Mystery of the old deck: a bizarre question

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Nicholas17, Nov 1, 2014.

  1. I need to get to the bottom of something that's been bothering me for a long time.

    I seriously got into learning magic with cards back around 2005. Since about that time, there has been a deck of blue, Rider Back playing cards in one of the drawers in the kitchen of my mom's house. I've since moved to a couple different apartments, and often when I'm back at my mom's, I'll bring that deck out and mess around with it as I wait for laundry or whatever it is that I'm doing there.

    As anyone who does sleight of hand with cards knows, decks that get frequent use don't last very long (for our purposes, anyway), especially Bikes. I can;t even begin to imagine how many decks of cards I've used as my "man deck" since 2005, and I don't want to think of how much I've spent on them either, but it seems to me that I can buy a deck of Standard Bikes and after day or two of use they don't seem to fan right anymore. Springs, dribbles, shuffles (false and otherwise), etc... will kill a deck pretty quickly. Tally Hos tend to last a little longer, maybe double the time of Standard Bikes, in my experience.

    Over the years, I've handled that blue, Rider Back deck in my mom's kitchen for a combined hours and hours worth of time. The box is falling apart, I have to be gentle opening the flaps so they don't fall off. I'd be surprised if all 52 cards are still in there. One card that I usually leave on top, has a horizontal crease down the middle from being bent, and I set it aside while I handle the rest so it doesn't throw me off.

    Here's the weird part: despite all of that, this Rider deck handles perfectly. The fans are the best of any deck I've seen, and it spreads like butter (pardon the cliche).

    My question is: how is this possible? I have three theories:

    1) This is a "Rider Back" deck, not a "Standard Back" deck. It's from the days when Bikes were made in Cincinnati and not Erlanger. Maybe the cards were just that much better back then? Maybe the quality has dropped that drastically. I don't know. I can't remember.

    2) Sometimes I wonder if the cards have in a way, reverse aged. Cards start to fan poorly because of the oil from our hands and dirt and dust. Maybe the cards did fan poorly for a while, but now they're so old that they've become evenly coated all over with nastiness and that has made them fan well again. I'm going on on a limb with this one, but maybe?

    3) There's a portrait in an attic somewhere of a deck of cards aging horribly.

    What do you think? Any insights?
  2. I've had this happen to me to, and I can't rally explain it, but it could be that way because it doesn't get used every day. I've had decks of cards in my collection that I haven't touched for over a year, and when I open it, I give it a quick spring to get rid of some clumps and they handle beautifully. The cards get a bit of breathing room so to speak when you don't use them for quite a while. It's just something that happens naturally over time. It doesn't work with every deck, usually it's only cards of Bicycle quality and up. Like you said, the blue Bicycle deck isn't frequently used like your other decks, that's why it has lasted so long and will continue to last. This is why some people use a deck rotation to give their cards breathing room and time to get back into proper condition. I use a different deck almost every day and cycle between them to allow them to last much longer than if I used the same deck all of the time.
  3. Interesting. I hadn't thought of that.
  4. Really any USPC deck that is of good quality will do this. You use them, get the oils from your hands on them, and then as they sit, they slowly repair themselves - the oils seep into the stock and off the finish. Your hypothesis that it is an Ohio deck may hold water; it should be easy to tell from the box. Ohio bikes did have a slightly different feel, and I feel that quality control was better.

    I general, any time you leave a used deck of cards to sit in a cool, dry place, its condition will improve. Use it infrequently over several years and you have a recipe for a very well broken in pack of cards, regardless what kind of cards they are. I've been a card worker for over a dozen years - this isn't really a mystery per se. :]

  5. Oh yeah, it IS an Ohio deck. I know that for sure. I just didn't know if it would make that drastic of a difference.
  6. Please let that be a "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" Reference. Please.
  7. It's a "Picture of Dorian Gray" reference. "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" is also a "Picture of Dorian Gray" reference. :]
  8. Ah, spot on mate, I had heard of something similar and LoEG is the only place Id seen it.
  9. Much of a deck's performance is based on the amount of humidity inside of the cards. Some decks tolerate humidity better than others, however every paper based deck will give in to humidity eventually. It will cause cards to stick, to not fan well, and to no longer feel crisp and snappy.

    If you set a deck of cards like this in a cool, dark, dry place for a time (at least several days) you will be surprised by how much better they feel. Your deck sometimes just needs time to dry out. More often than not, your "ruined" deck is just humid. I keep around 500 decks of cards in my collection. Whenever I use a deck to the point that it starts to feel sticky or not as snappy as I like, I simply rotate it back into my collection where it sits for at least a few months. When I come back to it later, it feels great again.

    As for Bikes, everyone seems to think that Ohio Bikes are better than Kentucky Bikes. There may have been a short time when the Bikes coming out of the new Kentucky factory were of sub-par quality (the USPCC was working in a new factory with brand new machinery!), this is no longer the case and has not been the case for several years. The USPCC is always working towards higher quality products, and it just took some time to work out the bugs. Today's Bikes are at least as high of quality as those produced in Ohio, if not even higher quality.

    One more point, while I am on the topic. Everyone assumes that all newer Bike are the "Standard" deck. There are two different versions of the Bicycle deck in print today. The old Bicycle deck was labeled "808". This number was carried over into the new "Standard" deck we see in most stores. This deck has the word "Standard" on the front of the box, and an advertisement on the back of the box. The USPCC also prints a "Classic" version of this deck, which is what we sell here at theory11. This deck is technically labeled as "807". The tuck case is identical to the old style with the exception of the bottom flap of the tuck, which gives both the 808 and 807 designation. You can still get Classic style boxes, you just need to know where to get them.

    I hope this helps. Have an awesome week!

    // L

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