Collecting Playing Cards

For no particularly good reason, I collect decks of cards. In fact, as of August 19, 2004, I have some 1079 decks of cards from around the world. Most cards that I can find nowadays seem to be straight-forward novelty/souvenir decks. A souvenir deck, with standard faces adorned with interesting or topical back designs, is very easy to get printed nowadays, and everyone does. While I don't refuse these (I'll even smile and thank you), and I even buy them myself occcasionally, what really brightens my day is a deck with completely unusual faces. More than half of my collection are these much-more-interesting cards.

One problem with these, though, is that they can cost 5-10 times as much as a standard deck, and most people seem unwilling to buy them at that price, unless it's a really special occasion. So the market, at least in the U.S., is small, and the manufacturers don't glut their markets. But I thrive on these decks - from local tourist sites to surrealist art, from literary commentary to fanciful courtesans, from political satire to historical recreations, I can't get enough of them.

Since I finally got a scanner, I've been putting up a little faux magazine every two months, spotlighting four to six decks of a particular theme. So far, I've done "Handmade Cards" (authentically produced reproduction decks), "Literature on Playing Cards" (decks of a literary theme), and "A Fortune in Cards" (fortune-telling playing cards). And there's more to come - I've got a good ten years more if I stop buying new cards this moment.

Buried here below the magazine, I have three things which together were my entire card page before I got the scanner: a letter I wrote to someone about it recently, a list of identifiable manufacturers from my collection, and the list of the collection itself. Someday, I'll have some more cross links, categorization and all sorts of librarian stuff like that. For now, raw data is about all that I have.

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