MORE LEGENDARY PLAYING CARDS

In a previous review, I've already introduced you to Legends Playing Card Company (LPCC), which is a publisher of very high quality playing cards. Along with the United States Playing Card Company, they have to be considered as one of the industry leaders in producing custom playing cards, and the decks of playing cards they produce arguably even surpasses the quality of their more well-known and larger rival. The human legend behind these legendary playing cards is Lawrence Sullivan, an American magician based in Hong Kong, who after a successful career as a magician went on to establish the Legends Playing Card Company in 2013.



Applying his own pursuit for perfectionism to playing cards meant that success was rarely in doubt for Lawrence. The home grown "Legends #852" deck was an instant hit, and from there Legends went on to produce custom decks of playing cards for high end clients looking for a top quality product. Lawrence conceived the Legends Playing Card Company as his answer to the frustration experienced with many "premium" brands of playing cards, many of which were poorly cut and sub-par quality. He's committed to quality in design, details, paper, finish, and manufacturing, using a proven factory in Taiwan to bring his vision to reality. As a result, the playing cards available from the Legends website features decks that are nothing short of spectacular quality.

The four main finishes that prospective clients of LPCC can select from are Diamond finish, Classic finish, Elite finish, and Emerald finish. Legends also works closely with Expert Playing Card Company (EPCC). The two companies even share use of the same factory in Taiwan, with EPCC offering the same finishes as the first three just mentioned but under different names: Master finish (=Diamond), Classic finish (=Classic), and Damask finish (=Elite).

In my earlier review, I especially covered decks featuring the Diamond and Classic finishes, since these account for a large percentage of the decks produced by Legends. But Legends has continued to improve their formula and to experiment with new products, and so their other two finishes, Elite Finish and Emerald finish, are emerging as strong alternative finishes for creators of custom playing cards to opt for. In this review, I plan to cover several decks that use the Elite and Emerald finish, and compare them with decks using the Diamond and Classic finishes.

Maybe you don't really care about different finishes; you just want to know what the cards look like! No problem, then this is a review for you as well! Basically what I'll focus on doing is reviewing several new decks of playing cards, show you what they look like, with some commentary, and then at the end come with some concluding and summarizing comments. So let's start cracking open some shrink-wrap and get busy opening some decks!




ELITE FINISH DECKS

Cultura

The Cultura deck was created by Mankin Chan, and was inspired by the different cultures of the world.



This deck was printed using Elite Finish paper stock, and the tuck box has a linen feel that matches this. The design of the box has a pattern identical to the card backs.

What's unique about this deck is that it combines four different cultures into a single deck of playing cards. Each suit represents a different country, and it's obvious from the picture below, which features a windmill on the Nine of Hearts, that the Hearts represent the Netherlands!



Here's the complete list:
- Spades = Italy
- Clubs = USA
- Hearts = Netherlands
- Diamonds = China

The Jacks all feature traditional men's clothing from that culture, the Queens traditional women's clothing, while the Kings depict an old ruler/king of that country. Here are the court cards for Italy (Spades), which all reflect an Italian style of dress, and the King bearing resemblance to Caesar:



I was curious to find out the reasons for the choice of these particular countries. Apparently designer Mankin Chan did a lot of research before beginning the project, and in an interview had this to say: "I wanted to use countries from all over the world, and they should have a very distinctive culture. After choosing four countries I brainstormed a lot to find good categories to compare the cultures." So these countries worked well, because they all have unique elements that helps set them apart, and which can be captured in the different categories that the designer was including in the deck.

Here's some court cards for the USA (Clubs):



Notice how the Ace has a US flag. All the Aces feature the flags of that suit/culture. In fact, every number card represents a cultural category as follows:
Ace = Flag
2 = Name
3 = Drinks
4 = Bread
5 = Meal
6 = Sport
7 = Transport
8 = House
9 = Landmark
10 = Animal

For example, the four cards below are all 10s, each showing an appropriate Animal for each of the four cultures.



The cards below show show Drinks (3), Bread (4), and Meal (5) for the China (Diamonds) suit.



In real life, every country has its own culture, e.g. their own drink, mascot or landmark. Evidently Italy, Netherlands, USA, and China worked well for this purpose, being very diverse cultures, with a good range of different items that Mankin Chan could use for the individual categories about each.

Mankin himself says "I really like these differences, it brings variety to the world and makes life on earth more interesting."



The Jokers have a very personal touch. Together they make up a diptych of two jugglers throwing balls to each other, with the red joker being a tribute to Mankin's uncle who passed away, and about whom he has fond memories of playing cards with.



Here's an uncut sheet showing the entire deck.



The cards can be quite busy, so they aren't the most suited for some card games. However all the cards do have clear indices, so that still ensures good functionality.

Overall it is a very creative concept that has been beautifully executed, and it comes together as a very original and unique deck!



Leonardo

The ground-breaking Leonardo deck of playing cards proved to be one of the most successful projects on Kickstarter at the time it was released for funding in 2015, with almost 1600 backers raising an enormous sum of more than $81,000, way above the original target. This deck is named in honour of Leonardo da Vinci, and captures various aspects of his artwork.

Silver edition

Three decks were produced: Gold, Silver, and a limited edition Platinum. Let's start by showing you the lovely Silver edition:



The tuck box of the standard Gold/Silver editions had a number of notable features, including texture that simulated actual canvas. Yes, you can really feel this, and it fits beautifully with the overall theme! The art style of Leonardo's time period was further simulated by using matte hot-stamped foil topped with varnish, and egg whites. That's what I'm told, and I'm not sure I want to know specifics about how the egg whites were used, but I can say that the result looks beautiful.

What's more, as you can see, it even has interior printing, which is also in a silver foil style that looks very classy and eye-catching!



The card backs feature the Vitruvian Man, a classic Leonardo image that most people will be familiar with. Other elements also included on the card-backs are an equine head, blossoming flowers, and two examples of geometrical polyhedra - all of course artwork courtesy of Leonardo.

There is also a very ornate and iconic Ace of Spades, which is derived from Leonardo's anatomical study of a human skull, the original which is presently in The Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace.



The red suits have a different coloured background, which helps distinguish them from the black suits.

Each card has unique artwork. For example the Queen of Hearts was taken from "The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist" (ca. 1508), a piece which prsently hangs in The National Gallery in London.



The number cards all include examples of Leonardo's secretive handwriting. The designer further explains: "Values and symbols on every card are scaled, distorted and distressed to respect both the tone and the weight of the overall design." This means that the background of every single number card is different; while they all have Leonardo's indecipherable script in the background, none is the same, and even the pips are individually unique.



In other words, every single card in this deck has been totally created from scratch, from the numbers, to the pips, to the colours! And even the art has been compiled from multiple artworks, carefully placed together and crafted into a single image for each card.

That's incredible! Who would undertake such an ambitious project, and who has the skills to make it a reality? The answer is Dent-de-Lion du Midi. He explains his labour of love with the Illustrations and design as follows: "My interest in the art of Leonardo is lifelong. Realizing his work into modern playing card design has completely absorbed me this last year. Weaving elements of his paintings and drawings together and carefully integrating them has deepened my appreciation for Leonardo's sublime talent. I'm sure you can see in every detail my passionate dedication to my work. Please note the handwork on each suit and value - every card is unique, a real labor of love."

Gold edition

The artwork featured in the Gold edition of the Leonardo deck is the same, but the colours are different. Like the Silver edition, it looks spectacular from the moment you first see the tuck box.



The Vitruvian man reappears on the card-backs of the Gold deck, but the colours have a more vintage look, reminiscent of old canvas and parchments.



As mentioned already, every single card has different artwork as the background, including the Aces.

The overall design of the deck has given each suit an interpretation in line with Leonardo's philosophies, in Leonardo's own words:
♠ Spades = The Invention of War: "Every divided kingdom falls."
♥ Hearts = The Art of Love: "To enjoy - to love a thing for its own sake and for no other reason."
♣ Clubs = The Beauty of Nature: "Nature never breaks her own laws."
♦ Diamonds = The Power of Wealth: "He who wishes to be rich in a day will be hanged in a year."



The Jack of Spades is based on "The Bust of a Warrior in Profile" which Leonardo did in silverpoint, a favorite medium of Renaissance artists. Dent-de-Lion du Midi explains the other details on this card as follows: "The large crossbow machines, an unrealized invention, are from a separate drawing of Leonardo's, from his sketchbook The Atlantic Codex (ca. 1488)." Turning two images (a bust plus crossbow elements) into a composite in this way is not an easy task, and gives some sense of the extraordinary level of work required to make this deck!



The other card pictured above is the Queen of Clubs, which in some vintage decks is portrayed as The Flower Queen. To create this card, Dent-de-Lion du Midi took the drawing of an unknown woman's head from The Galleria Degli Uffizi, and combined this with some of Leonardo's original sketchbook renderings of nature, including a lovely 1473 pen and ink sketch of a small Italian riverside town. These separate drawings are shown below.



The final result was subjected to a process that du Midi calls "age distressing".



The Elite Finish paper-stock was chosen for this deck due to its more pronounced texture, which gives it a texture more like canvas.



Overview

The uncut sheets from both text give a bit of an overview of the entire decks:



It really is a stunning artistic deck all round, inside and out!



The Leonardo deck will truly appeal to those who enjoy Renaissance style artwork, or those who are fans of Leonardo da Vinci. The designer has a life-long interest in the great artist, and has spent hours painstakingly weaving elements of his drawings and paintings together. The fact that it's jam-packed with Leonardo's artwork makes it a real gem. But Dent-de-Lion du Midi has done much more than just reproduce the artworks, but has stylishly combined numerous artworks into original composites - an artistic achievement in itself. Add in the vintage style design, and of course quality cards, and the outcome is a great and original deck of playing cards!

The original intent was to get the deck produced by USPCC, but the designer in the end opted to go with Legends Playing Card Company, and the outstanding results have justified this choice. This deck really is a work of art, and a quality printing from Legends has made this worthy creation a thing of beauty.

LUXX Palme

The LUXX Palme deck is the second in the LUXX series, which are premium luxury decks. It comes in a red and a blue version.



The luxury and class is evident already from looking at the tuck-box, which has gorgeous wrap-around artwork, and an embossed logo accented with beautiful gold foil.

The LUXX Palme is considered to be a deck inspired by the renowned Paisley pattern. Don't know what that is? It's an English term (derived from a Scottish town) for designs using the "buta" or "boteh", which is a motif shaped like a droplet or fig, and originates in Persia, but was especially popular in the West in the 18th and 19th centuries.



The Paisley shape is already evident on the tuck box, but continues on the card backs, which are borderless, accentuating the flowing design.



The court cards have a classy and traditional style, but are customized to give the deck its own unique look.

Particularly noteworthy are the pips, which are highly stylized by being composed of separate pieces, a feature found throughout the entire deck.



As to be expected, there's an ornate custom Ace of Spades and Joker, the Ace showing evidence of the same feature just mentioned.



But it's especially the Paisley card-back design which is the highlight here, and which looks spectacular when the cards are fanned or spread.



Lawrence Sullivan, the founder of Legends, gives it high praise by describing it as "very subtle and one of the most elegant decks we have ever printed", while the Kardify blog named it as one of the Top 12 decks of 2015.

Credit here goes to Rick Davidson for the overall design. He worked closely with JP Playing Cards (the folks behind the luxurious and beautiful LUXX series) create the deck.



I'll leave you with one more image of a beautiful fan. One person gushes about this: "The borderless Paisley design results in some of the best looking fans in the history of playing cards!"




EMERALD FINISH DECKS

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong deck is the result of a collaboration between SCAD and Legends Playing Card Company, and was only released a month or two ago.



To discover the origin of this unusual deck, we need to pay a visit to SCAD (The Savannah College of Art and Design), an accredited university with campuses in the USA, France, and Hong Kong. Designers from SCAD were given a three day challenge to create a deck of playing cards that embodies the culture and/or history of Hong Kong.

Pictured here is Lawrence Sullivan from Legends, along with some of the challenge participants.



The winners of this "LEGENDS x SCAD design challenge" were Adrienne Valdes and Corinne Caro. Valdes and Caro created this deck featuring illustrations of Hong Kong cuisine and culture, as well as landmarks. Here's how they describe their goal:

"We came up with the concept of the cuisine of Hong Kong because for us, it’s one of the best things about Hong Kong! When we started studying in Hong Kong, the street food, the dim sum, and the many dishes of Hong Kong really made us love this vibrant country more! We created many thumbnails regarding the layout of the cards, but what we really loved most is the imagery of the chopsticks picking up up the various food. A lot of meals are meant for sharing, so we loved the idea that we could convey that thought through the pairs of chopsticks in each card. Lots of card games are also meant to be played with a large group of people, so it all matched together nicely!"

The card-backs feature a beautiful Hong Kong skyscape.



Most of the cards picture food, but the court cards picture various people eating the food that is pictured elsewhere in the same suit, with a backdrop provided by Hong Kong buildings and landmarks.



Each of the suits does have a separate theme. As you can see with the Hearts here, all the characters pictured on the card are eating the food from the wooden pails pictured on the Ace and on the number cards. As for the number cards, instead of using traditional pips, these feature servings of food corresponding to the number.



This deck celebrates the culinary diversity and delights of Hong Kong food by featuring its variety on the number cards, while the court card characters get to enjoy this food. In the case of the Spades, it's various items wrapped in a paper bag.



The Clubs all feature items on skewers, while the Diamonds all feature items on plates, as shown here.



The Jokers are full art cards, and convey a further aspect of Hong Kong culture.



As well as being available online, this deck was also released at various retail outlets throughout Hong Kong and Asia, including Hong Kong's International Airport - look for display boxes like this!



Perhaps my favourite thing about this deck is the fact that the back design is a borderless design, with several lines and colours running right to the edges of the cards. This makes it ideal for cardistry - with borders like this, it looks terrific when doing spreads and fans.



The deck was created with Legends Emerald Finish. Unlike the other three main finishes used by Legends (Diamond Finish, Classic Finish, and Elite Finish), which are all printed in their factory in Taiwan, decks with their Emerald Finish are printed by a factory in China. The Emerald Finish cards are quite thin, and have a texture and thickness that most reminds me of the Diamond Finish - but more on that later in the concluding section.

Porcelain

The Porcelain deck (Chinese Zodiac edition), was another collaborative project between Legends and SCAD.



Designed and illustrated by Shann Larsson, this deck has two main influences: traditional Chinese blue and white ceramics, and the twelve animals of Chinese astrology. Modern Scandinavian porcelain also played a role in shaping the look of the design, particularly the deck's geometric and organic forms.



To get the effect of traditional blue and white Chinese ceramics from the 14th century, spot UV varnish was used on parts of the card backs and tuck box to accent the colours. This technique was pioneered and popularized by MPC, and is a feature of their Impressions series that I reviewed here. It adds both depth and gloss to the artwork, and creates visual and tactile elements that would otherwise be absent. Having experimented with this technique, Legends now makes it available to their customers, and this deck is a fine example of it being done right.



The tuck box features the same artwork as used for some of the cards: the animal featured on the King of Hearts is on the front, and the Queen of Spades is on the back. The box also has a custom seal, and spot UV varnish helps accentuate details of the artwork.



The second major influence in this deck's design is the Chinese Zodiac. Each of the dozen court cards features a different animal from the zodiac, with illustrations that were first hand painted in watercolor, and then digitally refined on the edges to combine elements of both traditional and modern design.



The red suits are clearly distinguished with an exotic looking gold, which has extra lustre and depth due to the beautiful visual effect that is produced by spot UV varnishing.



Meanwhile stylish custom pips are employed for the number cards, like the Spades here.



This shot of an uncut sheet gives an overview of the entire deck, which shows clearly that despite the prominence of blue and white, the touch of gold adds a luxurious royal feel throughout the deck.



The combination of colours really works well! It really is a beautiful meeting of traditional artwork with modern design!



Only 1000 of these lovely decks were produced, and they've only just been released to the public, so they may quickly sell out!


CLASSIC FINISH DECKS

Knowledge

The Knowledge deck is a unique in-house deck produced by Legends.



Legends typically sees the creation of an in-house deck as an opportunity to experiment with all kinds of extra features, and to produce an absolutely top notch deck that showcases superlative quality. As Legends says, this deck "celebrates all the knowledge Legends PCC has gained from years of innovation in playing card production."

A classic symbol of knowledge is the owl, and that's why the owl motif features throughout this deck, including on cards like the Joker, and the card-backs themselves.



If you look carefully you'll notice an owl on the tuck box stamp as well. In the case of this deck, Legends' knowledge and expertise has resulted in a very special deck indeed. That's already evident just by looking from the tuck-box, which screams class with its spectacular gold foil on a matte black!

But it's much more than that - the paper used to make the tuck box is ultra-black imported Italian Fedrigoni paper. This is an intensely deep black satin-smooth paper stock that has special qualities, including a resistance to light, making the first of its kind to be used on a tuck box. Not only does this make the gold foil accents stand out even more strongly than normal, but it has durability as well as aesthetics, as the manufacturer of the paper, Fedrigoni, describes: "The innovative composition of the alpha cellulose pulp without carbon black dyes prevents oxidation when hot foil processes are used, and also helps reduce scuff-ability. This paper is neutral pH to ensure longevity."



Special mention needs to be made of the court cards, which have an artistic style that is considered to be "Arts and Crafts". The use of gold metallic ink on these cards really helps accentuate the beauty of these classic court card designs.



The beautiful Ace of Spades also features our owl friend prominently.

And as for the card backs, it's hard to imagine a more glamorous and impressive look, with the addition of gold foil making them looking incredibly classy, far more so than this picture can convey!



More needs to be said about the court cards. These full-framed images are classic designs that were originally designed more than a hundred years ago by Peter Gurney for his Verdye deck, which dates from around 1910. They are absolutely stunning, and really fit well with a stylish and luxurious looking deck like this.



The Peter Gurney court card designs were remastered by Legends, and Legends has acquired the rights to produce them on any of their decks of cards, including custom decks from clients.



To learn more about Peter Gurney and see images of his original designs, see The World of Playing Cards page here.

This really is a beautiful deck that looks every bit of the classy product that it was intended to be!



LUXX Greille

The LUXX Greille deck is part of the LUXX premium line of playing cards, and comes in either blue/silver or black/copper. This is one of the most classy decks I've seen so far from Legends, and it's not hard to see why, just by looking at the shiny tuck box!



Only 1000 of each were produced, and the seals are individually numbered.



The card faces are mostly in the traditional style, with slight adjustments to the font used for the numbers. However this deck does have custom aces, custom jokers, and custom court-cards, which are styled on a traditional deck, but with a modern looks with a more original yet unified colour scheme.



But the chief thing that stands out with this deck is the hot stamped shiny foil on the card backs. If ever a deck is going to dazzle you with its brilliance as soon as you take it out of the tuck case, it is this one!



The attractive tuck case is nearly all foil too, and this (along with the embossing) makes it immediately eye-catching. Like the card backs, it features a repeating grid pattern that was designed by Rick Davidson, with geometry that helps to emphasize the shimmering foil. Depending on how the light falls, the way this looks can change dramatically; from different angles the light picks up triangles, squares, or diamonds, and is very eye-catching.



The LUXX Greille is definitely one of the more premium and classy decks in the Legends catalogue!




DIAMOND FINISH DECKS

The Diamond Finish is one of Legends' most popular and successful finishes, and many creators choose to use it for their custom deck. I have already reviewed a number of decks with this finish previously, so I do have considerable experience with it. However my most recent order from Legends didn't include any Diamond Finish decks, so I don't have anything new to cover in this section. I can certainly recommend this finish however, and some of the decks that I reviewed have previously with the Diamond Finish include the following:

Legends #202 Egyptian Edition, Legends #098 Persian Edition, Legends Digital Petroglyphs, Aquila, Don Quixote Volume 1, Memento, and Jones Playing Cards.



For pictures and detailed coverage of these seven decks, see my first review.


CONCLUSIONS

The Four Finishes

Legends PCC offers four types of finishes, and a closer look at these different finishes is warranted, in order to compare them closely, and also give helpful information for any creator looking to decide which finish to use. To begin with, I should mention that the word "finish" doesn't technically refer to the coating applied to a card at the end of the printing process, but to the texture of the card's surface, and the style and depth of embossing. All these different "finishes" are coated in a similar fashion, but the real element that distinguishes them is the nature of the embossing, which creates an "air cushion" to make the cards slide optimally, and affects how the cards feel in your hands. Embossing can be done to different depths and with different patterns. The four "finishes" used by Legends PCC are different combinations of paper stock and embossing; this paper-stock is sourced and pre-embossed by overseas suppliers, and which one you choose can have quite an impact on how a deck feels and handles. I have close contact with a very passionate card flourisher and amateur magician, who has a lot of experience with cardistry, card manipulation, and sleight of hand, and I gave him a number of different Legends decks to experiment with, to help me come to a more informed and balanced perspective. What follows is largely based on his reflections and observations, which come only after he had spent a lot of time with some of the decks mentioned above:

Classic Finish: Of the different finishes offered by Legends, the Classic Finish is the most similar to the card stock of a typical USPCC Bicycle deck. It is quite a soft stock, and handles very nicely out of the box because of this, not requiring much breaking in to wear it in. The cards are embossed, and the finish allows them to slide very easily and evenly over each other for fans and other flourishes, as well as making it easy to shuffle. The cards also have some form of coating on them which helps with spreads and fans. While this can leave the fingers feeling almost greasy after extensive use, a coating like this is essential for the kind of smooth handling that this finish allows. Overall the feel is softer and more papery than some of the other finishes, like the Diamond Finish.

Elite Finish: The Elite Finish is very similar to the Classic Finish, with a very similar and perhaps slightly increased softness, which allows easy riffle shuffling and springs. What sets it apart from the Classic Finish, however, is a different embossing pattern. The Elite Finish has a much wider embossing pattern, composed more of lines rather than dimples, which is intended to be deeper and softer. This results in the cards feeling quite smooth on the surface rather than feeling slightly bumpy as a typical playing card might. While the cards fan and spread nicely and evenly, it isn’t quite as smooth as with the Classic finish due to the embossing pattern. Whether you prefer the Classic or Elite Finish will largely be a matter of preference, but the Classic Finish does seem to be the most popular of the two.

Diamond Finish: The Diamond Finish can correctly be considered one of the most durable of all the different finishes offered by Legends, being quite a stiff stock. The cards are thinner than normal, but despite this are surprisingly more durable and stiff than a typical USPCC type deck. This combination of elements means that the cards are very snappy, and when sprung from one hand to another they create a pleasant sound due to this snap. The cards are embossed with an air cushion style texture, but individually they feel very smooth, almost like plastic, which is also noticed in their snap. The cards can feel quite slippery, but they fan and spread very easily and evenly. This finish does take some getting used to, as it is quite different due to its stiffness and smoothness. But it rewards the newcomer willing to experiment with it, and the more one uses it, the more one comes to appreciate it. The Diamond Finish definitely results in a very durable and long lasting deck, which also packets great for various cuts. These cards do require some wearing in due to their stiffness, but it is well worth it!

Emerald Finish: The Emerald Finish is the stiffest of all the different finishes, having a thin but stiff paper-stock similar to the Diamond Finish. This stiffness is very helpful for springs, giving it a nice snap that produces a very nice and audible sound, much like the Diamond Finish does. These cards do not feel quite as much like plastic as the Diamond finish does, and the embossing pattern can be felt more easily on the cards. They packet very nicely for various cuts. This is a long lasting durable finish, but is easier to get used to than the Diamond Finish. They do however require some wearing in due to their stiffness. Depending on the printing process used, they don't always have the Diamond Cut that is standard for the other three finishes (although I've been informed that this is also becoming a normal feature for the Emerald Finish as well).



The Final Verdict

An industry leader: When most people think about quality playing cards, one of the first names that comes to mind is US Playing Card Company. But the decks from Legends Playing Card Company (and their friendly partner Expert Playing Card Company) deserve to be considered at least as good, if not better. They have a card-stock that is more durable, and a beautiful crisp cut that has amazingly clean edges, far superior to a typical USPCC deck. In a previous review I have already covered at length many of the elements that contribute to the high quality of a Legends deck of cards, as well as reviewed some beautiful examples of their work. My further experience with their products has only confirmed my opinion that they rightly deserve to be considered an industry leader in the world of playing cards. It's no surprise that many designers of custom playing cards choose Legends as their printer of choice in order to produce their dream projects.

Quality cards: There haven't been any decks from Legends that have left me unsatisfied in terms of the card quality or printing. The printing is consistently crisp and accurate, and the cards are excellent quality. While some of the finishes are different than I was used to from a USPCC printed deck, over time I've come to appreciate that these finishes are by no means inferior. If anything, I'm inclined to think that the LPCC produced decks are consistently of a higher standard than their USPCC equivalents, in terms of the card stock used, the accurate print registration, and the clean cuts. The four different finishes available also means that a range of options is available.

Superb tuck-boxes: Legends is not only known for its superb quality cards, but also the amazing tuck boxes they produce. These typically feature innovative design, and luxurious and classy enhancements like embossing and foil accents. These features are also on display in some of the decks mentioned above. The Knowledge tuck box looks incredibly glamorous, as does the amazing amount of foil on the LUXX Greille. But I'm especially fond of the Leonardo tuck box, which has been created to have the look and feel of old canvas, and the use of UV spot printing to create raised and glossy letters along with silver/gold foil accents creates an incredibly classy look. Certainly Legends knows how to raise the bar when it comes to producing an outstanding tuck box, which is the first point of contact with a new deck of cards, and makes an important impression.

Gold foil stamping: One feature that can really add class to a deck of playing cards is the addition of gold foil to the card backs. Examples of this include the Knowledge deck, and the LUXX Greille. I can't say enough about how amazing this looks. It does impact the handling slightly, because the addition of foil means that there are different parts of the cards that come into contact with each other beyond just the embossed stock. But this isn't something major, and the amazing visual impact more than compensates for this. A true cardist interested only in manipulating cards would probably avoid foil stamped cards due to them handling differently than a normal deck, but for someone wanting a luxurious looking deck, adding foil to the backs really increases the aesthetics of a deck and takes it to the next level.

UV Spot printing: A new technique that publishers are starting to employ in recent years is the use of UV spot printing, which involves a secondary process to apply an extra layer of gloss on selected parts of a card. This creates a glossy sheen in the places where this has been applied, adding a visual shine and a tactile feel. The Porcelain deck uses this process in conjunction with the Emerald finish, and the result is that it has bumps and patterns incorporated into the back design that can actually be felt. They feel very nice and add some sheen on the spots that have these raised areas, creating an attractive look. This does have some effect on the handling, and there is a greater friction between the cards because of these raised surfaces, which makes packeting of cards easier but fans and spreads slightly harder.

Diverse range: Due to the fact that they print such a high volume of decks for a wide variety of customers, Legends is able to offer a diverse range of different decks in their own online store, which you'll find here. In most cases, information about the deck is provided, along with a helpful image gallery that offers some photos of what the cards look like. A sense of this range is also evident in the decks I've reviewed in this article: decks like Cultura, Porcelain, and Hong Kong reflect aspects of different cultures; decks like Leonardo have intimate connections with art; decks like Knowledge and LUXX Greille target visible luxury and shininess, while the LUXX Palme decks are stylish and ideal for a poker game. And that's just a small sample of what Legends has available - there are of course many more.

Printing custom decks: For designers wondering which printer to use in order to produce their custom deck, making a choice of printer can be difficult, and the choices can seem overwhelming. USPCC is the default printer of choice for many creators, simply because they have an established name in the business, as well as the recognizable Bicycle brand. While they do usually produce a quality product, they are certainly not the cheapest option, and the size of a minimum order will be an obstacle for some. Legends PCC offers a welcome and attractive alternative; from what I am aware, their prices are cheaper, and if my correspondence with Lawrence Sullivan and his staff is anything to go by, their commitment to quality is outstanding. Furthermore, I would argue that the quality of a Legends PCC deck surpasses that of a USPCC produced deck, e.g. the clean and crisp edges are an obvious improvement. They are certainly far superior to MPC produced decks. Card collectors typically speak very positively and highly of decks produced by LPCC/EPCC in the Taiwan factory they use, and this is nearly always seen as a major plus for a prospective custom playing card project. You'll just have to make the right decision about which finish to use, since that can create quite a different feel, but they do offer a sample pack which will allow you to try all four finishes.



Recommendation

I wouldn't hesitate in recommending Legends Playing Card Company as a printer of choice for creating a project for a custom deck of playing cards, and also for purchasing a range of quality decks. They produce very high quality cards, and the playing cards available on their website include a diverse selection to choose from.

Lawrence Sullivan is a man absolutely committed to the very highest quality possible, and the results speak for themselves. Legendary playing cards indeed!



Want to learn more?
Legends Playing Card Company: www.legendsplayingcards.com
Playing Card Online Store: www.legendsplayingcards.com/collections/playing-cards

Direct links for the decks featured in this review:
Classic Finish: Knowledge Playing Cards, LUXX Greille Playing Cards
Elite Finish: LUXX Palme Playing Cards, Leonardo Playing Cards, Cultura Playing Cards
Emerald Finish: Hong Kong Playing Cards, Porcelain Playing Cards




BoardGameGeek reviewer

For more of my reviews on custom playing cards, subscribe to this list: Pictorial Reviews of Playing Cards by EndersGame

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
mb The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596

Subscribe to this list to be notified when new reviews are posted.

If you made it to the end of this review and found it helpful, please consider giving a thumbs up at the very top of the article, to let me know you were here, and to give others a better chance of seeing it.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls