I've been collecting playing cards since I was a kid. After amassing enough to choke Godzilla, I have a thing or two to say about the ones that stand out to me.
When I used to open a pack of cards, the first one I was drawn to was the Ace of Spades. It was always the low-hanging fruit of awesomeness in a new deck, but as time went on, my tastes changed. There’s so much more going on on the backs of playing cards, the court cards, and on the box itself.
A London based designer, Joe White, took a full year to jam as much symbolism into his Contraband deck as possible. It’s so stuffed with content that it feels like it’s a treasure map to nowhere—and I think that’s the point.
You’re supposed to create the journey yourself.
If you look closely, you’ll find skulls, pirate symbols, the eye of Horus, hanging keys, the holy grail, Eve’s apple and the gates of heaven. I thought these things were thrown in willy-nilly at first, but when I took the time to break things down, I saw a unified story.
The box is covered with delicate embossing, foil stamping and interwoven designs. An "X", which literally marks the spot in the center of the box, spawns a cacophony of imagery.
On the X itself, we have the Latin phrasing Carpe Noctem – seize the night, and Carpe Diem — seize the day. I put a lot of thought against this and here’s what I’ve come up with – There's an elite group within the deck called the court cards. Read the rest