Growing up, I used to fill my shelves with things I collected in my travels. As my radius of movement was only about 5 miles, what I amassed was pretty lame. Nowadays, thanks to Internet retail, I never have to leave my home and every day is like Christmas.
You may not realize it, but we're living during the collectable playing card revolution. 10 years ago, I wouldn't have thought about being on a mailing list for collector's decks, but that all changed when I discovered the green Monarchs from Theory11.
It's pretty fancy, and it'd better be. It has to live up to the claim of being "The deck that's fit for a King". The box features gold foil on an embossed, durable card stock (gathered from sustainable forests), and feels very substantial.
The design is uncluttered, with striking intertwining serpents.
I'm just fascinated with their foil-stamping dies—and envious of the designer's ability to make something so balanced, intricate and beautiful.
When you open the box, the first thing you'll see is the Latin phrase – Cerca Trova – Seek and you shall find.
It's the same messaging that's found in their Contraband deck, but don't hold it against them. I think it's good that these decks nod to each other, because they feel almost as if they're distant cousins.
If you look closely on the backs of the cards you'll see another Latin phrase – Esto perpetue – let it be eternal. The phrase can be traced back to a man named Paolo Sarpi, who used it as his dying declaration in 1623. He was a Venetian philosopher who cared about the independent Venetian Republic above all else.
Here's a rare portrait of Paolo Sarpi posing with a couple of cards from his Monarch deck. They really give him an air of regality, don't they?
You wouldn't know it by looking at him, but Mr. Sarpi is a bit of a badass. Years before his death, for religious reasons, assassins stabbed him 15 times and left him for dead. He lived on to be a champion for the Republic, which makes his dying words all the more powerful.
And wait until you get a load of this! The Great Seal of The State of Idaho shares Paolo's dying phrase as well!
If "Esto Perpetua" was good enough for Paolo and the Great State of Idaho, it has to be good enough for the Monarchs.
The decks were designed by an artist named Curtis Jenkins. He runs a "One Stop Shop" design studio called The Neighborhood Studio and his website is fun to poke around in.
He won't tell you himself, but the Monarchs were featured in the movie Now You See Me – which is pretty darned badass!
The day that Morgan Freeman holds anything I've designed is the day that I drop the mic and walk away into the sunset. Where do you go from there?
I guess you could go and make your awesome deck in newer and bolder colors.
Here's the design for their new red Monarchs deck.
And wait—there's more! The red and blue versions have gold foil just like the green ones, and the white decks have silver or gold.
The face-cards in each deck seem to have much richer color schemes than others I've seen and while the number cards seem pretty standard, it doesn't bother me.
As a package, they're all pretty spectacular.
I especially love the design of the Ace of Spades. Again, it's the same feel for each color but I think it looks extra-classy with the green boxes.
If you like to manipulate cards or you're a collector, this seems like a no brainer to me. What other deck offers penny farthing bicycle Jokers for just $7.95 a pop?
Take a minute and check out the Theory11 website . There are so many beautiful things to see.
Even in black and white, the Monarchs are awesome!