United States Playing Card Company
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2008)|
|Industry||Playing card manufacturer|
|Headquarters||Erlanger, Kentucky, United States|
|Key people||Marc Hill (president)|
|Products||Bicycle, Bee, Aristocrat, KEM, Aviator (among others)|
|Revenue||US$130 million (2003 est.)|
The United States Playing Card Company, established in 1867, produces and distributes many brands of playing cards, including Bicycle, Bee, Hoyle, Kem, and others, plus novelty and custom cards, and other playing card accessories such as poker chips. The company was once based in Cincinnati, Ohio, but is now headquartered in Erlanger, Kentucky. It has been a subsidiary of Jarden Corporation since 2004.
The company was founded in 1867 as Russell, Morgan & Co., a printing company. They began printing playing cards, with the "Congress No. 606" line being the first, in 1881. They began printing Bicycle cards, which would become their most popular line, in 1885. The playing card business was successful enough that it was spun off as a separate business in 1894, as The United States Playing Card Company.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (September 2012)|
The company offers several card brands, including:
Introduced in 1927 in commemoration of Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis, Aviator playing cards feature a bordered, monotone back design of predominantly circles. They are comparable in quality to Bee and Bicycle cards and are available in the same general assortment of back colors, card sizes, and configurations. The card stock has a smooth finish, unlike the "air-cushion" finish used in the company's other brands.
Bee Playing Cards are a casino card brand. They were first manufactured by Consolidated-Dougherty in 1892, hence the number "92" on the Ace of Spades; the USPCC acquired the company soon after. Standard Bee playing cards have a diamond back, typically blue or red, though casinos frequently use customized Bee cards featuring a logo added to the backs. Unlike Bicycle cards, Bee cards usually have borderless backs, making the facing of any card that is even partially revealed clearly visible. However, the standard diamond back of the card is very regular and low-profile compared to other back designs, which simplifies "bottom-dealing" and other forms of sleight-of-hand.
Bicycle Playing Cards are the USPCC's original brand of 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.
The typical Bicycle deck (Poker-standard) is a standard issue deck of cards consisting of 52 traditional French design playing cards, two jokers, an information card, and a card describing poker ranks. As with most decks, the first standard card of the deck is the uniquely stylized Ace of Spades. The Bicycle trademark is usually also printed on the Ace of Spades. The type number of a Bicycle deck can be found both on the bottom of the deck box and on the stone of the Joker artwork.
Bicycle playing cards are sold in a variety of decks featuring different cards (such as for use in pinochle), back designs (including the traditional rider back and older Vintage backs), face designs (including Jumbo Index and Lo Vision cards for the visually impaired, and a "PokerPeek" design on their Pro series decks that simplifies looking at hole cards), and sizes (such as narrower bridge decks, thicker Masters Edition cards designed to last longer, and Big Bicycle cards that are four times the normal card size). Any of the aforementioned are traditionally available with red and blue backs, but other back colors (including black, silver, and even pastel colors) are also available, as well as a "Ghost" deck that is entirely black and white except for the corner pips of the diamonds and the hearts. Consumer paper versions of the plastic KEM type WSOP decks are sold under the Bicycle brand. In 2010, Bicycle Playing Cards released special 125th anniversary decks which include a redesigned rear side, redesigned Ace of Spades, and 1885-2010 written under the numbers on the corner on each card.
Bicycle playing cards are commonly used in card magic and flourishes, and are generally considered by magicians as the best playing cards for most tricks. In addition to specialty decks specifically designed for magic, cardistry or purely aesthetic reasons (third-party designs such as Ellusionist and Theory11), Bicycle also make other kinds of non-standard card decks, such as a "gaff" deck (contained in a mirrored-art box) with an assortment of unusually altered cards that can be used with regular cards for jokes.
Magicians such as Lennart Green, Ricky Jay, Daryl, David Blaine, Paul Daniels, Dynamo, Cyril Takayama, Criss Angel, and others have all used and performed effects with Bicycle Playing Cards. Bicycle cards can have an 'air cushion' finish, which improves handling.
Tally Ho cards come in standard red or blue colors, just like the Bicycle brand, but has two choices of back design known as the "fan" back or the "circle" back. Magic stores also have access to a black option, with two gaff cards in place of the typical advertising cards (one is a blank face, the other a double back). Tally Ho cards also come in pale blue or green backs, with limited availability. Due to the unique finish ("linoid"), the distinct designs and the limited availability of the cards, they are popular for card flourishes. They were a favorite of magician Dai Vernon, and are common in videos of him performing tricks. They also make an appearance in the card game scene of the movie The Sting, as the preferred deck of Doyle Lonnegan.
The first brand of cards introduced by the company in 1881, when it was still known as Russell, Morgan, and Co., Congress is currently the USPC's signature brand name for bridge cards and accessories. Congress cards come in an assortment of back designs. Each Congress deck consists of the 52 standard cards, two jokers, and an information card describing bridge scoring.
USPCC purchased KEM cards in 2004. KEM cards are made from cellulose acetate, and are able to withstand washing and still be playable. KEM cards are also available to the consumer (usually at specialty game shops) with various back colors and designs in both poker (wide) and bridge (narrow) sizes. In 2007, KEM bridge cards (using Bicycle artwork) were adopted as the official cards of the World Series of Poker.
USPCC debuted a new line of playing cards called PokerPeek at the 2007 World Series of Poker. The face of each card has the rank and suit at all four corners, at a 45° angle to the card's edges, and the size of the traditional face designs are reduced and flanked by jumbo-index ranks. The design was an attempt to make it easier for players to read their hole cards, while at the same time making it more difficult for anyone but that player to discern their hand. However, the new cards were largely pulled from play and replaced with decks having a more traditional face layout due to complaints from players about the tiny indices and confusion between the "6" and the "9". The "PokerPeek" face design was integrated into the paper Bicycle Pro series.
- "Company History". bicyclecards.com. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- "Congress No. 606". wopc.co.uk. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
- "Bicycle No. 808". wopc.co.uk. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
- History of KEM cards. from kemcards.net
- History of Bicycle cards from bicyclecardgames.com
- New card design a big deal at WSOP from Pokerlistings.com