggins, Peg, Starter), and Poker (Blind, Check, Hole Card, Straight), so this is not an exhaustive list, but focuses on terms that are common to most card games.
Ace High (or Low). The Ace is the highest (or lowest) ranked card in a suit. Age. Order of priority in play, starting with the player who must first bid, bet, or lead. This usually begins with the player (“eldest hand”) on the left of the dealer. Announce. Name a trump suit or show your melds. Ante. A bet or contribution to the pot made before the deal. Auction. The period of bidding before cards are played, to establish the conditions of the game (e.g. the trump suit, how many tricks are needed to win). Bank. The dealer or house in a gambling game. Best. Highest ranking card. Bid. A proposal to win a specific number of tricks or points. Bidder. Any player who makes a bid, or the player who makes the highest bet. Blank. A card worth nothing in a card-point game; or alternatively a hand without court cards. Blank suit. Having no cards of a specific suit, sometimes also referred to as void. Bluff. Pretend you have better or different cards than what you actually have in hand. Buy. Draw from the stock or widow. Carte Blanche. A hand with no court cards (but may contain an Ace), also called a “blank”. Case card. The final card of a particular rank that remains in play. Catch. Getting valuable cards when drawing from the stock or widow. Chicane. A dealt hand that has no trumps. Chip. A token or gaming counter used in gambling games in place of money. Coffee housing. Acting or speaking in a way to mislead your opponents about the cards you have in hand. Combination. A set of cards recognized by the game rules as having a scoring value, usually a set of the same rank or suit. Contract. Obligation to win a certain number of tricks or points. Coup. A winning play or bet, or an especially good play. Cover. Playing a card higher than the previous highest card in a trick. Cut-throat. A variant of a partnership game where players play for themselves against the other players. Dealer. The person who deals cards to the other players. Declare. Announce the contract or conditions of play (e.g. name a trump suit, or the number of tricks to be won). Alternatively, this can mean to show and score the valid combinations (e.g. melds) of cards in your hand. Declarer. The person who is the highest bidder, who declares, and then has the aim of making good the stated contract. Discard. Putting an unwanted card to the discard pile, sometimes called “throw off” and used to refer to playing a worthless card in a trick. Discard pile. The cards that have been discarded during pile, usually face up. Doubleton. Holding two cards of the same suit. Draw. Take an additional card, usually from the draw pile or stock, and sometimes from the top of the discard pile. Draw pile. The cards remaining after the deal, also called the stock. Drinking game. Typically has the aim of producing a loser rather than a winner, who must buy the next round. Eldest hand. The player besides the dealer (usually on his left) who receives cards first and plays first; sometimes also called first hand. Exchange. Trade a number of cards from your hand with another player, or draw from the stock and discard the same number (or in the opposite order). Exit. Force another player to win a trick, or get out of being the player who leads. Finesse. Holding back a certain winning card and playing a card of lesser strength in the hope of capturing an extra trick. Flush. A hand of cards of the same suit. Fold. Drop out, usually by turning down your face-up cards. Follow. Play second or third etc after a trick has been “led”. Follow suit. Play a card of the same suit as the first card played. Four of a kind. Four cards of the same rank, e.g. four tens. In some games this is called a “book”. Full house. A combination of five cards that includes a three-of-a-kind and a pair. Gambling game. A game played for money. Go out. Play your last card, thus getting rid of all cards in your hand. Hand. Cards dealt or held by a player during a game. Alternatively a “hand” can refer to the portion of a game from when the cards are dealt until they are all played. Hand-play. Playing without using a widow. Head. Play a higher card than any thus far played to a trick. Honors. The high cards of a suit (Ace, King, Queen, and Jack, and sometimes also the 10), especially if they have scoring value. Knock. Indicating that all your cards are melded (e.g. in Rummy), or that you won’t make a further bet (e.g. in Poker). Lead. Play the first card of a trick; alternatively, as a reference to this card. Long card. A card in your hand in a suit that opponents no longer have. Maker. The player who names the trump suit. Marriage. King and Queen of a suit. Master card. The highest ranked card in a suit that is live or unplayed. Meld. A matched set of three or more cards having the same rank, or having the same suit and being in consecutive order. As a verb, “meld” means to declare or lay out one or more such sets. This term is mainly used in Rummy. No-trump. A declaration where the hand is played with no trump suit. Nullo. A declaration where the aim is to avoid winning tricks or points. Pair. Two cards of the same rank. Partnership. Two or more players working co-operative to win. Pass. Declare that you don’t bid or bet, or that you withdraw from the current deal. Pot. The money or chips representing a game’s bets, sometimes also called a “kitty” or “pool”. Plain card. A non-trump card, sometimes also called “plain suit”. Play. Take a card from your hand and use it in a game. Raise. Increase a preceding bet. Renege. A failure to play a required card, usually when you don’t follow suit; also called “revoke”. Renounce. Play a card other than the suit led. Round. When all players participate once in a deal, bet, or play of a card. Rubber. A set of three successive games; usually so described in matches of Whist or Bridge. Ruff. Play a trump in a trick led with a plain suit. Run. A sequence of two or more cards of adjacent rank, which in some games must be of the same suit; sometimes also simply called a “sequence”. Sandbagging. The strategy of holding back cards in a good hand to trap an opponent into a greater loss later in the hand. Sequence. A “run” of two or more cards of adjacent rank, which in some games must be of the same suit. Shedding. Games where the aim is to be the first to get rid of all your cards. Singleton. Holding one card of any suit. Stock. The cards remaining after the deal, also called the draw pile. Three of a kind. Three cards of the same rank, e.g. three tens; sometimes called a “triplet”. Tops. Highest cards in a suit. Trick. One card from each player, usually won and taken by the player who played the highest or best card. Trick-taking. Games based on the principle of trick-play. Trump. A selected suit that outranks the other suits, e.g. a Two of a trump suit will beat a King of any other suit. As a verb, “trump” means to play a trump card that beats other non-trump cards. Turn. In rotation, a player’s opportunity to deal, declare, bet, or play. Turn up. A card placed face-up after the deal, to determine (or propose) the trump suit. Unload. Get rid of the dangerous cards from your hand. Void. Having no cards of a specific suit, sometimes also referred to as “blank suit”. As a verb, “void” means the act of discarding all cards of a suit to achieve this. Widow. Extra cards that are dealt face-down at the start of the game which don’t belong to a particular player; often a player is given opportunity to exchange some cards with it. Wild card. A card that can be used to represent the rank/suit of any other card (as allowed by the game rules), usually as designated by its holder. Youngest hand. The player last in turn to bid or play (contrast with “eldest hand”). In two player games this is the dealer, who is sometimes also called a “pone”.
Solitaire Game Terms
Solitaire or patience games often have their own terminology, so a separate section has been devoted to this.
Available. A card available to be played or transferred in the layout, and which is not blocked. Blocked. A card that that is partially or completely covered by another card, and thus not available to be played or transferred in the layout. Build. Transfer and lay cards in the tableau. Build up. Laying cards on a Foundation card in ascending order of rank. Build down. Laying cards on a Foundation card in descending order of rank. Cascade. Cards built on each other, but where the indices of all the cards are still visible. Center. Part of the layout in the middle. Column. Cards in a vertical line extending toward you, where the may cards overlap but show their indices, usually in a tableau. File. A column in the tableau. Foundation. A card in the center on which other cards are built up or down, often an Ace or a King. Hand. The draw pile or stock that remains after the tableau is laid out. In Sequence. A requirement that cards be placed on one another exactly one higher (or lower). Layout. The prescribed arrangement of cards dealt out, consisting of the tableau, and possibly a stock and foundations. Re-deal. After the initial stock has been used, to use the cards from the Waste pile. Row. A line of cards side by side, where the cards may overlap but still show their indices. Space. A vacancy in the tableau as a result of removing the cards of one pile. Stack. Cards placed on each other so only the top card is visible. Tableau. The prescribed arrangement of cards dealt out, i.e. the layout excluding the stock and foundations; in some games the tableau refers to the entire layout. Talon. Cards turned up from the stock or hand and laid aside in one or more packets as unwanted or unplayable; sometimes also called a “waste” or “waste-pile”. Waive. Being able to lift a card and play the card below it. Waste. See under “Talon”. Wrapping. Allowing a sequence where an Ace can continue from a King; also called “Building around the corner”.
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, and collecting playing cards. This article first appeared on PlayingCardDecks.com here.
We had a great opportunity to interview Nicole Lynn to hear about the wonderful story behind her card deck called “Mushroom Medicine Oracle deck.” The Mushroom Medicine Oracle deck is a 33-card deck that “ takes you through a rite of passage of Transition, Grief, and Transformation back into Connection, Integration, and Wholeness.”
The Enchanting Inspiration Behind The Mushroom Medicine Card Deck Idea
We asked Nicole what sparked the inspiration for the card deck. She discussed starting her journey with Fungi from 2015 to 2016. “Every day, in all weather and conditions, nature walks opened up a deep listening within me beyond the narrative conscious thinking mind operating system.” She found herself in a transitional time “full of death and desperation.” After spending more time with nature, she felt the sprinkle of inspiration to create the Mushroom Medicine Oracle deck. “ I began holding Soul to Soul sessions with the Fungi in the forest and hence this is the birthing place of the Oracle deck. The photographs, conversations, energetic exchange of energy, poetry, musings, and compilation are all the by-product of our Soul to Soul time together.” She continues to share that her deep love towards the healing of her ancestral family lineage brought her throughout a lifetime of heartache and grief. She was able to “unlearn ways of being in a relationship, first and foremost with myself, and eventually with others.” “ I put everything into my path of devotion and reconnection to Nature. It is my hope to leave this legacy for the future generations as well as the past generations. Mushroom Medicine Oracle is a culmination of all of this. I have much to thank for such a sacred path.”
The Creative Process
Nicole shares that she was able to capture these beautiful images of nature with just her iPhone! She then hired her dear friend, Erica Marsden, to help with the digital design process. They would then get together for the next 8 months to discuss the design, colors, and overall layout of the mushroom medicine oracle deck. “ It was a synergy of her graphic design background and my intuitive connection that blended our expertise into this creation.” Like any creative project, It can also be overwhelming as Nicole mentions, “ I don’t think either of us knew what we were getting ourselves into, but we held true to our commitments and persevered.”
The Perfectionist Compulsion
All artists experience the magical force to create a project to the most perfect condition! Sometimes we may feel like our creation still isn’t finished. It’s a common feeling and even Nicole expresses her experience with having to break the cycle of perfecting each detail, “so many revisions down to the tiniest of details. As an artist, you eventually have to stop. I had to let go of perfection and trust in the purity and Essence of its creation.” This is a good reminder for artists who are struggling to feel “finished” with their project due to wanting to perfect every single detail. Understandably, as it can be very stressful to share your masterpiece with the public for the first time knowing how much work you put into it.
Releasing The Oracle Card Deck To The Public
“It’s still so new and fresh, and in a lot of ways just beginning. I’m filled with a mixed bag of emotions as I introduce Mushroom Medicine Oracle to the world. Sometimes playful giddy-joy-bubbles up through me and other times joyful overflowing tears and awe-inspiring amazement. This has been an incredible journey, and all the experiences that have brought me here flood through my body.”
Tips For Aspiring Oracle Artist & Designers
“Trust your inspiration and devotion. When things get overwhelming, they will come back to the sweet pure space within you where your project was being birthed inside of you. All of our creations first are formed in ourselves (our cells). To be inspired is to be in Spirit. You can trust this point of creation regardless of how the project appears physically, our expectations, or other people’s perceptions. You can trust yourself.”
Working With Shuffled Ink
We asked Nicole about her experience working with Shuffled Ink and here is what she had to say:
“Shuffled Ink was the first printing company that showed up on my radar. I kept looking because I wanted to see what “Eco-friendly and Green” companies existed first. I found some interesting insights along the way. I spoke with over twenty printing companies within the United States and some that could “market” the sustainable, earth-friendly perspective I valued, but I didn’t find the integrity of their words matching the integrity of their manufacturers or work. I wanted trustworthy and honest people who could be upfront and not “sugarcoat”. Shuffled Ink was this company. I kept coming back to them. They were upfront and left the decision up to me without manipulation or icky sales tactics. I appreciated this immensely. Sometimes true sustainability starts with honesty. The quality of the cards surpassed my imagination. I am thrilled with the quality. It’s my first deck and it turned out beautifully. Someday I see the booklet being more of a bound book with even more musings and photographs and the soft tuck box being a beautiful hard box to keep everything sweetly inside. I am overjoyed with this creation. Thanks Shuffled Ink.”
Follow Nicole On Her Journey With The Mushroom Medicine Oracle Deck
“I truly believe our whole lives are integrated into one seamless whole, and that when awakened to the totality of our Soul’s existence, we can rest in the loving awareness that our life has intrinsic value and profound meaning for the purpose of the whole of ourselves, our humanity, planet, and eternal states of consciousness. This is just my solo journey and I’m grateful to share it with all of you.” To check out Nicole’s website or to visit her socials click the links below!
Nicole shares that there will be another print run soon and on her website or Etsy for people to purchase in the Spring / Summer of 2023. “I am taking it one step at a time and enjoying the process. I’ll be selling the deck at the Maine Fungi Fest in May 2023 as well. Follow me on my social media sites and I’ll keep everyone up to date.”
Created by professional magicians who believe the magic industry is a microcosm of the world, Sisterhood Playing Card Company uses custom-designed decks of cards to start essential conversations about issues impacting women.
Are you wondering why you’ve never heard of them before? Don’t worry; you haven’t missed anything!
Who Is Sisterhood Playing Card Company?
For a couple of years, you’ve known me as Rosemary Reid, the Real Deal writer, and professional magician. Now, I am writing to you as the new kid on the custom playing card block. And after watching, listening, and studying, I’ve come prepared to throw an incredible block party. So get ready to scream, shout, and let it all out; nothing like this has ever been done.
It All Started With A Survey
After twenty years in showbiz, the number one question people STILL ask me is, ‘Why aren’t there more women magicians?!’ With hopes of providing a final answer to this burning question, I even created this in-depth piece of work several years ago. Yet, years later, the query remains. To dig deeper, my team and I compiled a list of every person who identifies as a woman magician we could find on Google. Every. Single. One. Before reading on, please venture a guess in your mind as to how many you believe we found.
Have you thought of a number? Good.
What is your reaction knowing that after scouring the internet for several months, our list included 561 women magicians?
Knowing more about where we are seems like the best way to plan a brighter future. So we compiled a survey full of poignant questions across various topics related to the magic industry. Of 561 people, 230 agreed to participate in our groundbreaking survey. Believe it or not, that makes this the largest survey ever conducted in all of magic. Amazing!
After receiving all the responses, we contacted the Senior Insight Manager of the world’s leading broadcast news organization for her expert analysis. And while the numbers confirm many positive experiences, they also lay bare some harsh realities that women magicians – and women as a group in general – face.
Though the findings from our survey could easily fill an entire magazine, I take pride in knowing my audience. Perhaps you’re wondering, ‘What does a survey have to do with a deck of cards?’
Playing Cards As A Vehicle of Information
Once our groundbreaking survey responses were transformed into digestible statistics, sharing this information with everyone was the next step. Magicians must first talk about the culture of our industry to begin creating something different, like a more welcoming space for women to exist. What better way to reach magicians than with playing cards?
Our inaugural SISTERHOOD Deck advertises and promotes the groundbreaking and essential Sisterhood Survey results. Each deck comes with a detailed printed guide that explains all the art choices and shares many statistics we uncovered. Including several new takes on old traditions, this deck promises to spark change throughout both the magic and playing card industries. We use decks of cards as vehicles to empower, support, and educate people worldwide. All of this makes Sisterhood Playing Cards the Real Deal, if I say so myself.
Some of the statistics shared at the Sisterhood Salon held on June 29th, 2022.
The Blue/Silver and Red/Gold designer Ace of hearts. The two colourways get incorporated throughout the accents on all of the
cards, not only the tuck box and the backs.
The SISTERHOOD Deck
Like a luxury car, our inaugural SISTERHOOD Deck makes a strong statement. Specially designed court cards, a unique designer ace, and diptych jokers are all printed on premium crushed paper stock. Even the most seasoned card collectors will want to take this deck for a spin. An all-new back design and customcreated pips and indices make this an entirely original piece of work—these unique components working together harness transformative power.
Imagine An Automatic Conversation Starter
The discussion begins when the tuck box comes out. It’s flashy enough to get people talking. Inquiring minds want to know, ‘What’s that you’re holding? It’s beautiful!’
Famed Canadian illustrator Brendan Hong (Hive 1 & 2, Dynasty Playing Cards, etc.) outdid himself with this inside and outside the printed box. Complete with hot-foiling and embossing, the tuck box glints and glimmers with every tilt. So satisfying! Plus, these decks got designed in two colourways, red/gold and blue/silver.
Once the cards come out of the box, you’ll also appreciate Hong’s work on the back design. Combining antique, vintage, and modern graphic elements, it’s broadly appealing to collectors. The colourways don’t stop at the box and backs. All accents are adjusted to match silver or gold. We’ve placed our maker’s mark on the Ace of Hearts. The heart symbol better represents the Sisterhood PCC brand. Considering the millions of designer aces of spades in circulation, perhaps this is a refreshing change? I look forward to seeing the creative uses my fellow magi may find for both a designer Ace of Hearts and a plain Ace of Spades. My research tells me this is only the third time in history (excluding a few modern decks) the Ace of Hearts serves as the official designer ace. I’ve discovered two others; one on a Piatnik & Söhne deck and the other on an Argentinian import from the New York Consolidated Card Company (NYCCC). If any readers have more/ different information, please send it to Rosemary@ RosemaryReid.com.
The tuck box, back design, and designer ace each contribute to making this deck a conversation piece. Once the dialogue shifts to the unique court cards, our opportunity to create change becomes real.
Essential Court Cards
Conceptualized by yours truly, and brought to life by acclaimed Canadian artist Kaitlynn Copithorne, our twelve custom-created court cards are the engine behind this deck. All twelve portray images of women. These kinds of illustrations have NEVER been seen on playing cards before! Considering how many playing cards exist worldwide, the lack of accurate female representation is astounding.
One side of the printed guide that comes with each SISTERHOOD Deck. It folds down to the actual size of a deck of playing cards. Importantly, each court card connects to a statistic from our survey, reflecting the 230 magicians who participated.
Though we have just twelve opportunities, we attempt to portray a wide array of female experiences. Our Queens range in age, size, and colour. When viewed sequentially, Hearts to Spades, Spades to Diamonds, and ending with Clubs, the depiction of an archetypal journey through life emerges.
Each court has been given a nickname. Our ‘Kid Magician Queen’ of Hearts, ‘Double Standard Queen’ of Spades, and ‘Elder Queen’ of Clubs, seem to be three crowd favourites. Yet, every card is worth studying. At a glance, you might miss the details on our ‘Survival Queen’, the Jack of Spades. Look at how she holds her keys. It’s a subtle detail many women recognize and understand. Do you?
Are you wondering if you can still play games and perform magic with this unique deck? The answer is YES! We maintain the J, Q, and K indices so that you can use this deck for all card games and magic performances.
Baby’s First Kickstarter Campaign
After nearly two years in the making, the SISTERHOOD Deck Kickstarter launches within the next 60 days.
Discovering first-hand the number of steps and work involved in putting together a (hopefully) successful campaign has been humbling. It takes incredible effort and energy, from scripting and shooting a promo video, to writing copy, to getting names added to the pre-launch page. Launching a Kickstarter campaign, like performing magic, is not as simple as it appears.
By the time this article goes to press, I’ll be fully immersed in ‘Deck Tour’ life. Magicians and collectors are the target audience for this campaign, yet we believe many outside of those circles will be interested in the subject material and the beautiful artwork. Please contact me if you want to include the SISTERHOOD Deck on your podcast or blog! View the SISTERHOOD Kickstarter campaign here.
What’s Next for Sisterhood Playing Card Company?
As time passes and Ontario’s incredibly long Covid-19 shutdowns ease, live performances are back on the books. And I’m grateful. Creative work that also produces an income is essential when you work in the arts full-time. So far, the SISTERHOOD Deck has been a labour of love. I believe in our mission, message, and power in a deck of playing cards. Yet, there’s no way to know what the free market will say.
If all goes according to plan, this initial deck will be the first of many. I’m already dreaming of all the NEW mistakes I can make next time. LOL! I’m also thinking of all the time and energy saved when producing future decks, thanks to the numerous hard lessons learned this time.
As a company, we look forward to bringing impactful, educational, and inspirational messages to life using playing cards as vehicles to communicate essential truths with people around the world. For now, all my focus is on the Deck Tour.
I owe many thanks to the intelligent and candid women featured in the Real Deal column. They’ve graciously offered great advice, tricks, and tips for creating and launching a deck of playing cards. Likewise, without my trusted advisors, Kevin Yu of Riffle Shuffle and El Presidente Lee Asher, this project would not exist without them. Thank you.