Category: Uncategorized


 Owner and Sales Trainer/Coach for The Magic of Selling, LLC

The Magic of Selling Sales Training and Coaching

Are You:

  • 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:

  • More Appointments
  • Being Better Prepared
  • Taking Stronger Meetings
  • Closing More Deals
  • Better Closing Ratio
  • More Referrals
  • Warmer Leads
  • More Revenue

You can contact me, Daniel Hollis, for a free consultation on your business and how we could game plan for success.

Set up a meeting here: Select a Date & Time – Calendly

Please Help Me Help You, today!!

-Best Regards,

Dan Hollis | Founder, Sales Trainer & Coach Website:  Email: 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.

-Best Regards,

Daniel Hollis – Owner and Sales Trainer/Coach for The Magic of Selling, LLC.



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!

Vintage Playing Cards

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.

Modern Playing Cards


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.

Dan and Dave Buck


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”.

Gentleman Playing Cards


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”.

Solitaire Game

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 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.”


Linktree link  


Mighty Networks 



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.



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@

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.

If you have a moment, please add your name to the
‘Notify Me on Launch’ list at this link. 

We are Sisterhood Playing Cards, and we are the Real Deal.




A Unique Find

Around 2005, I started going to casinos around Indiana. While there, I would buy a deck or two from the gift shops and use them for poker, blackjack, etc.

In 2008, I started a family and friends poker club. I would always try to come up with something different and fun for everyone. Anything from pregame music, blackjack, let it ride, even a “grab bag” where I would put extra chips in a bag and let everyone take turns for extra chips. Then one day in early 2011, I decided to try to find an “old deck” of cards to use in an upcoming game.

I went on eBay and found a deck by B. P. Grimaud. When I got the deck, I opened it and was amazed that a 100+-year-old deck was in mint condition and it appeared to have never been used! Even the gold edges were 100% intact! I knew I couldn’t use these in a game so I went back to eBay and I found an interesting but well-used deck of Congress playing cards. I had never heard of that brand before, and the cards had an image of the Statue of Liberty surrounded by flags from several nations, including the US. Later I learned this deck had a name, “Liberty”, and dated from 1917. We used this deck a few times.

My dad, Dave (who is the authority on National Card Company and antique card historian in his own right) thought there could be something to these old decks. He started buying a few older decks here and there, at the same time I was slowly collecting them as well. I discovered Facebook groups for collectors sometime in 2016.

52 Plus Joker

I discovered 52 Plus Joker one day in 2017 and decided to join, after my fiancée encouraged me to do so. She thought it would help me meet other collectors and help build my collection. Little did we know what was to come.

Dad and I went to our first club convention, held in Erlanger, KY that same year, albeit just for the day on Saturday, the final day of that convention. We met a few new friends there and bought some nice antique decks. Dad signed up for the club that day and our journey officially began.

Unlocking A Cool Nickname

At the convention in Cleveland in 2018, I had pretty much narrowed my focus to only collecting Congress decks. The artwork featured on these decks were taken from popular artwork of the day. I still collected other antique decks as well, but during this convention I wanted to buy whatever congress decks I could get my hands on. It was during this time I got my first “lacquer back” deck, dated 1885. Lacquer backs are pre-1900 decks with gold or copper colored ink for the image and solid color backs. Very desirable decks and very hard to come by.

During the auction, I had already won a few congress decks and ephemera, and while I was bidding on yet another Congress deck, I heard a woman in the audience whisper “that’s the congress guy”, presumably to the person next to her. To this day, I have no idea who this woman is. I thought to myself “that’s a cool nickname”, and went about my business.

I was already on Instagram for a short time with no real direction on how to stand out. I thought back to the nickname I heard during that auction and it just clicked. That’s how I’m going to make my mark. I changed my Instagram handle and created a Facebook page with the same name. As of today I have over 400 followers on Facebook, over 1,100 on Instagram, and I even have a YouTube channel with over 150 subscribers.


Kevan Seaney

“The Congress Guy” 52 Plus Joker Member and Collector of Congress 606 Playing Cards




The Forgotten History 

Forgotten people have interested me for many years. Looking back I realized it all started in 1968. That was when my Uncle Earl handed me a single sheet of paper with a hand-drawn family tree on it. At that time I didn’t even know who my great-grandparents were. Or even know anything about my family history. As my uncle slowly turned over the role of family historian to me, that tree grew into thousands of forgotten people and their stories. Without having that curiosity about my past, and learning how to research the information these stories would be lost forever.

This research experience came into play when my son, The Congress Guy, asked me to help find the location of the National Playing Card factory in Indianapolis where we live. So, using the address stated in the Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards I started the search using my genealogy skills. As it turned out the address listed was incorrect. After finding the correct location, I realized I had even passed by the old factory during my lifetime quite a few times. Unfortunately, it’s now gone and has been replaced with an apartment complex.

It was then that I went with my son to our first 52+Joker Convention to pass along my discovery to other playing card enthusiasts. At that 2017 convention in Erlanger, I became hooked on playing cards and joined.



But, it was the history that has come to fascinate me. Who were these people that made these interesting items? What was the story behind them and their cards?

My research ended up with me writing stories about these people for the 52+Joker club magazine and then creating websites to share the information with others.



Dave Seaney

Playing Cardiologist

Forgotten People of Playing Cards

Our Congress 606 website




Shuffled Ink had the pleasure of interviewing John August to help encourage others who are thinking about starting a Kickstarter. There are many aspiring entrepreneurs who are thinking of crowdfunding their projects but may feel they lack certain resources. This blog is the perfect article to help those individuals gain more perspective on how to properly prepare themselves for a very intimidating platform. Keep reading to find out how John August was able to launch his own successful Kickstarter.


1. Tell us about yourself and how you arrived at where you are today.

I’m a screenwriter and novelist. I’m lucky to have had twelve movies produced, from GO to BIG FISH to ALADDIN, along with three novels (the ARLO FINCH trilogy). I also host a popular weekly podcast about film and television called Scriptnotes.

On the side, I run a small company that makes software and other things for writers, including the screenwriting app Highland and Writer Emergency Pack.


2. What inspired you to take action on creating the Writer Emergency Pack XL?



We launched the original Writer Emergency Pack in 2014. It became a phenomenon, one of the bigger Kickstarter projects of its time. In the years since we’ve shipped nearly 100,000 decks around the world. 


As much as we love the original, we felt there were aspects we could improve upon. With a bigger card we could consolidate text that was split among multiple cards. That gave us room to double our illustrations and tips. 


We also took a serious look at our box. The original Writer Emergency Pack comes in a standard tuck box, which can wear out from heavy use. Our new two-part box is made of heavy chipboard, designed to last for years. 


Ryan Nelson designed the original Writer Emergency Pack, drawing inspiration from typography. Dustin Bocks refined the design for Writer Emergency Pack XL, bringing in our space theme.


3. Why did you choose & trust Kickstarter as a good platform? Why did you think it would be the right fit?


We had a great experience with our initial foray in Kickstarter back in 2014, but a lot has changed since then. We did our research and considered alternatives, including just launching XL on our own store. 

What brought us back to Kickstarter was the chance to repeat our “get one, give one” campaign. For every deck we send to backers, we’ll be sending one to classrooms. Launching on Kickstarter allows us to scale up to a place where that’s affordable


4. Did you run into any problems that made you question whether to keep pursuing this card deck? 



We printed early prototypes of Writer Emergency Pack XL back in 2018. We knew we had the right basic idea, but as a company we got busy with other things. 

The pandemic got us thinking more about our supply chain and the environmental costs of worldwide shipping. We were already printing in the US, but we researched better packaging and processes to minimize our carbon footprint. We committed to using certified and recycled paper for everything we can.

We ultimately made the tough decision to launch Writer Emergency Pack XL exclusively for the US and Canada. We’ll be shipping directly from the printing facility in Florida.


5. What are your thoughts on the outcome of not only reaching your goal, but passing it?



We’re really happy how the campaign turned out. We set our goal at $10,000, and achieved that the first day. Our final tally of $121,000 is just about what we expected.

Most importantly, we’re excited that this means we’ll be able to get Writer Emergency Packs into even more classrooms through our “get one, give one” model, and help inspire the next generation of creative writers. We are particularly excited because we think the larger pack will be even more accessible to younger writers. 


6. What are your tips for setting a goal right for you?



Do your research and ask hard questions. We wanted to push ourselves with our goal but also make sure we were staying realistic. Our first campaign exceeded all of our expectations, but we knew we couldn’t expect the same performance. In the years since our initial launch, the landscape of Kickstarter campaigns has changed. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t create a goal modeled off the metrics of our first campaign, but instead we chose a goal that would meet our needs in the current moment in order to make this new pack feasible. We spoke with other creators, got quotes from printing facilities, and mapped out all of our costs before we set a target. 


7. How has being a professional writer benefited your campaign?



I wrote weekly blog posts and updates on Kickstarter to let our backers know how we were doing. I’ve had a blog for decades so it’s normal for me to write to a large group of people on the internet. I think because we were communicating regularly with our supporters we were able to reach our stretch mode, like offering a dark mode version of the pack.   

And in terms of our product, as a writer I can speak directly to the problems we’re solving with our packs. I’ve written a trilogy of novels and countless screenplays, but even I sometimes get stuck. I wish I had something like this growing up, but learning these lessons on my own allowed me to translate my writing experience into the prompts for these cards. The motivating principle behind this deck is to rescue writers from that feeling by giving them tools to approach their story problems.


8.What are some tips to share with aspiring entrepreneurs thinking about using Kickstarter?

One of the biggest draws to working with Kickstarter is the community. I’d recommend folks interested in launching their own Kickstarters, to first research, study, and support other campaigns. I became friends with Elan Lee through Kickstarter and have learned so much through watching his campaigns take off on the platform. We got great practical tips from other creators, like Aaron Reed who launched 50 Years of Text Games. Learning from other entrepreneurs helped us prepare for the launch but also set us up for success when it came time to actually make our product. 

Also, your backers are a huge part of your community and your success depends on their support. My advice is to stay engaged and authentic with them. They’ll appreciate honesty over plans you’re unable to deliver.


9. What is the most effective way to get a Kickstarter out to the public? What networking efforts helped you promote the campaign?

Our company makes a lot of products aimed at helping writers. Luckily we had a loyal base of customers who championed the new XL version of the pack. 

We’re also lucky that the original Writer Emergency Pack was beloved by schools and writing organizations. Through our get one, give one, model we’ve become a fixture in many classrooms and creative writing workshops so word of mouth also helped promote our campaign. 


10. What is the most challenging growth phase for you?

After we came up with the idea for the Writer Emergency Pack XL, our team brainstormed ways to improve the original pack. We wanted to add more cards, tools, illustrations, basically more fun to the original. Once we had mock-ups of our designs it was challenging to figure out (and wait until) the best moment to launch because we were eager to bring our packs to the public ASAP. But I’m glad we waited because we found great partnerships in the US and had more time to create the perfect box for our new deck.


11. How has working with Shuffled Ink helped throughout the Kickstarter campaign process?

Shuffled Ink has produced our standard Writer Emergency Packs for the past few years, so we felt confident they could do this bigger deck. We’ve enjoyed the process of working with Matt and his team to figure out what’s possible, from sizes to finishes to little esoteric details. For example, we want to avoid any plastic while still protecting the decks during shipping. We’ve come up with some good solutions together.


We thank John August for taking the time to share his personal experience with Kickstarter along with his amazing tips on how to properly prepare for a successful launch.  Hopefully this article has helped share some insight and give readers the motivation they need to take action on their next project with Kickstarter!


Important Tips For The Readers To Consider When Launching A Kickstarter:

  1. Are you setting a realistic goal?
  2. When do you feel is the right time to launch your Kickstarter? 
  3. Do you plan on networking with others who use the platform?
  4. Will you promote your campaign? Will you keep your audience updated? Do you know what socials will work best for promoting your product on Kickstarter? 






Shuffled Ink had the pleasure of interviewing Holly Holton for the story behind The Decision Umbrella Deck. The Decision Umbrella Deck contains “52 Powerful Possibility Practices to help you create a life that lights you up!” The deck was created to help improve people’s decision-making process while assisting them on a journey of self-discovery. “The concept behind the title is that all change starts with a decision. Not a try. Not a hope. Not a wish. A decision.





It all started with an Instagram account called @thedecisionumbrella! Holly shared that she always loved personal development and created the Instagram account as a way to organize her thoughts. She began brainstorming ways to bring her idea to the next level, something that you can physically hold. That’s when she got the idea to create her own card deck, “Something that was portable and could go anywhere.”





Inspired by her dream to be a published author, Holly partnered with an artist to create a one-of-a-kind card deck with calming colors. “When I present this card deck to my customers I always feel extremely hopeful for the future. These cards contain complex issues such as mindset shifts, brain science concepts, and subconscious programming. And I feel very proud that through this deck, I have been able to explain these powerful concepts in an easy-to-understand, bite-sized approach.” We are happy to hear about her positive feedback as she stated, “people have said that they appreciate the ‘travel size’ wisdom and that they are extremely motivational and inspirational.” She discussed that “self-discovery” and “a passion to share her knowledge” are what kept her motivated to bring this project to life. The advice she would like to pass down to newbie creators is “Settle on the size of your cards before you finalize your artwork/content! I changed my cards to the 4 x 6 size late in the process because I decided I had more to add!”



Holly’s major goal is to finish her book! She is excited to expand on the ideas in the deck and further share her creativity and insights with the world! Holly hints at another deck that may be in the works. Right now she is offering FREE shipping anywhere in the US through the end of 2022. Enter code SHUFFLEDINK at checkout. The decks are available for purchase online here.



We asked Holly about her experience working with Shuffled ink and here is what she had to say: 

“From day one they have been fantastic to work with. I got personalized attention, they always answer the phone which is amazing. I feel like I was important and the company truly cared about me and my project. Just a truly remarkable experience all around and I cannot recommend Shuffled Ink highly enough! The quality of the paper is phenomenal. They are sturdy enough to be shuffled, but not too thick. Really nice matte finish and just really well done.”


Because we are all familiar with the modern deck of playing cards, a standard deck of Bicycle rider back playing cards seems very “normal” and “traditional” to most of us. But to people of the past, a deck like this is anything but normal! The reality is that playing cards have undergone a radical transformation since their first beginnings several centuries ago. Our modern playing cards evolved into a deck of 52 cards with four suits in red and black and with two Jokers by making a journey that took hundreds of years and involved travelling through many countries. In fact, the most significant elements that shaped today’s deck were produced by the different cultures and countries that playing cards traveled through in order to get to the present day.

In this article, we will survey of the history of playing cards, emphasizing in particular the geographic influences that have determined what modern playing cards look like today. Our whirlwind historical tour will begin in the East, under a cloud of uncertainty about the precise origin of playing cards. But from there we will make our way to Europe, first to Italy and Spain, then east to Germany, back west to France, and across the channel to England. Finally, we will travel over the ocean to the United States, which is where most of our decks are produced today by USPCC in the form that we know them.


External image


The East

The precise origin of playing cards continues to be the subject of debate among scholars, and even the best theories rely more on speculation than proof. There is clear historical evidence that playing cards began to appear in Europe in the late 1300s and early 1400s, but how did they get there? They seem to have come from somewhere in the East, and may have been imported to Europe by gypsies, crusaders, or traders. The common consensus appears to be that an early form of playing cards originated somewhere in Asia, but to be completely honest, we cannot be entirely sure. Paper is fragile and typically does not survive well across the ages, so solid historical evidence is lacking.

Educated guesses have made links to the cards, suits, and icons of 12th century and even older cards in China, India, Korea, Persia, or Egypt, which may have been introduced to Europe by Arabs. Some scholars believe that playing cards were invented in China during the Tang dynasty around the 9th century AD. There does seem to be evidence of some kinds of games involving playing cards (and drinking!) from this time onward, including cards with icons representing coins, which also appear as icons on playing cards later in Western Europe. If correct, it would place the origins of playing cards before 1000AD, and it would see them as originating alongside or even from tile games like dominoes and mahjong. Some have suggested that the playing cards first functioned as “play money” and represented the stakes used for other gambling games, and later became part of the games themselves. Others have proposed connections between playing cards and chess or dice games, but this is again speculative. It is very possible that playing cards made their way from China to Europe via Egypt in the Mamluk period, with decks from that era having goblets (cups), gold coins, swords, and polo-sticks, which represent the main interests of the Mamluk aristocracy, and bear parallels to the four suits seen in Italian playing cards from the 14th century.

But we cannot even be totally sure that playing cards did first appear in the East; and it may even be that the first ancestors of the modern deck of playing cards were first created in Europe after all, as an independent development. So let’s head to Europe, to the earliest confirmed reference to playing cards there, which we find in a Latin manuscript written by a German monk in a Swiss monastery.


External image


Italy and Spain

In the manuscript dated 1377, our German monk friend Johannes from Switzerland mentions the appearance of playing cards and several different card games that could be played with them. In the 1400s playing cards often appear along with dice games in religious sermons as examples of gambling activities that are denounced, and there is clear evidence that a 52 card deck existed and was used in this time. The suit signs in the first European decks of the 14th century were swords, clubs, cups, and coins, and very likely had their origin in Italy, although some connect these with the cups, coins, swords, and polo-sticks found on Egyptian playing cards from the Mamluk period. At any rate these are still the four suits still found in Italian and Spanish playing cards today, and are sometimes referred to as the Latin suits.

The court cards from the late 14th century decks in Italy typically included a mounted king, a seated and crowned queen, plus a knave. The knave is a royal servant, although the character could also represent a “prince”, and would later be called a Jack to avoid confusion with the King. Spanish cards developed somewhat differently, the court cards being a king, knight, and knave, with no queens. The Spanish packs also didn’t have a 10, and with the absence of 8s and 9s in the national Spanish game of ombre, it resulted in a 40 card deck.

The first playing cards in European Italy were hand-painted and beautiful luxury items found only among the upper classes. But as card playing became more popular, and methods were developed to produce them more cheaply, playing cards became more widely available. It was only natural that this new product eventually spread west and north, and the next major development occurred as a result of their reception in Germany, and one historian has described their rapid spread as “an invasion of playing cards”, with soldiers also assisting their movement.


External image




To establish themselves as a card-manufacturing nation in their own right, the Germans introduced their own suits to replace the Italian ones, and these new suits reflected their interest in rural life: acorns, leaves, hearts, and bells; the latter being hawk-bells and a reference to the popular rural pursuit of falconry. The queen was also eliminated from the Italian courts, and these instead consisted of a King and two knaves, an obermann (upper) and untermann (under). Meanwhile the Two replaced the Ace as the highest card, to create a 48 card deck.

Custom decks abounded, and suit symbols used in the novelty playing cards from this era include animals, kitchen utensils, and appliances, from frying pans to printers’ inkpads! The standard German suits of acorns, leaves, hearts, and bells were predominant, however, although in nearby Switzerland it was common to see a variation using flowers instead of leaves, and shields instead of hearts. The Germanic suits are still used in parts of Europe today, and are indebted to this period of history.

But the real contribution of Germany was their methods of printing playing cards. Using techniques of wood-cutting and engraving in wood and copper that were developed as a result of the demand for holy pictures and icons, printers were able to produce playing cards in larger quantities. This led to Germany gaining a dominant role in the playing card trade, even exporting decks to Western Europe, which had produced them in the first place! Eventually the new suit symbols adopted by Germany became even more common throughout Europe than the original Italian ones.

External image




Meanwhile early in the 15th century, the French developed the icons for the four suits that we commonly use today, namely hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs, although they were called coeurs, piques, carreaux, and trefles respectively. It is possible that the clubs (trefles) derive from the acorns and the spades (pikes) from the leaves of the German playing cards, but they may also have been developed independently. The French also preferred a king, queen, and knave as their court cards.

But the real stroke of genius that the French came up with was to divide the four suits into two red and two black, with simplified and clearer symbols. This meant that playing cards could be produced with stencils, a hundred times more quickly than using the traditional techniques of wood-cutting and engraving. With improved processes in manufacturing paper, and the development of better printing processes, including Gutenberg’s printing press (1440), the slower and more costly traditional woodcut techniques previously done by hand were replaced with a much more efficient production. For sheer practical reasons, the Germans lost their earlier dominance in the playing card market, as the French decks and their suits spread all over Europe, giving us the designs as we know them today.

One interesting feature of the French dominance of playing cards in this time is the attention given to court cards. In the late 1500s French manufacturers began giving the court cards names from famous literary epics such as the Bible and other classics. It is from this era that the custom developed of associating specific court cards with famous names, the more well-known and commonly accepted ones for the Kings being King David (Spades), Alexander the Great (Clubs), Charlemagne (Hearts), and Julius Caesar (Diamonds), representing the four empires of Jews, Greeks, Franks, and Romans. Notable characters ascribed to the Queens include the Greek goddess Pallas Athena (Spades), Judith (Hearts), Jacob’s wife Rachel (Diamonds), and Argine (Clubs). The Knaves were commonly designated as La Hire (Hearts), Charlemagne’s knight Ogier (Spades), Hector the hero of Troy (Diamonds), and King Arthur’s knight Lancelot (Clubs).

The common postures, clothing, and accessories that we expect in a modern deck of playing cards today find their roots in characters like these, but we cannot be certain how these details originated, since there was much diversity of clothing, weapons, and accessories depicted in the French decks of this time. But eventually standardization began to happen, and this was accelerated in the 1700s when taxing on playing cards was introduced. With France divided into nine regions for this purpose, manufacturers within each region were ordered to use a standardized design unique to their region. But it was only when playing cards emigrated to England that a common design really began to dominate the playing card industry.


External image



Our journey across the channel actually begins in Belgium, from where massive quantities of cards began to be exported to England, although soldiers from France may also have helped introduce playing cards to England. Due to heavy taxes in France, some influential card makers emigrated to Belgium, and several card factories and workshops began to appear there. Rouen in particular was an important center of the printing trade. Thousands of decks of Belgian made playing cards were exported to countries throughout Europe, including England. In view of this, it is no surprise that English card players have virtually always been using the French designs.

But playing cards did not pass through Europe without the English leaving their stamp on them. To begin with, they opted to use the names hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs to refer to the suits that the French had designated as coeurs, piques, carreaux, and trefles. We do not know why, but they based two of the suit names (spades and clubs) on the names of the Italian deck rather than directly translate the French terms piques (pikes) and trefles (clovers); one possible explanation is the Spanish suits were exported to England before French ones. The word diamond is also somewhat unexpected, given that the English word for carreau (wax-painted tiles used in churches) at the time was lozenge. Whatever the reasons, it is to usage in England that we owe the names that we use for the suits today.

It is also to the English that we owe the place of honour given to the Ace of Spades, which has its roots in taxation laws. The English government passed an Act that cards could not leave the factory until they had proof that the required tax on playing cards had been paid. This initially involved hand stamping the Ace of Spades – probably because it was the top card. But to prevent tax evasion, in 1828 it was decided that from now on the Ace of Spades had to be purchased from the Commissioners for Stamp Duties, and that it had to be specially printed along with the manufacturer’s name and the amount of duty paid. As a result, the Ace of Spades tended to have elaborate designs along with the manufacturer’s name. Only in 1862 were approved manufacturers finally allowed to print their own Ace of Spades, but the fate of the signature Ace of Spades had been decided, and the practice of an ornate Ace with the manufacturer’s name was often continued. As a result, to this day it is the one card in a deck that typically gets special treatment and elaborate designs.

The artwork on English court cards appears to have been largely influenced by designs produced in Rouen, Belgium, which produced large amounts of playing cards for export. They include details such as kings with crowns, flowing robes, beards, and longish hair; queens holding flowers and sceptres; and knaves that are clean-shaven, wearing caps, and holding arrows, feathers or pikes. But whatever variety was present, slowly disappeared as a result of the industrious efforts of Briton Thomas de la Rue, who was able to reduce the prices of playing cards due to increased output and productivity. This mass production he accomplished in the 1860s gave him a position of dominance in the industry, and the smaller manufacturers with their independent designs eventually were swallowed up, leading to the more standardized designs as we know them today. De la Rue’s designs were first modernized by Reynolds in 1840, and then again by Charles Goodall in 1860, and it is this design that effectively still used today. It was also around this time that double-ended court cards became common (to avoid the need to turn the cards, thereby revealing to your opponent that you had court cards in your hand) and the existing full-length designs were adapted to make them double-ended.


External image


United States

The Americans are late companions to our historical journey, because for a long time they simply relied on imports from England to meet the demand for playing cards. Due to the general public’s preference for goods of English origin, some American makers even printed the word “London” on their Ace of Spades, to ensure commercial success! From the earliest days of colonization there are even examples of native Americans making their own decks with original suit symbols and designs, evidently having learned card games from the new inhabitants.

Among American manufacturers, a leading name from the early 1800s is Lewis I. Cohen, who even spent four years in England, and began publishing playing cards in 1832. In 1835 he invented a machine for printing all four colours of the card faces at once, and his successful business eventually became a public company in 1871, under the name the New York Consolidated Card Company. This company was responsible for introducing and popularizing corner indices to the English pack, to make it easier for players to hold and recognize a poker hand by only fanning the cards slightly. Another printing company had already printed decks with indices in 1864 (Saladee’s Patent, printed by Samuel Hart), but it was the Consolidated Card Company that patented this design in 1875. First known as “squeezers”, decks with these indices were not immediately well received. A competing firm, Andrew Dougherty and Company initially began producing “triplicates”, offering an alternative that used miniature card faces on the opposite corners of the cards. But new territory had been won, and indices eventually became standard, and today it is hard to imagine playing cards without them.

One final innovation that we owe to the United States is the addition of the Jokers. The Joker was initially referred to as “the best bower”, which is terminology that originates in the popular trick-taking game of euchre, which was popular in the mid-19th century, and refers to the highest trump card. It is an innovation from around 1860 that designated a trump card that beat both the otherwise highest ranking right bower and left bower. The word euchre may even be an early ancestor of the word “Joker”. A variation of poker around 1875 is the first recorded instance of the Joker being used as a wild card.

Besides these changes, America has not contributed any permanent changes to the standard deck of cards, which by this time already enjoyed a long and storied history, and had become more and more standardized. However the United States has become important in producing playing cards. Besides the above mentioned companies, other well-known names of printers from the late 19th century include Samuel Hart and Co, and Russell and Morgan, the latter eventually becoming today’s industry giant: the United States Playing Card Company. American manufacturers have been printing special purpose packs and highly customized decks of playing cards throughout their history, but the USPCC’s Bicycle, Bee, and Tally Ho brands have become playing card icons of their own. The USPCC has absorbed many other playing card producers over more than a century of dominance, and they are considered an industry leader and printer of choice for many custom decks produced today.


External image


The true history of playing cards is a long and fascinating journey, one that has been enmeshed with many romantic interpretations over time, not all of which have a historical basis. What will the future hold for the fate of the humble playing card, and what will be the lasting contribution of our own era be to the shape and content of a “standard” deck? Only time will tell, but meanwhile you can enjoy a modern deck today, knowing that it has striking similarities with the playing cards of 15th century Europe, and that playing cards have been an integral part of life and leisure across the globe for more than 600 years!


Where to get them: Do you want to pick up some historic looking cards? Start by looking at this contemporary 40 card Spanish deck. Some wonderful and accurate replicas of American decks from the late 19th century have been produced by Home Run Games with USPCC quality cards, and are all available here, including these: Hart’s Saladee’s Patent (1864), Triplicate No. 18 (1876), Mauger Centennial (1876), Murphy Varnish (1883), Tally Ho No 9 (1885). Alternatively, check out the entire range of vintage playing cards.

External image


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 here.

Survive Now, Cry Later: Christopher Chartier Card’s Story

Survive Now, Cry Later: Christopher Chartier Card’s Story

Shuffled Ink had the pleasure of interviewing Christopher Chartier to discuss the details behind the creation of “Survive” the card game. A four-year-long team project that “started on cut up pieces of note cards, laminated, and then colored with crayon.” The creators of “Survive” wanted to separate themselves from the mainstream design of card games. They worked with an artist to create multiple variations of card boxes that would stand out from the rest for customers to choose from.


Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

When asked if there were any issues they faced during the creation of the “Survive”, Christopher responded, “The hardest part is growing a following. The constant questioning of “did I do enough, am I doing the right things, and are we headed in the right direction”. A common feeling many creators struggle with when releasing their product to the public for the first time. Christopher’s advice for seasoned and newbie card designers is, “Post post post. Get in front of the camera. Develop a posting schedule. Learning from my mistakes.”


Working With Shuffled Ink

When asked why he chose to work with Shuffled Ink, he explained “I chose Shuffled Ink because I wanted to manufacture in the US, not overseas. After narrowing that process down, Lisa was the first to respond. She took the time to go over the process of everything and represented the company really well, and actually seemed interested in our product.” Christopher continues, “You can instantly see how dedicated Shuffled Ink is to delivering the best product possible. We have been so delighted and beyond pleased with how good the quality is when it arrives. The tuck boxes are excellent quality and very durable and the cards have that professional feel you are looking for.”

We are so thankful to hear such kind feedback as we strive for meeting our client’s expectations and want to make sure they feel taken care of every step of the way! If you are looking to create a custom card game click here to get started.

If you are interested in purchasing the “Survive” card game, Visit their website here. They have early bird specials available for a limited time! They also launched a Kickstarter which is currently live and can be viewed here.