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EndersGame
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* * * GLITTERING GOLD-EDGED LUXX DECKS FROM JP PLAYING CARDS * * *

In this review series I'm featuring the LUXX Gilt Edge Collection, produced by Paul Middleton from JP Playing Cards. Paul founded this business in 2012, with a passion for enjoying luxury playing cards. He'd seen how Kickstarter enabled independent designers and small agencies to successfully bring their creative custom playing cards to market, to compete with products larger companies. Then came his own vision for his own product: LUXX Playing Cards, designed to be a luxury brand of playing cards, that included decks that looked impressive, while remaining functional and affordable, with a broad appeal, and a quality production from Legends Playing Card Company. The result was the LUXX series, which has four main members in its family: Original/Shadow, Palme, Elliptica, and Greille. The Gilt Edge Collection takes members of this original series, and adds elements of additional luxury with the help of gold and silver gilded edges, applied by a master craftsman. It makes these decks absolutely stunning in every way, with an amazingly glamorous look! Let's find out more about the LUXX series, and about the Gilt-Edge Collection!

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* * * THE LUXX GILT EDGE COLLECTION * * *

Not all the LUXX playing cards are available in a gilt edge edition, but fortunately several of them are. To enhance appreciation of what the gidling process involves, and how the end product is created, it is helpful to know something about the traditional hand gilding process, which is typically done by a master craftsman. Hand gilding playing cards uses 24kt gold or sterling silver leaf, which is applied to the edges of the cards with a traditional hand-gilding technique that is hundreds of years old. True gilding does actually involve applying metal to the cards, so it is not just a matter of putting ink on the edges. Each gilded deck produced is a rare, unique and beautiful work of art that involves considerable skilled labour to accomplish.

Here's how it works: Firstly, after decks are printed, they are given to a master gilder/craftsman, who takes the cards out of the tuck boxes for the gilding process. It's because of the need for the cards to be removed and returned to the tuck boxes by the gilder as a separate process, that the decks of the Gilt Edge Collection don't come with seals. The decks are fed into a gilding machine, and when in position the gilder sands the sides in preparation for painting with metallic gilding paint. The gilding paint is carefully prepared with the precise consistency and elements, and is then applied by hand to each deck individually and carefully. When the process is complete, the newly gilded decks can be returned to the boxes.

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GILDED LUXX SHADOW EDITION

Due to the fact that the gilding process happens partly by hand, the boxes can't be wrapped in shrink. Instead each deck comes with its own white band, with Gilt Edge Collection written on it in Gold/Silver lettering. The reverse side of these bands says "Handcrafted in the United Kingdom".

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Here's the Gold edition of the LUXX Shadow, which has gilded edges in gold. The gold edges are so shiny they even produce a stunning mirror-like reflection!

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The Silver edition, unsurprisingly, has gilded edges in silver rather than gold, and is the only member of the Gilt Edge Collection that doesn't use gold.

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GILDED LUXX PALME

The boxes of the gilt-edge versions of the LUXX Palme decks also have custom bands around them, for optimal presentation.

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Once again the gold sheen creates an attractive mirror-like lustre.

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Gold and blue is just as much a stunning combination as gold and red!

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The gold looks particularly lively in conjunction with the Paisley themed card-backs, which employ a light beige colour that the gold edges really emphasize. As a result with the LUXX Palme, the gold gilt edges not only complement the backs beautifully, but actually emphasize the colours and help bring out their patterns even better!

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GILDED LUXX ELLIPTICA

Once again, the Elliptica members of the Gilt Edge Collection decks have a special wrapping with gold lettering.

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Here's our first look at an Elliptica deck with gilded edges - I love how the gold picks up the gold colour in the pattern on the card backs.

The orange and red on the court cards also complements the gilted edges beautifully.

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All the card-backs use a metallic gold colour for the pattern design, which the shiny gold edges really emphasize and pick up. Notice again the reflective qualities of the gilded edges.

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Gold gilding is used rather than silver for all the Elliptica decks, since it complements the back design so well. Red, blue, purple, green - all work equally well with gold gilding!


* * * CONCLUSIONS * * *

THE LUXX SERIES

Stylish designs: It's very obvious that the LUXX decks of playing cards aren't your average design. The court cards in particular feature some truly beautiful elements and stylish features. This is also true of the card backs, which reflect famous motifs like the Paisley design on the LUXX Palme, or the shiny foil on the LUXX Greille. In their own way, each of these decks feels stylish and unique.

Two designers: Both the LUXX Palme and the LUXX Greille designs were created by Rick Davidson, whereas the Original LUXX (First Edition and Shadow) and the LUXX Elliptica were both created by Randy Butterfield. I'm a big fan of Randy's work, and he's created a wide range of designs that reflects a real diversity of styles - for a comprehensive overview of them all, see my review here. With this series both Rick and Randy have had opportunity to showcase some variety in design, and the LUXX series is all the better for it.

Bordered & borderless: One interesting feature of the LUXX series is how two of the decks are bordered (Original, Greille) while two are borderless (Palme, Elliptica). Both Rick Davidson and Randy Butterfield have each contributed one borderless design to the series, and it's nice to see this kind of variety. While most people might prefer the traditional bordered designs, a deck with full-bleed card-backs that takes advantage of the entire canvas of the card-backs gives new possibilities for design, and has a unique potential to produce elaborate and attractive fans, as is particularly evident with the LUXX Palme deck.

Functional designs: Even though all these decks look very stylish and and refined, they all remain very practical. There's not an excessive degree of customization so that the cards aren't really recognizable anymore. The court cards are very much inspired by traditional designs, and while they have been customized enough to make them look elegant, there remains a very clear connection with the classical style. In addition, the number cards don't have extravagant changes from what most people are used to. The alterations add elegance and refinement, but ensure that the suits and numbers are very readable and clear, whether looking at a card as a whole, or just at the indices.

Legendary tuck boxes: In my estimation, Paul Middleton has made an excellent choice by opting to have all these decks printed by Legends Playing Card Company. When it comes to innovation and luxury in the design of tuck boxes, they are an industry leader. That's certainly evident in the decks in this series, which feature enhancements like embossing, gold foil, and more. A tuck box is your first point of contact with a new deck of playing cards, so it needs to make a positive impression from the outset, and these decks certainly do that. The LUXX Elliptica tuck box immediately confronts you with a rich gold foil pattern, whereas the LUXX Shadow Edition tuck box is darker and yet still very stylish and classy. The LUXX Palme has the wrap-around Paisley design that is its eye-catching signature, while the massive amount of foil of the LUXX Greille is impossible to go unnoticed. In every case, the tuck box makes an immediate statement of refinement and luxury, and impresses from the moment you set eyes on it.

Legendary card quality: Legends Playing Card Company is also renowned for the quality of their playing cards, which they make available in several different finishes: Classic, Elite, Diamond, and Emerald. The LUXX series features examples of the first three of these. With the Gilt Edge Collection, you get one deck in each of these three finishes: The LUXX Shadow Edition features the Diamond Finish, the LUXX Palme the Elite finish, and the LUXX Elliptica the Classic finish, which is also used for the LUXX Greille. The Classic finish is closest to the air cushion finish of a typical USPCC produced deck of playing cards. The Elite finish is similar, but has a different embossing pattern and more papery feel. The Diamond finish has the thinnest card-stock, but is the most durable, and has a great long-lasting snap. All these finishes offer different advantages, and it's largely a matter of personal preference. But one thing is for sure: they are all quality finishes, with crisp, clear, and accurate printing, and durable card-stock, which shuffles and fans beautifully. They also have a diamond cut with super-smooth edges that is significantly superior than any USPCC produced deck. For my thorough reviews on Legends playing cards and their different finishes, see my two feature articles here and here.

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THE GILT EDGE SERIES

Looks: I can't say enough about how amazing the gilded edges look. They have been applied to this deck just beautifully, and clearly this has been done by an expert craftsman who knows what he is doing. It looks absolutely classy, especially when the deck is together as a pile. The gilded edges won't show up that visibly when holding a single card, but look amazing when holding a stack or the entire deck. With nearly all these decks, the gold gilding matches at least one element of card-backs beautifully, and so complements the overall tone of the deck with welcome elegance. The visual impact is significant, and it really adds an extra degree of stylishness and luxury. It especially shines when doing packet cuts - clumps of cards really bring out the best of this deck, and will give you the biggest visual benefit from the gilded edges.

Usable: when I first saw one of the LUXX gilt-edged decks, I imagined it would be consigned to becoming a collector's piece, and that it would be destined to remain in its box in order to preserve its pristine condition. While a gilt-edged certainly can be used that way, it would be a mistake to think that this is its only purpose. Despite its lush appearance, this is by no means a fragile museum piece that cannot be used! You can certainly use it to play games, without fear that subjecting it to shuffling or game-play will ruin it. In fact, I personally believe that actually using a gilt-edged deck for playing card games is one of the best ways to get full enjoyment of a beautiful deck like this!

Handling: The first thing you'll notice with these decks when removing them from the box the first time is that all the cards appear to be stuck together in clumps. That's just a feature of the gilding process, and confirms that the deck has been delivered directly to you from the craftsman who applied the gilding. As a result, you will need to gently pry apart some cards the very first time you use the deck, but that is easily done. One publisher advised the following: "When you decide to break the deck I would first flex the entire deck lengthwise and then just fan the deck slowly, one card at a time, using your thumb to separate any cards that stick together." Once broken in this way, it functions more or less like a normal deck. The handling is affected somewhat, because most of the cards have a tiny lip on the edge. My experienced card flourishing friend was still able to give them a beautiful faro shuffle and lovely cascade flourish without much difficulty, but I expect this could cause cause the gilded edges to wear more quickly. But once the deck is worn, it handles fairly similar to a normal deck, unless you are doing sleight of hand. Because of the gilding, I can't recommend this deck for all kinds of cardistry (although they look beautiful when doing cuts, since these typically involve moving packets of cards!), or for a magician that performs moves relying on sleight of hand - it could be a little less predictable. But aside from that, the gilt edge deck still fans fairly evenly, shuffles well, cuts especially nicely, and for the average person, will function just like a regular deck. I was pleasantly surprised by this, and had expected the gilding to have an even bigger impact on the handling. Evidently the hand process used by LUXX's master craftsman is more effective than a commercial gilder or an automated process.

Durability: To be honest, I wasn't expecting the glossy gold edges on these cards to stand up to a lot of handling. But I wanted to give them a decent trial, so I took one of the decks along on a family holiday, where we used it intensively every day for Cribbage and other traditional card games, and really put it through its paces with heavy shuffling and usage. I was pleasantly surprised how well it stood up! Even after more than a couple of weeks of intense use on a daily basis, the gilded edges still looked shiny and gold. The only real signs of wear were from places where cards had been dropped on a hard floor surface, which would cause visible damage to the edges of cards from any deck. I've read reports of other gilded decks shedding gold specks almost immediately when shuffling, but with these decks the gold gilding didn't flake off while handling the cards or anything like that, but has stood up rather well. Perhaps this is the result of the fact that the decks have been printed by Legends Playing Cards, noted for producing very smooth edges, and that the gilding is the personal handiwork of a master craftsman. So judging from my experience, the gilded edges are very durable, and you shouldn't be seeing any signs of wear after using them a number of times. Expect the luxurious look to last for a decent amount of time, and even though signs of wear will become apparent eventually, my well-used deck still looks impressive.

Gift-worthy: These luxurious decks would be ideal to give away to anyone who enjoys card games, even if they're not a collector. They are all very usable and practical, and yet look incredibly stylish. The ad copy for the Gilt Edge Collection notes the following, which I heartily agree with: "Gilt Edge decks make an absolutely stunning gift for playing card collectors or those that appreciate the finer things in life!"

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RECOMMENDATION

I knew that these the decks of the Gilt Edge Collection from LUXX would look beautiful, but they have impressed me far more than I could ever have imagined. I expected the gilded edges to look beautiful, of course, and adding gold and silver to the edges of a deck definitely adds a significant look of luxury and class. But I didn't expect this visual beauty to be as durable as it has proved, nor was I expecting the handling of the cards to still be as good as it is. It's hard to imagine a deck of playing cards more stylish and elegant for use in playing games of traditional cards.

What's more, the designs of the LUXX series are creative and attractive, while not departing too far from elements of traditional design, which ensures that they are functional and practical. I can highly recommend the original series for gamers and collectors alike, especially given that they have been produced with a reasonable price-point in mind. And for the person looking for an ideal gift, or for some self-indulgent luxury, you really can't go wrong with the LUXX Gilt-Edge Collection!

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Want to learn more?
JP Playing Cards: www.jpplayingcards.co.uk/buy-playing-cards
LUXX Playing Cards: www.jpplayingcards.co.uk/buy-playing-car......ng-cards

Direct links for the decks featured in this review series:
Standard LUXX decks:
- Original LUXX: First Edition (Orange, Blue)
- Original LUXX: Shadow Edition (Gold, Silver)
- LUXX Palme (Red, Blue)
- LUXX Elliptica (Red, Blue, Green, Purple)
- LUXX Greille (Copper/Black, Silver/Blue)
Gilded LUXX decks:
- LUXX Gilt Edge Collection

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