Bicycle Playing Cards
Bicycle Playing Cards are a popular brand of standard playing cards. Since 1885, the Bicycle brand has been manufactured by the United States Printing Company, which, in 1894, became the United States Playing Card Company of Cincinnati. "Bicycle" is a trademark of that company. They are popular with magicians and other card enthusiasts.
Bicycle is a standard issue deck of cards consisting of 52 red and black colored cards. Each card may have one of the four suits: spades, clubs (sometimes called "clovers"), diamonds, and hearts. The numbers on the cards range from 2 to 10, then proceed onward to "Jack", then "Queen", "King", and "Ace". The "Ace" has also been known to be the first card in a typical deck. The bicycle trademark is usually printed on the Ace of spades. The deck comes with the hand ranks of poker, an information card, and two jokers.
Bicycle playing cards are sold in a variety of designs. There are a series of Vintage backs, bridge, pinochle, Pastel color cards (which are colors light blue, lime green, and pink) and Lo Vision cards that are designed for the visually impaired. These Lo Vision cards contain large numbers on the face in a light blue color. Other types of cards with varying backs and colors are produced for magic.
Significance in American wars
World War II
During World War II cards were produced that, when submerged in water, could be peeled apart and both halves had a map on the inside. When all the cards were put together it made a large map. These were supplied to POWs so if they escaped they would have a map.
The company provided crates of Ace of Spades cards for U.S. soldiers in the Vietnam War. It was erroneously believed that the Viet Cong believed the card to be a symbol of death and would flee at the sight of the Ace. In actuality the Ace meant nothing to the Viet Cong, however the belief did improve the U.S. soldiers' morale. Thousands of decks of these Aces were shipped to Vietnam where the Aces were purposely scattered throughout the jungle and villages during raids. Similar cards were produced during Operation Desert Shield in 1991, immediately prior to the invasion of Iraq by US forces. Due to the shortness of the conflict these cards never saw battle.
Bicycle playing cards are commonly used in magic (illusion) and flourishes, and are generally considered by magicians as the best playing cards for most tricks.
Bicycle playing cards are comparable to Tally-ho Playing Cards or Bee Playing Cards which are commonly used in casinos worldwide.