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RARE PLAYING CARDS: A new favourite website

Boardgamers are often on a quest to find their "grail" game. Often it's something rare and out of print, and not readily available. In the world of playing cards, there are also "grail" decks, and some of them can cost enormous sums of money. I'm not exactly on a quest for playing cards that cost a fortune, but like many other gamers out there, I do love high quality game components, and so custom playing cards have a real appeal to me. Most of us have probably come across or own a standard Bicycle deck, or a cheap deck of cards from a local department store. But we can do better than that, surely! We live in an age where a Kickstarter fuelled market has injected all kinds of quality playing cards from creative and innovative designers into the industry, and spectacular new decks of playing cards are appearing all the time. But how do you find them, and from where do you get them?

Welcome to I think this has to be one of my new favourite web-sites! When I stumbled across it for the first time, I could hardly believe the enormous and amazing repository of playing cards available for purchase there! Their online catalogue lists more than 300 different decks of cards! All with image galleries so you can see exactly what you're getting. There are some stunning, stunning decks here! I was hooked.


So what's all this about? RarePlayingCards is run by owner and founder Matthew Preuss, whose vision was to set up a business that would provide customers with a massive selection of all the best playing cards available today, and make them available for one-stop shopping. In his words, the site was formed "to help magicians, collectors, cardists, and poker players find and purchase some of the most sought after playing cards from one trusted place. All of our decks are stored in a climate-controlled warehouse to ensure that they remain in top condition." A climate-controlled warehouse for storing playing cards? This is serious business! For sure - orders are shipped worldwide within 24 hours of being placed, and tracking information is provided. Now that's professional!

But there's more. RarePlayingCards doesn't just sell any old playing cards. They only want to sell the best. In other words: high quality designer decks, whether from well-known publishers and brands, or from obscure designers. You'll find them all here - hence the "Rare" in Rare Playing Cards! There are indeed some rare and otherwise hard to find playing cards available from them.

When I think of "Rare", I usually think of something not often found. And while the word can refer to old things, it is primarily about scarcity. Something rare is something that doesn't occur very often and is not found in large numbers. You'll find lots of cheap decks of cards, and even lots of standard Bicycle and Bee decks, but what about rarities that are far more special and stunning? These are the kinds of playing cards that will knock your socks off, and they are the kinds that RarePlayingCards sells.

In this review, I want to take a journey with you, my readers, to check out the beauty of some of these playing cards. And in keeping with the "rare" theme, let's especially take a trip back to the past, and see if we can find some decks of playing cards that really epitomize the meaning of rare, by bringing us back to special moments and events in history, or otherwise represent something special and unique. I ordered a bunch of decks to check out, many of which I am giving away as gifts to family and friends, and maybe you'll want to do the same after seeing some stunning examples like the ones that follow below. Let me warn you - gushing enthusiasm is standard fare for my reviews, because I only review things that I'm enthusiastic about, and right now I'm brimming with enthusiasm about these playing cards, and this website!



Let's start by examining some decks that have a connection with traditional games. There are many old time games that have a close connection with playing cards, and there are also some wonderful decks available that celebrate traditional use of playing cards, or classic board games like chess.

The Glamor Nugget: Gold Edition is luxurious tribute to the famous and rare Golden Nugget playing cards, with lots of gold foil and class.

Where to find it:


The Knights deck draws on a tradition as old playing cards themselves: chess. Created by Ellusionist, it is designed to have the look and feel of luxury and elegance, starting with the tuck box.

Where to find it:


See a full review of these decks here: Pictorial Review: Rare Playing Cards with Old Time Games


From old time games, we move to old time movies. It's time to bring out the popcorn, turn on the screen, and get the projector running - because in old times, there was no such thing as streaming media or digital movies! So let's turn on the nostalgia, and see whether these decks of playing cards can help us go back to the eras of old fashioned film.

The Bicycle Cinema deck brings the magic of old time movies to playing cards. The card design looks just like a film strip, including a classic yellowed finish to give a nostalgic and old time look, and there's even a special animation feature to give a 3-2-1 count-down like in the old movies.

Where to find it:


The VHS deck is stunning retro deck that looks like a VHS tape, starting from the tuck box itself, and has card-backs designed to look just like a VHS tape.

Where to find it:


See a full review of these decks here: Pictorial Review: Rare Playing Cards with Old Time Movies


So we've covered old time games and old time film, now it's time to look back in the past at another cultural highlight: the world of art! Can these rare playing cards help us step back in time, and enjoy some old time art from years gone by?

The Uusi Classic deck brings us back to the Renaissance era for inspiration, and is a beautiful deck that features stunning hand-painted artwork, that is a lovely interpretation of a classic style deck.

Where to find it:


Our historical journey to the world of art continues with the Russian Folk Art deck, designed by Russian Natalia Silva. This takes inspiration from Russian heritage and culture, which includes the beautiful circular floral design on the card-backs, and the fact that every single card in the deck has a different design, including the number cards!

Where to find it:


See a full review of these decks here: Pictorial Review: Rare Playing Cards with Old Time Art


Some decks are intended to be collector's decks, and these are typically decks like some of the ones above, which feature ornate artwork on every card. While this is beautiful, it's less ideal for playing card games or performing magic, because the exquisite artwork on the cards can distract from the magic or game-play. For this reason, the serious player or magician will look for a deck that has number and court cards that look more standard, while still looking stylish and elegant. And that's where the rare decks below come in. They are very playable, because they don't feature unusual or out-of-the-ordinary court cards or number cards. But they still create an immediate impression with a luxurious and classy look.

The Victorian Room deck is inspired by the Victorian-era, with custom aces, card-backs and jokers. It has a tuck-box with a die-cut circle that shows the center of the card-backs, and there's a fascinating story about "Ace Victoria" that goes along with this deck.

Where to find it:


When it comes to class and style, few things get better than the Rarebit Gold Edition deck. Right from the matt black tuck-box with gold foil it oozes elegance. All the card backs also have gold foil, giving the appearance and sparkle of gold, and evokeing an overwhelming sense of luxury and class. Also unique about this deck is that all the court cards have rabbits as the characters.

Where to find it:


See a full review of these decks here: Pictorial Review: Rare Playing Cards with Old Time Style


I trust that it's not difficult to see why has become one of my new favourite websites.

Beauty: I'll start with the beauty. There are so many decks to choose from, but almost everyone is going to find one deck here that will make them say "Wow! I want that!" Some of these playing cards are just stunning and breath-taking. It's hard not to be moved and enchanted by decks like Uusi Classic, or the Russian Folk Art Playing Cards.

Class: While some decks can be considered beautiful, others are best described as elegant and classy, and will prove to be a better choice for magicians and card players, due to the absence of distracting designs or artwork. Whether you're a collector, or a magician or player that needs to put cards to work, there is something suitable for everyone. I'm especially a big fan of the Knights deck, and the Rarebit Gold deck!

Creativity: Some of the decks featured here are just incredibly creative. While I love the retro look of the VHS cards, which instantly grabbed my attention, I've come to really appreciate the Bicycle Cinema deck, which has a unique animation feature. This kind of creativity stretches boundaries and adds new points of interest to admire in a deck of playing cards.

Quality: The quality of these decks is consistently wonderful. These are not cheap playing cards as in: cheap quality. They are produced by proven printing companies that are reputable and established names in the business, like US Playing Card Company, Legends Playing Card Company, and Expert Playing Cards. It's good card-stock and good finishing, that handles well and is durable.

Diversity: Because RarePlayingCards features decks of cards from a variety of publishing houses, they have opportunity to stock the best of the best from a range of different creators and designers. They do have a number of items listed as out of stock, which some might find frustrating or disappointing, but the fact that they remain in their online catalogue means you can still access information and images about these decks, which I consider useful, especially if it's a deck you've bought previously.

Visual: One thing that really made RarePlayingCards stand out above many other online retailers of playing cards that I've checked out over the last couple of months are their amazing image galleries. For each deck they sell, they have beautiful images of the tuck boxes, card backs, and some sample cards, which are well photographed and of good quality. So there are no surprises, and you don't have to imagine what might be inside the box. You can see exactly what you are getting in advance, and pick out something you like.

Service: My contacts with Matthew were smooth, and once I'd picked out the decks I wanted, the order was soon on its way, shipped within a day, and arrived speedily. I also find the website very professional and user-friendly.



So is something for you? If you're looking for an unusual or high quality deck of playing cards, the selection you'll find here can't be beat, and you'll be able to browse and find exactly the deck that you want. I'm very pleased to have discovered this rarity, and am happy to recommend the decks I've featured in this review, and this website!

What to learn more? Check out

Direct links for the decks featured in this review:
- Old Time Games: Glamor Nugget: Gold Edition and Knights deck
- Old Time Movies: Bicycle Cinema Playing Cards and VHS Playing Cards
- Old Time Art: Uusi Classic and Russian Folk Art Playing Cards
- Old Time Style: Victorian Room Playing Cards and Rarebit Gold Edition


BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame - click here to see all my pictorial reviews: => Magic Reviews <==> Playing Card Reviews <==> Board Game Reviews <==
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