Jeff Sheridan's gripe about cards

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Postby MaxNY » 07/11/02 05:27 AM

I am not a card guy, nor do I ever want to be a card guy. Jeff Sheridan will always be the first column I go to, he is that important to me, but his recent banter about cards not being the same cards as twenty years ago offered no solutions to the problem. I am the type of guy that wants solutions, conclusions, if I'm going to read your gripes for five minutes, end on the up. Ever wonder why when you see kids on swings in commercials... they always cut to the graphic RIGHT WHEN THE SWING REACHES THE APEX OF POTENTIAL ENERGY? (Ok that has nothing to do with cards, but I always wanted to get that in somehow)
At the recent SAM convention in New York City some guy sitting next to me was working Green-backed Bicycles. So, I asked him where did he get those. Perhaps most of you know about Green backs, I didn't. He proceeded to tell me that they were US Army issued. They have more of a defense coating to protect from weather, and are colored slightly different as to read in red-light situations. Offer solutions. Tell guys where they can go to find the old cards...
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Postby Matthew Field » 07/11/02 07:36 AM

Max -- first, it was a real pleasure to meet you at the S.A.M. convention. Sheridan's gripe about the quality of Bicycles and other cards comes from a sense of desparation, I'm sure. U.S. Playing Card Co. has made it clear that magicians represent a tiny market for them. Cries in the wilderness from Sheridan, Peter Duffie and others mean nothing to them, but with Aarco now absorbed by U.S. Playing Card what choice do we have? Several cardmen I know use Fan Backs or other alternates, but Rider Backs are still what most people think of when they think of "regular cards."

If what you are saying is that if Jeff had no solution it was not worth writing about, well I don't agree. I wish he could come up with a solution -- I wish you or I could! I kept some sealed Aarcos that I open every year or so, but I've got no other solution than to get used to working with what you've got. Still, some Bikes are so poorly finished, the edges so raggedy, that I can't faro them. I write "BAD" on the box with a Sharpie and use them to practice Paul Harris tricks.

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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 07/11/02 08:18 AM

Originally posted by Matthew Field:
I write "BAD" on the box with a Sharpie and use them to practice Paul Harris tricks.

Personally, I don't have a problem with Bikes. Of course, I've never used any of the others, such as Aarco, or even seen them for that matter. So maybe it's just that the Bikes are the best of what's around now. Then again, I'm not a "hardcore" card guy, so I'm probably less picky than others would be. If I do come across a bad deck, I'd probably put it with my old dirty decks and use it for practicing Card Warp, Mercury Card Folds, and other such stuff -- like Paul Harris tricks. ;)

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Postby Brian Morton » 07/11/02 02:14 PM

I break open a brand new box of Bikes every week for my weekly gig. I buy them by the case (12 to a box) at Costco. One of my standard tricks requires two perfect straddle faros, and so I tend to keep an eye on how good or bad they are. About one in every seven or so is so bad it's un-faro-able. Which for me, is tolerable.

I'd go get Tally-Hos from Kardwell in bulk, but frankly, every time I use Tally-Hos, I get weird stares from patrons. Bikes are the norm around here, so I'm going to learn to live with them. Plus, the greater thickness of Tally-Hos throws me off when I go back to double-lifts with Bikes.

Granted, sometimes the back registration on the Bikes is so bad, they're almost like one-way decks. Those are the ones I use to practice card-folds and the like with.

On the whole, it's Bikes. Got no other choice, so I'm learning to live with 'em.

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Postby Guest » 07/11/02 03:33 PM

As someone who leans towards coins rather than cards I found the statement that Tally-Ho cards are slightly thicker very informative. I'd be grateful to hear from any of you deck jockeys as to how cards physically differ and how such differences alter your handling.

Postby Bob Coyne » 07/11/02 03:36 PM

What cards would people use (for close-up work, not manipulation) if having a extremely standard/familiar pattern (i.e. Bikes) weren't an issue with audiences? I've sort of given up trying to get better quality cards. But maybe by accepting something non-standard there's a solution. So I guess my question is, are there specialty "boutique" card manufacturers who make high quality playing cards? And are all US playing card patterns equally bad? Bee's, for example, used to be good, with a nice feel and finish...but I don't know if that's true anymore. And, unfortunately, they don't have borders which makes them unusable for too much. I'm willing to go with something non-standard looking if it's better quality. In fact, that might even be more interesting.
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Postby Brian Morton » 07/11/02 08:49 PM


I find Bees nice, but there's that whole border issue. Not that they raise suspicion (In my experience, they don't) but I still can't get past the whole "I feel like a cheater" thing with them. That and there's the fact that I'd have to go and order them by bulk from Kardwell again. I'm lazy.

In many places, the cards that people are used to are the cards that are sold the most in stores (Or vice-versa. Chicken, meet egg). Here in the mid-Atlantic, Bikes are king. Bees are second -- I bought a pack at the Rite-Aid for the highway-freakin'-robbery price of about three bucks.

USPC also makes a boutique deck called "Bulldog Squeezers." Great finish, good thickness (almost like Tally-Hos) and good quality control. Downsides: almost impossible to find, a one-way back design and this wild picture on the back of each card of two dogs ("Trip" and "Squeezer" snarling at each other under a leering full moon) above the rubric, "There is a tie that binds us to our homes."

They look like something you dragged out of grandma's kitchen drawer to play whist with.

Oh, yeah. And they're not cheap either. :)

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Postby Andy Hurst » 07/14/02 08:24 PM

It's interesting that we've all become so accustomed to Bikes quality drop, accepting 1 in 7 decks will be unusable, etc that we just toss it aside and don't worry about it. So sure, gripes and shouts from a few will achieve nothing, but I do wonder what would happen if every time we had a duff deck we called them on their guarantee? Maybe it wouldn't improve, but if they were getting guarantee claims on every bad deck from every card worker...?

Of course, that's too much time and effort - cards are cheap (for those of us in the US) and none of us are likely to bother wasting the time to mail a letter, etc.

Ok - I'll stop rambling!
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