On another forum I've seen complaints about the old Ellusionist 1800 deck markings, which were FAR too hard to read even if you knew what to look for, and comments that they later replaced them with more readable ones in a different location. I’m being intentionally vague so as not to reveal secrets. The nature of the complaints (and the name 1800) seem to match exactly what I got with a Bicycle Series 1800 deck from an online seller in Taiwan yesterday. So, first off, I wonder if anyone knows whether Bicycle bought the rights to the Ellusionist 1800 marked deck (MD) and reprinted it.
The aging on the cards is fantastic and they’ll be great for ghostly Halloween magic and spiritualist stuff…but I stared at them for 15 minutes and actually could not discern any markings, unlike those on Bicycle MD and Cohort Ghost, which are very visible once you know where to look and what to look for, but hidden JUST well enough to be useful with any sufficiently naïve audience (I don’t mean that pejoratively). I know what kind of things to look for other than overt stuff like Bike MD have, having read a bit about the history on this topic and inspected various systems and decks (I own nine). And could not find any on the Bicycle 1800s. I of course did riffles. Looked for all kinds of possible systems. Nope.
The seller even insisted they were unmarked! LOL
With the naked eye, I was only able to eventually identify one anomaly that was present on three particular cards but only when the card was oriented one way, not another. Finally, with a magnifying glass (I kid you not) and the help of an online video, half an hour later (really, maybe an hour including searching) I was able to start finding some of the faint traces that they *imagine* to be marks. This is not hyperbole. They are nearly indetectable EVEN to the owner of the deck after being shown what to look for. They could not possibly be useful to a magician, because as you all know, you have to be able to glance only very briefly at marks and identify them instantly, rather than staring for several minutes (literally), frowning, then getting it right only 50% of the time. After several eye-straining hours of training myself, I can now pick out and read 80% (I counted) but it takes me about 7 seconds of intense staring (I timed it so as to be sure I was not exaggerating) and then going back through the remaining 20% I can get about half right the 2nd time, and so on. And then I just have to stop, with serious eye strain. Certain card values and suits are harder than others to discern, and there are also certain cards for which one or the other is even fainter and nearer impossible to read. The faintness of the markings is such that they are on that very edge of 'Am I imagining that this is a mark, or really seeing one?'
I cannot know whether I unfortunately got a counterfeit copy or a real one, having purchased it online in Taiwan. There are sellers of both for e.g. Bicycle MD, and most but not all will tell you whether you’re getting a factory original or copy. Of course I want the real deal and don’t want to support counterfeiters (probably in China). If anyone has a legit copy of the Bike 1800s and could swap scans with me by PM I’d like to be able to verify whether the problem is the marking system or degraded quality in an unintentionally purchased counterfeit copy. If the latter, I want to complain to the seller and ask for a refund. I'd buy from a more reliable source with reasonable S&H to Taiwan if they were in stock, e.g. at Penguin, but often I'm stuck buying locally.
I wonder whether anyone has purchased them and knows what I’m talking about. I think I’ll have to re-mark them in various ways if I’m to use them as MD. I’d love to be able to put up a scan of the three above card backs to show what I’m talking about but I imagine it would be disallowed on this forum (I’d like to know from mods whether it would be ok or not).
I tried to post this very last night but the post wasn’t there in the morning. I can’t recall whether the tab crashed (my PC is ancient) and I was too tired to repost it (I’m on very heavy medication, some of which interferes with consolidation of short-term into long-term memory overnight) or what, or whether a mod might have removed it with no comment or message to me (I imagine not).
Would it be OK to post a scan showing the markings and comparing the three systems, or is that considered revealing too much for this forum? I imagine the answer is the latter so I’ve not posted it.
Anyway, if you get this deck, get if for the aged look, which is awesome, not the MD, which is unusable. There's no chance in Hades that an audience member could find markings on it, even if you handed them a magnifying glass and gave them 10 minutes to search.