Bicycle 130th Anniversary Playing Cards

Jason and I are both fans of Bicycle playing cards, manufactured by the United States Playing Card Company (USPCC). I have been handling USPCC cards for an hour a day or longer for the last couple of years (while on the phone, watching TV, hanging out with friends) and I have become a card snob.

Playing cards made by USPCC use three layers of paper: two outer layers of thin paper, and a thicker stiff piece of card sandwiched in the middle. The result is a strong, springy card that feels good and has a nice snap to it. A lot of cards made by other manufacturers use just two layers or even one layer of low quality paper. They crease easily and wear down quickly and are unpleasant to use for games or magic tricks.

The Bicycle 130th Anniversary Playing Cards ($(removed) on Amazon) are made with the same 3-ply process used in all of USPCC's cards. They have the "Wheel No. 1" card back design from 1887. One interesting thing to note about this design is the three-winged symbol in the center. This makes the card asymmetrical, which is a desirable feature for card cheats and magicians. For instance, you can turn all the Aces in the deck around with one of the wings pointing straight down, and have all the other cards with two wings pointing down, making it possible to identify the Aces by spreading the deck face down. (In 1907 the three-winged symbol was replaced by a symmetrical 4-winged symbol.) Most non-magicians will not notice the asymmetry, and you can have a lot of fun with these decks. Here's a trick called Mephistopheles' Own, from Charles Jordan's Best Card Tricks.