Poor quality Svengali, stripper and forcing card decks

A place where beginners can participate, ask questions, and post their views. However, beginners typically ask a lot of questions about sources, tricks, books, and so on. In fact, all magicians are interested (or should be) in the provenance of tricks, ideas, and related matters. This department will service these needs.

Postby Guest » 04/01/05 08:20 PM

Side-stepping the issue regarding the merits of using Svengali, stripper or forcing decks, heres my problem.

I just purchased a Svengali deck (Bicycle Back) and was disappointed that there were only 48 cards in the deck. Twenty-five years ago, I felt I was burned in the same way when I purchased a Svengali deck with only 48 cards and a 1-way and 3-way forcing decks that only had 44 and 46 cards respectively. To add insult to injury, the cards in the forcing decks varied considerably in subtle coloration of their faces as if assembled from a random assortment of old and new decks. All these decks were purchased from presumably reputable dealers (advertising in Genii and Magic Magazine).

Is it common practice among magic dealers to sell less-than-full gaffed decks? Maybe its just me, but a deck of 48 cards looks thin and feels like its missing something. I suspect the attitude of the magic dealer is that the laymen wont notice if a deck is a bit on the thin side.

On a similar note, I recently purchased a stripper deck and had a similar disappointment. The stripper deck was in my opinion cut a bit excessively, but what really bugged me is that one corner of the cards are virtually squared off, with only a token gesture of attempting to round off the corner to match the other three.

Ive never been too concerned with the taper, but believe me its quite noticeable when a card your holding has one square corner and the all the others are curved! Im not feeling too confident about putting one of these cards in a spectators hand.

Im presuming these decks are gaffed by the individual dealers themselves using tools they have at their disposal. Is this the reason for the poor quality?

So to re-state my two questions:

1. Is it to be commonly expected that Svengali decks come with only 48 cards and that forcing decks will not necessarily be up to a full 52 count?

2. What can one do to assure one gets a truly professionally-made stripper deck and not an amateur job?

Thanks in advance for your opinions.

P.S. One last thing on the topic of stripper decks. Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever bothered to create a nearly undetectable stripper deck? One in which the back design was optically skewed slightly to maintain the border thickness on all sides? DISCLAIMER: Im just curious if it has EVER been done not whether its worth the effort or whether or not one should be using a stripper deck in the first place. :)
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 04/02/05 02:43 AM

Originally posted by Prince Bertram:
Is it to be commonly expected that Svengali decks come with only 48 cards.....?
I'd always wondered about that, because the only Svengali Deck that I ever bought was a 48-card deck.

But that was about 40 years ago. (And it was an Improved Svengali Deck, though that makes no difference.)

Dave
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 04/09/05 04:29 AM

Anybody?

What is the "normal" size of a Svengali Deck?

Dave
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 04/09/05 12:02 PM

Originally posted by Dave Le Fevre:
Anybody?

What [b]is
the "normal" size of a Svengali Deck?

Dave [/b]
From Schwartz and Walker's "The Expert at the Pitch Table": "Ronald Haines was responsible for developing the "Pitchmen's Svengali deck." It has 48 cards and no rounded corners. Decks with either rounded corners, 52 cards or a pretty yellow wrapper around the deck are all more expensive."
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 04/13/05 03:56 PM

Why would the handling bother you? Are you going to use the deck for other effects so the absence of the cards would damage your performance? There are better things to worry about then svengali decks and thinking lay people can look at the deck and ponder "hmmm...that deck looks like it is four shy of a full deck...something is afoot!"
Steve V
Guest
 

Postby Rich Green » 04/13/05 04:08 PM

The 48 cards come from the fact that you can put together 2 dozen Svengalis from 2 dozen decks. It's easier to buy the materials for that. I've pitched a lot of 48 card Svengali decks and no one has ever questioned the fact that a couple of cards are missing. I wouldn't worry about that if I were you.

Stripper decks are a different matter. The quality of Bicycle backed strippers for dealers is pretty poor. For a while, I had a collection of stripper deck cards that were returned to me. Some actually had cuts so poorly made that they actually cut into the pips or the back design! Specially printed "trick decks" were much better, so that's what I recommended to people.

I think your best bet with a stripper deck is to ask around and find someone who hand makes a good one and has taken the time to round the corners. It cost more, but if the back design is important to you, it is worth it.

Thanks,
Richard
Rich Green
 
Posts: 21
Joined: 12/22/08 06:03 PM

Postby Guest » 04/14/05 12:46 AM

Originally posted by rtgreen:
The 48 cards come from the fact that you can put together 2 dozen Svengalis from 2 dozen decks. It's easier to buy the materials for that.
Thank you, Richard. Now that you explain it, the reason is obvious.

Dave
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 04/14/05 05:51 AM

Originally posted by Dave Le Fevre:
Originally posted by rtgreen:
[b] The 48 cards come from the fact that you can put together 2 dozen Svengalis from 2 dozen decks. It's easier to buy the materials for that.
Thank you, Richard. Now that you explain it, the reason is obvious.

Dave [/b]
?????????

If you start with 24 decks, and use the 2 jokers with each deck as is done, you end up with 27 Svengali decks, NOT 24.

On page 6-5 of The Expert at the Pitch Table the method is explained for assembling Svengali decks from regular and trimmed decks. The assembly method itself, which is too involved for me write it up here, produces 54 Svengali decks from combining 2 dozen trimmed decks and 2 dozen regular decks.

It is the algorithm itself, which allows for rapid assembly of the Svengalis with no card value appearing in both the cut and uncut cards of any given deck, that creates the 48-card deck...
Guest
 

Postby Oliver Corpuz » 04/14/05 08:41 AM

Prince Bertram Wrote:
"What can one do to assure one gets a truly professionally-made stripper deck and not an amateur job?"
Ask the magic shop to hand make you a pro-stripper deck, and expect to pay around $40 for the deck.

At Midwest Magic, a regular stripper deck will cost you about $7.50. These stripper decks are either bought from a distributer (the magic dealer has no control over the quality of these decks obtained from a distrubtor) or someone at the shop will crank one out for you quickly... for $7.50 a deck, don't expect anyone to spend more than five minutes to make the deck. Two or three cards will be cut at a time and it won't be done with perfect precision.

If you want a pro-stripper deck, that will take at least an hour to make it properly, and the higher price will reflect the craftmanship involved.

First a suitable deck must be used. The quality of bicycle card decks varies these days. Some brand new decks just are not suitable candidates to be made into a pro-stripper deck. On quite a few brand new decks, the edges are rough and the backs are not centered perfectly (making these effectively one way decks).

Each card is cut individually two times and cut so it perfectly matches all the others. First the taper is done and then the corner is fixed to make it rounded. Two different cutting devices are used and each device must be adjusted perfectly to make precision cuts. This takes a lot time and patience to make the cards appear like a "normal" deck.

In fact, some folks have accidentally mistaken their pro-stripper decks as a regular deck and had cards from the deck signed, torn, crimped, etc. Sucks when that happens. Replacing a card doesn't work well because it generally wont match the others, and the deck will have a tendency to cut at the replacement (stranger) card.

Again, you pretty much get what you pay for. Don't expect a $7.50 stripper deck to be perfect at that price. A pro-stripper deck isn't easy to make and the price will reflect that.
Oliver Corpuz
 
Posts: 105
Joined: 05/09/09 08:33 AM

Postby Guest » 04/14/05 04:16 PM

There are SUPPOSED to be 48 cards in a svengali deck. The excuse given to the public by people who sell them is not a true one but it does fend off questions. You say "48 cards are easier to handle than 52" This is actually the excuse used in a little book called "svengali subtleties" which was sold to the public at one time.

The real reason is the profit margin. From every 24 decks you get 3 extra which can be sold. You include the two jokers in the calculations. These are used as long cards.

Ever since svengali decks have been sold to the public there have only been 48 in the deck. It goes back to the early twenties. Tradition you know.

The cards are not handled by the spectator so they don't realise a few are missing. What they don't know won't hurt them.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 04/14/05 05:01 PM

I was in the pitch buisness for about 15 years.

The first item I ever pitched was cards. I was

told that the reason there were only 48 cards in

the deck was to leave room to put in the instruct-

ions , bur I don't think that's right. I just

figured it out. Back in the good old days, 1958,

everyone made there own decks. You would get a

gross ( 144 ) decks in a case , take them to a

small printer that had a paper cutter and ask

him the best price if you opened all the decks

put them in the knife and he could cut them all

in one chop,then you would put them back in the

boxes.It dawned on me thar 24, the number po the

cut cards goes into 144 evenly. My instructions

fit two side by side on a sheet of paper making

them 4 1/4" x ll" . You would wrap them around

the loose decks and sell them on kids day for

$1.00 .A little Svengali trivea....Mike :whack:
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 04/14/05 05:57 PM

Here is another little curiousity. Since you get 6 extra decks for every 48 made you will of course have a lot of decks that have no boxes.

Now some svengali pitchmen in the old days would find boxes to put them in. Yet I know one fellow
who plain didn't bother. He just put a rubber band around the surplus decks.

Here is a funny thing. The banded decks sold far more quickly than the boxed ones.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 04/15/05 07:28 AM

I found I had a third Svengali deck (an Enardoe bridge sized-deck I purchased some 25 years agocan you get Enardoe decks anymore?) and it too totals 48 cards. So the answer to the Svengali question seems to be that one should probably expect 48 cards in a Svengali deck. I can live with that especially since routiner makes a good observation that:
The cards are not handled by the spectator so they don't realise a few are missing. What they don't know won't hurt them.
I do find it a little ironic that the instructions packaged with my recently purchased Bicycle Back Svengali deck states The Deck: The Svengali deck has 26 you-know-what cards which of course is misrepresentation as the deck really only has 24 of them. I dont suppose I can get too upsetmagic is after all the art of misrepresentation, is it not? :rolleyes:

Ask the magic shop to hand make you a pro-stripper deck, and expect to pay around $40 for the deck.
I only need one stripper deck in my arsenal, so I would not be averse to paying $40 for such a deck. Based on personal experience, does anyone have a specific recommendation as to a dealer or expert that can supply such a deck?

Thanks, everyone, for your informative comments.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 04/16/05 11:15 PM

Based on personal experience, does anyone have a specific recommendation as to a dealer or expert that can supply such a deck?
Cards by Martin is the dealer you're looking for.. I haven't actually bought from them myself, but they have a very good reputation, and I'm sure the members who do have personal experience will reccomend them. Here's what they sell, cheaper than you might expect.

You can get two decks of the much rarer belly strippers for $45.00, but this is the regular stripper ad:

STRIPPER DECKS: Fine, medium or deep cut. (Pg. 4) End or Side-cut.
Bicycle/Tally-Ho, poker & bridge $10.00
Aviator Bridge $6.00
Jumbo $25 corners are rounded.
Custom or "pro" Strip: A little off both sides, or ends so it's almost invisible,
Add $2.50 / Jumbo $ 5.00.
Guest
 


Return to Reference Room