Playing Card Collector? or Playing Card Dealer?

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So, maybe after scanning through my website, you’ve decided that you’d quite like to gather up a few decks of really cool playing cards. But the question is, are you interested in ‘collecting’ playing cards? or ‘dealing in’ playing cards?

Image from bicycle-cards.co.uk

Image from bicycle-cards.co.uk

Yes…. there IS a difference.

tsI am in the unfortunate position right now where my partner – who, up until a few months ago had absolutely no interest in playing cards, playing card collecting, or Joker collecting – has become absolutely obsessed with the little critters!! When I originally started up this website it was all “Are you sure that’s what you want to do? There are more interesting topics you know!” But I stuck to my guns and went right on ahead. I got out all my old decks, my Joker collection, I bid on decks on eBay, pledged for new decks on Kickstarter, worked my wee socks off, wrote reviews and spread the word about the fascinating world of playing card collecting, and had a blast doing it. Meanwhile, a pair of beady eyes were scrupulously watching my every move…..

Joker Collection

All of my 3500+ Joker collection in binders.

Today, as I sit here updating my site, the post arrives and there is a neat little parcel for my partner. {The latest of MANY I might add.} So I send a text and get the go ahead to “open it if you want”. So I do. Because I’m nosey like that. And there are 3 decks of playing cards – David Blaine’s Green Gatorbacks, Infinity by the Ellusionists and the Spring/Summer Virtuoso deck. Now, while I’m delighted that we can now share this interest, The Other Half’s ultimate goal is totally different to mine. These decks are NOT for opening. Oh, no. They’re for keeping in immaculate condition until such time as they are of sufficient value to sell on and make a profit. THIS IS MY WORST NIGHTMARE!!!!

Image from cwpt.ca

Image from cwpt.ca

Allow me to explain… I’ve been collecting playing cards for over 30 years. It started with just Jokers, then went on to the Jack of Spades, and then I would buy decks of cards specifically to get the cool Jokers and Jacks. What I would do is open the deck and put the Jokers and Jack of Spades into their separate binders and keep the deck to the side – because I still wanted to collect the deck. Now…. some collectors might freak out a little at this. Or maybe even a LOT. But that was my way of collecting and I liked it just as it was.

Novel writing software without the learning curve.

vc093-darth-vader-episode-iv-star-wars-action-figure-vintage-collection-wave-12-759-pImagine me, if you will, as a kid at Christmas getting a Star Wars figurine. I’d rip the packaging off it and spend the next few months or years playing with it, taking it into the bath, chewing on it’s legs when I was watching TV, painting it’s face with ‘Kiss-Me-Quick Pink’ nail polish, have it swim through muddy puddles, or even catapult it across the street into ‘enemy territory’. Cos that’s how I roll, see? But then you get that kid in your class at school who doesn’t open it on Christmas morning. No. He keeps it in it’s original packaging and puts it away in the attic for the next 27 years until it’s ‘worth something’….. Now, I love money as much as the next guy or gal, and I know that making a profit on anything is always a good thing, but where’s the FUN?

Surely, when we take the fun out of our hobbies and interests and turn it into a money making venture, then it becomes ‘work’…?

I love the FEEL of the cards when I’ve just opened a new deck. I love to practice my fan technique and I get all smug when I’ve got it right – because I’m far from being a cardist. I love taking each card and studying it to see all those extra little bits and pieces of detail that the designer has surreptitiously thrown in there, either for their own amusement, or just because… well, just because. I want my Jokers in their binders. I want my Jacks in their binder. And what’s wrong with that? It’s my collection…!! And I don’t want to feel bad about that.

You shouldn't hide your light under a bushel... and you shouldn't lock your playing cards away from prying eyes... it ain't right...

You shouldn’t hide your light under a bushel… and you shouldn’t lock your playing cards away from prying eyes… it ain’t right…

Elsewhere in my house there is a stash of decks of playing cards. To tell the truth I think they’ve been hidden on me just in case. I did have a laugh to myself when I texted my partner and commented on how great the David Blaine Green Gator Backs looked in a fan-out. The absence of any sort of response quickly dulled my mood though, and I had to text back saying I was ‘only having a laugh, jeez…!!’ But these decks will remain unopened, untouched, unfanned (yes, it is a word – I just typed it), unappreciated…. and I personally just don’t get it. But that’s just me.

What I suppose I’m trying to say is that whatever you decide to do with your collection of playing cards just remember one thing – it’s YOUR collection. So have it your way. Whatever makes you happy. There’s no right or wrong way.


Maybe you already have a collection of playing cards. How do you collect yours? What is your ultimate purpose in buying decks off eBay or from card websites? Are you a collector? or a dealer? Please leave any comments or questions in the box below. And, as always, please do feel free to share this post on your social media by clicking on any of the buttons below. Thanks :)

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43 thoughts on “Playing Card Collector? or Playing Card Dealer?

  1. Adrian

    Hello, encountered this card collection in between the walls of our house. I have no idea about cards. The collection is just jokers and 2’s. It was in bad shape. I really dont know what to do with it. I was wondering if i can squeeze some cash with it:) thanks in advance. Hope you reply to my inquiry. God bless!

    Reply
  2. Matt Probert

    I collect packs of playing cards. To date about 2000 different packs, my wife doesn’t understand it at all, and bemoans the space they occupy. I adore the feel, the artwork, and even the sound and smell of playing cards. I fully appreciate what you say about not locking them away for years until they become worth something. Some purists will baulk when I tell them I open tax-wrapper sealed decks to see what’s inside!

    I document my cards, scan the courts, jokers, ace of spades and any other significant cards (such as Piatnik’s ace of hearts which carries a date and model code).

    To keep my sanity I send the scans to an online museum of playing cards, and research the evolution of designs (as a joker collector you’ll appreciate the changes and evolution of Carta Mundi jokers and perceive the jostling for domination from the designs of the founding companies). I self agrandoisingly (is that a word?) describe myself as an amateur playing card archaeologist – it sounds better than obsessed collector!

    Reply
  3. Jay

    Hello,

    Ran across your post. I have, as well, collected playing cards for 30 years now. I only collect, sealed & unopened, normal sized, decks of Americana. To date, i have 1797 different decks in my collection dating back to the beginning of the 1900’s. I love every time i run across a sealed deck i do not have ( matter of fact, i just bought 2 decks online before this post, lol ) and i too, cant wait till they arrive in the mail so i can appreciate them and their beauty and add them to my collection. Thank you for your interest and dedication.

    Jay H.

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      Hi Jay and thank you so much for your comment :)

      See, that’s where you and me couldn’t ever be more different…. If I had a deck from the early 1900’s I couldn’t resist opening it… Which would probably horrify you!! But this is the thing – people need to know that how they collect is actually up to them. I don’t want to sell any of my own collection, but my partner buys JUST so that she can sell for a profit. So of course, they have to be sealed. I wrote that article last year and it’s still a bone of contention between us…. Who is right? Who is wrong…..? We may never know….

      Thank you again for commenting, and I’m so glad you found my site :):):)

      Reply
  4. Denise

    Hahaha like the saying goes “watch what you wish for because it might come back to bite you!”. I can see you opening one of the decks and totally blaming it on sleep walking lol!
    No doubt your partner started collecting cards! you treat cards with so much admiration that a Trump kind of person will dream of a day someone like you wanted a card only they owned.
    It is nice to understand and accept that people need to appreciate their cards however they want even if it means not opening the deck at all.
    Very interesting post.

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      SLEEPWALKING!!!! Why didn’t I think of that?? Brilliant idea Denise. Haha!! I’ll be like that kid on Christmas morning when it’s way too early and everyone else is still in bed, sneaking in to open my presents. Then the light comes on and I’m caught out..!! If anyone asks it was your idea ok……? :)

      Reply
  5. Kevin

    I hear you. Most of the time, I collect coins more for fun than investment. In fact when I went to a coin show recently, I picked up a coin folder of the latest America the Beautiful Quarters. In the long run, it is not going to be worth much, but it gives me something to collect going through my change and quarter rolls, and I can continue to look and enjoy it. Keep your collective spirit and don’t let your partner convince you to not open your decks.

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      I’m glad you see it my way Kevin!! :) For me it IS about the enjoyment, and if I don’t even know what the face and pip cards look like I can’t enjoy a deck. It’s not the same having to Google the name of the deck to look at photos that other people have taken. We have a deal now though – as long as I buy more than one of the same deck I can open one and keep the others to sell in my online shop. Seems like a good deal to me:) Thanks for your comment :)

      Reply
  6. Jagi

    Your have a pretty detailed love of cards. I have never seen playing cards other than what they are, which is playing cards. Reading what you have written here, gives me a whole new view. Hopefully you can keep up with your partner with the card hobby, now that you’ve gotten them into it. Love it. Keep it up.

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      Thanks Jagi. Things have quietened down an little now and I’m happy to say that I’m allowed to open some decks. But what I tend to do is buy at least 2 decks at a time – one to open, and keep and the rest to sell in my website shop. It’s a nice compromise and I like it :)

      Reply
  7. Brandy

    What a fun post! I absolutely enjoyed reading it! While I haven’t started a playing card collection yet, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t interest me. It truly seems like a unique passion and an interesting one at that.

    I played cards all the time growing up with my grandfather and I always admired his cards. He had some uniquely designed card packs. I remember one was a WWII themed and I remember being so in awe by how detailed the artist made each card. It was stunning.

    Any suggestions on where a beginner can start?

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      Hi Brandy. I have to say it does suck you in once you get started collecting. This WWII deck of your Grandfather’s seems fascinating. Do you know what has happened to his collection of decks?

      If you’d like to start a collection yourself I’d say simply to buy what you like. There are that many different decks dedicated to that many different topics – zombies, cats and dogs, Egyptian art, sports cars etc. Or then again there are the decks that simply have beautiful designs – anything by Stockholm17, Jackson Robinson, Steve Minty etc. But like I say, if you like it then get it. A great place to start is eBay and you can’t really go wrong with Bicycle decks – there are so many out there. Let me know how you get on :)

      Reply
  8. Annette

    I stumbled on your post by complete chance and smiled my way through it. I know it’s from a while back, but I just wanted to say thank you for a fabulous read! :)

    Reply
  9. Sarah

    I don’t really collect things, but this idea is fun. Do collectors often build a collection with the intent to eventually sell them for a profit anyway? What’s the value in having so many to you? My husband once bought these terribly expensive Mickey Mouse card while were in Disneyland, then later regretted the decision. But how do you know if a collection or purchase with worth anything?

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      I’m the ‘collector’, my partner is the ‘dealer’. It’s 2 different things. I might see a deck and love the design and just want it in my collection, and I’m not thinking about what it might be ‘worth’ to someone else. My partner sees the future re-sale value and that’s basically it. If it does happen to be a beautiful or striking deck then that’s a bonus, but it will still be sold if the money is right. It breaks my heart….. :D

      Value is based on how rare something is, or how desirable it is. A limited edition deck that has been signed by the designer would be worth more than a deck that you could go into any shop and buy for a few quid. You can always check on the likes of ebay to see if anyone else is selling those cards your husband got to get an idea of what they’re worth. You might be pleasantly surprised :)

      Reply
  10. Travis Smithers

    Loved your latest post and I would be hard pressed to set the decks aside without playing with them.

    It reminds me of when I first met my wife and after dinner when she was washing the dinner dishes after the meal I had prepared she had broke one of my water goblets by accident. She felt really bad and wanted to replace it. When I told her they where the last 12 ever made for that type in Germany and could not be replaced, she asked me why I use them. So I told her, I like nice things and they are meant to drink from, now we have eleven more to drink from.

    Somebody will get to play with those cards.
    Again great post till next time.

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      You completely get me on this don’t you? :) It’s like those people who have a 250 year-old bottle of wine gathering dust in their wine cellar ‘just because’. Wine is meant to be enjoyed, and so are playing cards and water goblets :) Besides…. how do we know whether we really like something or not if it’s hidden away from view…?

      Reply
  11. Chris

    Interesting read. I knew people collected cards but I always thought it was picture cards, like from NBA or something. I have a friend for example who sells WWE cards and he basically can do that on ebay and his his primary source of income. Never heard of people collecting playing cards like Jokers etc. Is there anything you are really looking for when you add something to your collection? Is it the mainly the art work on the front of the card or the back too? Do you stay away from any particular kind of card ? I know know the backs of cards you can get go from pictures of Winnie the Pooh the playboy models. Do you still narrow down your collection or anything goes?

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      The thing with collecting anything Chris is that it’s totally personal. Your friend who buys and sells WWE cards does it because yes, he can make money at it, but also because (correct me if I’m wrong) he’s interested in WWE himself and so he actually enjoys doing it. I’m sure if he came across a card that maybe had no actual value in it but he just liked it, then he’d keep it and never sell it.

      Some playing card collectors collect because of the image on the back of the card – horses, cars, flowers, airlines etc. and that’s ALL they collect. With me I couldn’t possibly narrow it down. If I like it then I want it :D It used to be about the back of the deck because back in the day the fronts didn’t really veer away from the norm. But now, half the time the fronts are way more interesting than the backs.

      I have all the ‘usual’ kinds of decks in my collection – breweriana (beers, spirits, wines etc), souvenir (New York, Melbourne, Ireland etc) cartoon characters (Snoopy, Garfield, The Simpsons etc) travel (airlines, shipping lines etc) but I also have simply new decks that I’ve seen on the internet and loved. I don’t have any restrictions except for that one – I have to love them :) And there are a lot to love :D

      Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      Kyle, there are so many different types of playing cards it would make your head spin :) Some fantastic, some…. not so much…. :/ Makes my job very interesting and fun :D

      Reply
  12. Demi

    30 years of collecting cards. That shows how passionate you are about it. This is an awesome niche you have selected. Really love your site and had fun reading it!

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      The thing is though Demi, when I first started collecting, and really up until a few years ago, the cards were nothing like what’s available now. And they still got my interest. But all these amazing decks that are available today, just kind of make my ‘old’ collection pale in comparison. Exciting times, and I’m loving every minute of it :) Thanks for your comment :)

      Reply
  13. Rory

    Very cool and very stylish website. Really informative stuff. I’m becoming something of a playing card nerd these days since I first came across your site!

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      Thanks Rory, I’m glad to have got your interest – that means I’m doing something right!! :D If there’s anything you’d like me to cover, or anything you’d like more info on just let me know. I’m always willing to help a budding collector :)

      Reply
  14. tim

    What an eye opener Poker night will never be the same, plus I can now amaze my buddies with playing card facts.

    Great Site

    All the best with your collecting and your website

    Tim

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      Thank you Tim. I tell ya… there’s nothing like cracking open an amazing deck on a poker night – even if it’s only for one hand. Check out these cards which are great to play with all night, plus they have some fantastic artwork: Bicycle Karnival Renegades.

      Reply
  15. Michael

    Great article! Gets me thinking what I could have had as when I was growing up I had an awful lot of the Star Wars figurines (including the one pictured above)
    Of course same with some hockey cards growing up. Had a few Gretzky rookie cards and of course looking back on hindsight would have been a great collection.
    Anyways, gets me thinking on how many collections and collectors are out there with unique hobbies and all are good providing you have the passion for them (which I see you do). All the best and keep your collection (and blogs) growing
    Michael

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      Thanks Michael – I always have had a passion for playing cards, but it’s x1000 now since I’ve started this site. And that’s mostly down to the vast quantity of different deck designs that are out there. Just in the last few years, playing card design has exploded. It’s hard not to get excited about it and I hope that comes across in my writing :) Collecting anything can be extremely rewarding – if you still have any of your cards you should have them checked out. You just never know what you’ve got :)

      Reply
  16. andrew

    I hope this doesn’t come off as completely ignorant and if it does I apologize, but what makes a deck worth value and one not?
    I know I have quite a few unopened playing card packs that I received as a child from the old airline companies when they used to give children gift packs with crayons etc, I think I have a panam one, cathay pacific, and old air china pack. I had totally forgotten about them until I ran across your article.

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      No apology necessary Andrew :) With playing cards it’s much the same as anything else that’s deemed ‘collectable’. If it’s rare, signed by the designer, if the subject matter is something that people have an interest in, all this and more goes into what would make a deck collectable. A lot of decks are limited edition runs, so maybe there’s only 2000 of them in the world. Now, if you have one of these and it’s signed by the designer and you’ve not opened it, then in a few years that will become desirable to collectors.
      Your airline decks for example – the fact that they’re unopened will definitely help if you come to sell them. To give you an idea, you should go onto eBay and type in the names of the decks. You’ll see what other people are selling, and if you go into ‘Completed Listings’ then you’ll see what they have already sold for. If there are 472 listings for the deck and the Buy It Now price is .99 then that’s one thing, but if there is only 1 listing and they’re looking for $30.00 well then…. Ka-ching!!! :)

      Reply
  17. William

    That post was very interesting, I didn’t know that people collected playing cards, I knew they collected baseball cards, hockey cards and team cards in all sports but not playing cards. You are very different for taking the jack of spades and the jokers. Now I have a few questions as I am curious what do you do with the full decks just store them away? What kind of playing cards do you collect just expensive ones or different?
    thanks again
    Willie

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      I do plan to do a post about storage and display of playing cards, Willie, so keep an eye out for that. But to answer your question, most of my decks are in storage boxes right now. There are frames available that hold varying amounts of decks to display on the wall, so I’m trying to get a few of those for my favourite decks.
      And with my collecting I do just what most collectors do… if I like it then I’ll collect it. I have decks that have sentimental value only, but I just like them. I have a LOT of souvenir decks that aren’t worth anything but they just remind me of a holiday or a time of year or a city I’ve visited. Some of my decks are worth more than a ‘normal’ deck because they are limited editions. I’ll never make a fortune from buying and selling playing cards, so I’m happy just collecting :)

      Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      Haha! Thank you – sometimes it’s good to get the interest of those who aren’t ordinarily interested. Means I’m doing something right :)

      Reply
  18. Michelle

    Wow! I never knew there was so much to collecting playing cards. I had a couple of sets of cards as a child, and played a few family-friendly games with my parents, but I completely took the cards for granted. I honestly thought every deck was exactly the same, like all the playing cards in the world are made in just one place! How wrong was I?

    Thank you for an interesting website, and thank you for opening my eyes to quite a fascinating new hobby.

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      I know what you mean Michelle – up until just a few years ago most playing card decks were ‘the same’ with maybe just the backs and the Jokers different according to the manufacturer, or where they were made. But now there are so many new decks because designers are catching the playing card bug – and I love it!! :)

      Reply
  19. Traci

    Great site! Love your writing style. I have been a playing card collector, on and off since I was about 5. I love the look, the feel, the smell. My preferences were ones with horses, dog breeds, motorcyles and cars. I have quite a few that are well played with, and some that are still unopened, and in collector’s tins. Bookmarking you so I can visit again. I can’t wait to see what else you have to say about them!
    Traci

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      Thanks Traci – funnily enough, last year I sold off a few of my Joker collection, and I was able to group them into themes like ‘horses’ ‘dogs’ air transport’ ‘flowers’ etc. There are a lot of people who collect just specific themes, but I can’t restrict myself like that :D I love them all!!! :D I’ve been toying with the idea of having a ‘Your Collection’ section, so feel free to send in any photos and I’ll put them on the site :)

      Reply
  20. Roger Lee

    As a trading card collecter, I very much understand where you are coming from. I take great lengths to protect my cards, whether it is use of sleeves or folders because they hold not only actual value, but sentimental values as well.

    Excellent read, I enjoyed reading some of your experiences as a card collector!

    Roger,

    Reply
    1. Jyl Post author

      I agree Roger – I am very careful with my cards and my decks, no harm will ever come to them… but I at least want to be able to open them and LOOK at them… :'(

      Reply

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