Two Dapper Gentlemen

Dapper. (ˈdapə) adjective: (of a man) neat and trim in dress and appearance, e.g. "he looked very dapper in a dark silk suit"
synonyms: smart, spruce, trim, debonair, neat, tidy, neat and tidy, crisp, well dressed, besuited, well groomed, well turned out, smartly dressed, elegant, chic, dashing

If you look up the word "dapper" on Google, it will show you images like these:



Now that we've polished our vocabulary, let me introduce you the two dapper gentlemen pictured below, Andi Gladwin and Joshua Jay. Both are in their early to mid-thirties, and are experienced magicians who specialize in close-up magic. They have performed on major television networks, lectured in magic, and produced highly regarded teaching materials on magic. I can personally recommend very highly Joshua Jay's excellent book Magic: The Complete Course (which is now available in four languages, and in some instances comes with a companion DVD), which is one of the resources I've enjoyed and benefited from immensely in learning magic as a hobby myself.

Andi Gladwin is from the UK and Joshua Jay is from the USA, but in 2009 they teamed up in a commercial venture called Vanishing Inc Magic, which has not only published teaching materials for magic, but has grown into one of the biggest magic retailers worldwide. Check out their website to see the extensive materials they have available.

But for most of my readers who don't dabble in magic, but are boardgamers, it will especially be their enormous range of playing cards that might be of interest. Under the heading "Decks of cards—for magicians and collectors", their website states: "We have selected only the finest decks of playing cards; most of which are printed by The United States Playing Card Company. Many of the decks here are hard to find and will only be available for a short time." By my estimates, they have have an amazing range of over 200 different decks of custom playing cards available, with some absolutely stunning decks included.

Today, though, what I'd like to talk about is just one particular deck of playing cards. Because one of the most recent accomplishments of these two dapper magicians is the creation of their very first deck of signature brand playing cards, appropriately called The Dapper Deck.



Dapper Deck Deluxe

I'm going to start by showing you the top-of-the-line version of this deck, because this is something you'll have never have seen before: a deck of playing cards with a matching tie! This is dapper, remember?!

The Dapper Deck Deluxe Set has this tag-line: "The ONLY deck designed by fashion industry insiders, that comes complete with matching tie and pocket square." Well, yes, I'll be honest, I'm not sure it ever occurred to me to even try matching my tie with a deck of playing cards, but hey, for people like magicians who work with playing cards, and want to look truly dapper, this is actually a very creative and polished idea!



Here's how Andi Gladwin and Joshua Jay explain their vision for the Dapper Deck Deluxe: "When Vanishing Inc. Magic set out to design its first deck of signature brand playing cards, we had one specific goal in mind: to create the most fashion-forward, subtle, and sophisticated "look" for a deck of cards yet devised. The result is the Dapper Deck Deluxe Package, which is an attractive deck of cards crafted from the finest stock and finish, along with a matching silk tie and a 1000 thread count pocket square. Everything is packaged in a hand-painted wooden lacquer box complete with lock, practice mirror, and Dapper Deck insignia. Each package comes with a numbered, signed certificate by creators Joshua Jay and Andi Gladwin. Strictly limited to 400 units."

So let's just list all the luxury that was just mentioned right there. We're talking about two Dapper decks of playing cards. A matching silk pocket handkerchief. A matching silk tie. A luxurious wooden box with a practice mirror. And a signed, numbered certificate/card. That's a whole lot of deluxe items that come along with some playing cards!



Andi and Joshua's own description of their creation is as follows: "The Dapper Deck Deluxe is comprised of a heavy wooden box that previews the Dapper Deck design. Inside you are supplied with a deck of each color--navy and orange--as well as the pocket square (made of the finest quality silk available to us) and a thin, silk tie. A practice mirror is provided on the lid of the box for a quick check to make sure your hands are nimble and your tie is on straight. And an ornamental lock and key are provided to keep unsuspecting eyes away from the secrets of the Dapper Deck." Just...wow!

What's more, it even has the benefit of input from fashion industry experts that they consulted with! "We consulted with two fashion industry experts to help us hone a design that would match fine suits that the stylish magicians we create for would wear. The dapper base colors are navy blue or, for more of a punch, Jerry's Nugget Orange. The details are in pastel shades of green, yellow, red, and grey, and each back design is designed to bring out the colors of your wardrobe, and accent the tie or pocket square in your ensemble."

Now as a disclaimer, I don't personally own the Dapper Deck Deluxe, but just a few of the Dapper decks. And all this luxury doesn't come cheap. Most people aren't going to need a wooden box and a tie that matches our decks of playing cards. But now put yourselves in the shoes of a professional magician, and keep reading: "The idea here is not to look over-matched or branded. Instead, our hope is that early in your performance, perhaps as the cards are being shuffled, your most astute spectators will notice that the attractive print on the back of your cards is matched to your pocket square and tie. This is the kind of detail we strive for in the quality of our magic. It should be the detail we strive for in our appearance as well."

That starts to make a whole lot of sense, doesn't it? And it sure looks beautiful too!



Blue/Orange Dapper Decks

But you'll be pleased to know that even if you're not a working magician, the Dapper decks are also available independently, in either navy blue and orange. These are going to be of interest especially to collectors, cardists, and magicians, because they look absolutely lovely. Or should I say, dapper? Really, I just love the colours here, and the patterns!

First of all, notice the stylish tuck boxes, which are custom designed with a spade-shaped cut-out that reveals the unique pattern on the card backs of both decks.



Jerry's Nugget Orange

I'll begin with the Orange deck, which is the most striking of the two, with its fiery orange. Joshua and Andi call it "Jerry's Nugget Orange", as a nod to the infamous Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards.



I particularly love the vibrant colour and design of the card backs!

I also like the fact that this damask/paisley pattern is incorporated into a single pip on some of the number cards as well. Picking up the pattern/design of the main theme in this way really helps set this deck apart and makes it look stylish.



The court cards have designs that are along traditional lines with some custom elements, but most importantly they feature a colour scheme that matches the rest of the deck.



If you look carefully you'll notice yellow, red-orange, blue, and green, which results in a different look than typical court cards, but is completely in keeping with the overall feel of the deck.

The colour of the red pips is especially noteworthy, because it is more of an orange/red than a traditional deck, which complements the colour scheme of the main design. This really is a beautiful deck in every way!



Navy Blue

The Navy Blue deck is basically a matching and identical deck, except of course that the card-backs feature navy blue as the dominant colour.



I love how the damask/paisley design has been incorporated in the over-sized Aces. The Spades and Clubs use the colours of the blue deck, while the Hearts and Diamonds use the colours of the orange deck.



Dapper NOCs

After the success of the Dapper decks shown above, the guys at Vanishing Inc went on to collaborate with The Blue Crown's production company House of Playing Cards to produce another deck in the series, the Dapper NOCs. As with the other Dapper decks, the actual printing of the cards was done by Expert Playing Card Company in Taiwan.

The NOC series of decks has been produced since 2012, and is a series of cards defined by simplicity and elegance, which is the result of a minimalistic design. The original NOC decks from Blue Crown have already gone through several different versions, and were made available in a range of different colours. The Dapper NOCs are similar to version 3 of the regular NOCs, but what makes the Dapper NOC different is that it integrates the signature damask/paisley pattern on some of the cards, as well as on the tuck box.



Notice that the tuck box uses an unusual side-loading style, which was already introduced in the regular NOC V3 deck.

Most of the NOC decks typically have a striking back design with a uniformly solid bar of vibrant colour and just a thin border, with the idea being to put the emphasis on the card handling rather than the cards themselves, and this makes them a favourite for card flourishers. The design on the Dapper NOC is maroon/red colour, and the pips on the faces are also a deeper red to match this colour, rather than the orange-red used for the pips of the standard Dapper decks. They've also added a thin black border on the card-backs - again another difference from the standard NOC decks.



Despite the minimalist design, the large Pip aces with the damask/paisley pattern designs are still part of this deck. However, they have a slightly different colour scheme in the NOC deck. With the blue/orange Dapper decks, the Aces have four colours (red, green, blue, and yellow), whereas the Dapper NOC has Aces with only three colours (red, blue, and yellow), to match exactly with the three colours used for the court cards in this deck.



The court cards are also different than those in the orange/blue Dapper decks; in the NOC deck they feature the standard red/blue/yellow colours of a traditional deck, which is in keeping with the minimalist look, and avoids a colour clash with the maroon card-backs. In fact, aside from unique Jokers and the Aces above, the face cards look the same as an ordinary deck.



In contrast to the Joker from the regular Dapper deck which features the classic paisley shape (below left), the Joker from the NOC deck (below right) has a more minimalist style.



So to summarize the differences, the Dapper NOC deck differs from the blue/orange Dapper decks as follows:
- Entirely different tuck box, which is side-loading
- Card-backs that are minimalist mono-coloured maroon/red instead of colourful damask/paisley pattern
- Court cards have three standard colours (red/blue/yellow) instead of four unique colours (green/red-orange/blue/yellow)
- Damask/paisley pattern on the Aces has three standard colours (red/blue/yellow) instead of four unique colours (green/red-orange/blue/yellow)
- Damask/paisley pattern is only on the Aces, and not on pips on selected number cards
- Maroon/red pips for hearts/diamonds to match the maroon/red card-backs, instead of orange/red pips
- Different joker
- Master finish card-stock (thinner and more durable) instead of Classic finish
- Marking system for suits only instead of suits plus values



Conclusions

Colourful: I'm a huge fan of the colours used by these decks. I've always loved the combination of blue and orange, and it emerges strongly with these decks. The orange deck was my favourite at is first, but it is fairly bold, and so in some settings the navy blue deck makes a more sophisticated choice. I also find that the blue makes the patterns on those card-backs stand out more than on the orange deck, and this also works better for cardistry as well. Including the design pattern on the pips of some of the face cards is a wonderful idea (about one quarter of the number cards feature this), and really gives the entire deck a custom feel, yet without making it too distracting. In that respect, these are very colourful decks that remain very functional, and in my opinion the Vanishing Inc team has succeeded in created something that can actually be used and worked with on a regular basis, while at the same time looking colourful and incredibly classy.

Fashionable set: The deluxe version of this deck will be of limited interest to the average person, and that's why it was also made in limited numbers (400), but there will certainly be some professional magicians who will find this appealing. As well as looking dapper, they will also be able to use the handkerchief for certain tricks as well. Most of us won't need a matching tie or handkerchief to go along with a deck of playing cards, but even if you're not part of the target market for this, you have to admit that it is a pretty neat concept, and looks pretty hip! A deck that comes with a tie and pocket square, plus a lovely wooden polished box for storing everything - that's certainly unique. And Andi and Joshua didn't rely on their own expertise to accomplish this - they consulted with two experts in the fashion industry, one who specialized with colour palettes and helped them select a colour scheme for the decks, another who specialized in apparel material and helped them ensure quality materials and fabric.

Magical: Even without the extras of the deluxe edition, the Dapper decks themselves will have a strong appeal to magicians, who will appreciate that these decks come with their own subtle marking system. It's very easy to read, and yet it's not at all obvious; I've enjoyed played games of Cribbage and Whist with muggles using this deck (no, I resisted the temptation to cheat!), and nobody was the wiser. I would have loved to see this deck design also available in a non-marked version, but all along it has been Vanishing Inc's aim to create a great marked deck that was classy and affordable. Just like other NOC decks, the Dapper NOC also uses a system to mark the suit (not value) in a well-disguised manner, which opens up some nice possibilities for magical effects. Videos starring Alex Pandrea are freely available online which explain this marking system and teach a couple of routines with it. It's almost invisible, and one magician I showed it to took a while to figure it out even when he knew it was marked in some way, so the NOC deck is one that could be used as a normal deck as well.



Stylish: I really love the fact that the fashion design emerges in every aspect of this deck. Even without any of the accessories, it's obviously present on the tuck-box and the card backs, but I especially appreciate how it is present on the faces in the form of some of the pips, and on the court cards via the colour combinations used. It gives the entire deck a very unified feel, by ensuring that the design is present in a subtle way wherever you look.

Elegance: The reason you're putting a deck of cards in your hand will affect what you look for in playing cards. Collectors like a high degree of customization, while magicians and poker players tend to appreciate decks that have simplicity and elegance. The Dapper decks have been created by magicians, and that's why they will especially be satisfying for others wanting a stylish and yet elegant deck to use for card magic, due to the classy and functional look.

Quality: All three decks were produced by Expert Playing Card Company (EPCC), with the orange/blue Dapper decks using the Classic finish. This is probably the most popular finish for custom playing cards that are published by EPCC, and is comparable to the quality of a USPCC produced deck, but arguably better, with a traditional cut that has much cleaner edges and more durable cardstock. The Dapper NOC deck on the other hand uses EPCC's Master Finish, meaning that it has thin but extremely durable card-stock, and a stiffer than usual feel. It's identical to the Diamond finish used by Legends Playing Card Company (LPCC), which has been the subject of very positive reviews, despite having quite a different feel and handling from a standard Bicycle deck. Someone I know loves cardistry, and has really been enjoying the Dapper NOC for that purpose. Also see my review here for more information about the different finishes used by EPCC/LPCC.

Inexpensive: Most decks of custom playing cards cost $15 and upwards. Over at the Vanishing Inc website, all three of these decks only cost $8 each! Apparently Vanishing Inc was determined to make their Dapper decks the best price they can possibly be, and they've certainly accomplished that. $8 is certainly a very attractive price point that should make these very appealing to people.

Follow-up: This was the first Kickstarter project for Vanishing Inc, but it won't be the last. I've been informed that they have at least around half a dozen other decks in the works. Some of the other planned projects will also come with a luxury box. I'm especially looking forward to their planned series of mysterious "World Tour Decks"!



What do other people think?

Here are some of the positive comments from others about these decks so far:
"This is a brilliant deck of cards and have just become my favourites!" - Ken Robshaw
"Beautiful art, super-thin borders, lovingly-recolored classic royalty, bulletproof stock—a great workers' deck, especially if you like your cards stiff." - Josh Topla
"Beautiful card design, gorgeous backs. What an EXQUISITE deck this truly is!" - Mark Zust
"Also, the card stock is firm but pliable, the cut feels great in the hand, and the finish is silky smooth." - Mark Zust
"The decks look and feel amazing and make flourishes colourful and interesting to watch. One of my favourite buys so far." - Matthew Dawson
"The Individual pips randomly throughout the deck splashed with a pattern look great. Also I like the court cards as well." - Ian Reents
"These are great cards. I should've gotten more." - Darryl Cobb Jr.
"The courts boast one of the most vibrant and tasteful color schemes I have seen on a deck of cards and the back design is elegantly done." - Seraph

The deluxe version will be out of reach for most people, but for serious working magicians, it is certainly an investment to consider if you're in that category, as is evident from these comments about it from professional magicians:
"A decent pocket square and tie can go for at least $75 a piece. So the price isn't too outlandish if looking it as a fashion accessory with this kind of rich pattern and material. "
"Yes, I am more than okay with spending $150 on a limited edition set that includes two original decks, a one of a kind box, and quality tie + pocket square...of which only 400 are made. So not many others will be wearing what Im wearing. That seems like money well spent to me ... Especially when you consider you can go to Ralph Lauren and and spend $95 for just a pocket square."
"I gotta be honest, the tie and square are slick. Trendy and fashionable. Totally want them, myself. The fact the deck matches... so cool."



Recommendation

The Dapper deck isn't for everyone, and it's not even just for all dapper gentlemen. But it will especially have appeal for working magicians with a discerning taste and a gentlemanly look, and cardistry fans will also enjoy it a lot. I just love it because it's a lovely looking deck that is bursting with vibrancy, colour, and style!

Want to learn more?
Dapper Deck: https://www.vanishingincmagic.com/magic/playing-cards/the-da...
Dapper NOCs: https://www.vanishingincmagic.com/magic/playing-cards/dapper...
Dapper Deck Deluxe Set: https://www.vanishingincmagic.com/magic/magic-accessories/th...
Vanishing Magic: https://www.vanishingincmagic.com



These decks are also available at your favourite Murphy's Magic retailer. See the product pages at Murphy's Magic for Limited Edition, Blue, Orange


BoardGameGeek reviewer

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Dylan Posa
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Dammit, Ender - you are going to make me go broke with all these cool decks!
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