The Urge To Collect

By Ben Harris - Tuesday, May 19, 2020

We normally discuss one of two aspects of card magic in this blog. These are the suitability of the deck at hand as a tool for either traditional Card Magic, or for its use in Cardistry. There is a third element that we should also touch on. This is the the collecting of Playing Cards. I had not intended to broach the subject this early in the series, but the opportunity to give you a “heads-up” has changed the plan.

Black Roses

The kind of card collector I’m talking about is usually a fan (and a performer) within one (or both) fields mentioned above. We collect Playing Cards for one or more of these reasons:

1. To perform.
2. Collecting art (some of today’s decks are true examples of this).
3. Investment (yes, they do appreciate in value over time).

Sometimes our most-loved decks do go out of print. Always a bummer. Knowing when they are about to become rare is really handy, no matter what you want the cards for.

One of my favourite decks, the Black Roses Casino, is on the cusp, about to become a rarity. So, opportunity arises. Grab a few decks now, if you can. The first time you see these lovely cards you know there’s a special magic going on. The elegant back design—a pair of roses reversed out of solid black, combined with WIDE white borders—is striking. Your routines will appear “dressed to the nines” with this deck. Imagine a “high-end casino.” This is the deck you’ll find on your imagined poker table. The back design’s refined artwork adds an air of elegance to Ace Routines, Travellers, Invisible Palm, and the like. Material that uses the table as the stage appears even more magical simply by expressing them with the Black Roses Casino Deck. You can also colour one or more of the roses with red marker to create some lovely (and original) romantic routines.

Decks of cards

For Cardistry, the graphic simplicity is enhanced with motion. The cards look magnificent when fanned. Classy! You’d expect to see James Bond’s hands at the business end. Any flourishes with motion look crisp and clean. Too fast though and the roses will blur, almost vanishing. Slow, easy, steady, neat, squared—let the cards shine for you.

Designed in Germany by Daniel Schneider, and produced to the highest quality by The United States Playing Card Company, this deck is a dream tool. It Faro Shuffles perfectly straight out of the box—always a good sign.

But wait, “there’s more,” he says!


Another gem is hidden in this deck! The King of Diamonds is a Madison King. This extra card depicts the King holding a back out Black Roses Casino card in one hand (in a Magician’s Palm), and a Nine of Clubs in the other hand (in a Gambler’s Cop). You can create some clever little routines if you put your mind to it.

The Black Roses Casino deck is a limited release of 1000, never to be reprinted. The manufacturer has put up the sold-out sign. Wholesalers I checked with a couple of weeks ago all had less than a dozen decks in stock.

Decks of cards

By pouncing on a deck or two today (I’d suggest three, see below) you’ll have a neat little investment. Decks like these limited runs are selling for four and five times the original ticket price in as little as two years after sell-out. Have a browse around the card-seller markets online, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how Playing Cards can, and do, appreciate in value. (Zack Mueller’s early Fontaine branded decks sell for hundreds of dollars each!).

This is why I suggested hunting out three decks; two for your collection and one to perform with. The “buy in threes” rule is a good way to gradually build a collection of cards to use, and decks to add to a collection. (Treat yourself to three decks a month and in a year your private collection will be well on its way).

One additional note about the limited edition Black Roses Casino cards: Most of the decks come with a bright red seal. This is sequentially numbered so you know exactly which decks out of the print run of 1000 you have. However, only 909 received the numbered seal. The balance did not due to the complexities of the USPCC’s quality control systems. Thus, 91 decks have no numbered seals. Strangely, this makes them even more collectable.

Other decks, approaching the “cusp,” include some of the cards in the lovely Ace Fulton’s Casino series from The D&D Playing Card Company. Be quick. Grab some of the lovely Femme Fatale decks from this range while you can. Shop Vanishing Inc. Cards and see if you can find some other decks on the “cusp.”

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