Cartamundi and USPCC
There are two major players in the Western playing card manufacturing word: Cartamundi and USPCC (United States Playing Card Company). But did you know that Cartamundi is actually a parent company that owns many brands, including USPCC?
Cartamundi is actually a group of companies with a headquarters in Turnhout, Belgium. They don't just manufacture playing cards; in fact that's just a small part of their business. They also manufacture puzzles, games (such as Uno), Tarot Cards, Magic The Gathering Cards, board games, packaging and much more.
The company was founded in 1970 when three printing companies (Biermans, Brepols, and Van Genechten) on the same town created a joint venture. By joining forces, they were able to create rapid growth. What started as a small operation in an area of Belgium known as the "printing valley" is now a worldwide operation with eleven factories around the world (including Brazil, Japan, the UK, France, Spain and more).
The manufacturing processes at Cartamundi is breathtaking. When the Vanishing Inc. team visited their factory in Belgium to see how playing cards are made, we saw the entire operation: from small run machines with manual processes, to massive machines that are able to print, cut, and box thousands of decks of cards an hour. But that's just one factory of many!
Cartamundi now owns many other card brands including Copag in Brazil, Fournier in Spain, and most recently, the United States Playing Card Company in the USA.
United States Playing Cards Company
The United States Playing Card Company (USPCC as it is known by magicians) is an America-based producer of playing cards. It's original name was Russell, Morgan and Co and it was founded in 1867 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The factory and offices have since moved from Ohio, across the river to Kentucky. They employee over 350 people in their offices and in their playing card printing factory.
USPCC own the rights to many card brands such as Bicycle decks (perhaps the most famous playing card brand in the world), Aladdin, Aristocrat, Bee playing cards, Squeezers cards, Tally-Ho cards and more. And just like Cartamundi and their other brands, their cards aren't just used by magicians. Instead, they print for games, cardists, collectors, and most of all casinos. Each casino (especially in Las Vegas) has their own custom branded deck of cards and while magic companies might print a few thousand decks a year, a casino will likely print hundreds of thousands of decks of cards. They also manufacture other casino products such as dice.
In December 2019, Cartamundi announced that they had purchased the Unites States Playing Cards Company. Stefaan Merckx, CEO of Cartamundi announced that “The addition of USPC immediately allows us to take advantage of growing playing card sales in the U.S. USPC’s leading position in Spain is highly complementary with Cartamundi’s European footprint and fits perfectly in our plans for strategic growth.”
To celebrate the purchase, Cartamundi threw a party for the high-fliers of the playing card world in New York in February 2020. Over 100 playing card experts gathered in a tiny bar in Hell's Kitchen to celebrate the purchase. The building was packed with playing card manufacturers, industry experts, designers, and high-selling playing card retailers for a free bar, and plenty of playing card talk.
There was even a deck of cards launched especially for the occasion, available in a gift pack only to those there. It may well be the rarest deck of cards in magic. The Vanishing Inc. playing card team, of course, were there and took a few photos. They even managed to sneak out the largest deck of Bicycle cards known to man.
Other Cartamundi brands
United States Playing Cards Company is just one sub brand of Cartamundi. With a decade of aggressive business-acquisition, the company now own and operate dozens of playing card brands such as Copag, Shuffle, Joker, Grimaud, Royal Flush, Ace, ASS Altenburger, USPCC and many more.