Popular playing cards materials

Maybe you have some idea of the stuff that males and girls are born with. However, are you familiar with the materials used to create standard playing cards? If you’ve read a previous post on this site, you probably know a little bit about the manufacturing process of paper playing cards, and you probably own a deck of cards yourself.

Did you know, though, that decks of playing cards have been created from a wide variety of other materials besides paper? Let’s have a look at some of the more typical and unusual substances that have been used to create playing cards.


These days, paper is used for the most majority of decks of cards. Some of the oldest decks of cards still in circulation were likely fashioned from paper and date back hundreds of years. Even now, it remains a favorite playing cards material manufacturers.

The United States Playing Card Company makes the most popular deck of playing cards in the world, the Bicycle rider-back deck. The U.S. Playing Card Company (USPCC) is well known for producing paper playing cards under the Bicycle and other popular brand names such as Bee and Tally-Ho. Using a specialized laminator, two sheets of paper are laminated together with a layer of black glue in between; this opaque card stock is then sent through a printing press, where plates apply ink that dries quickly. Precision cutting machines take multi-card sheets and cut them down to individual cards to create a deck. Although the specifics may change, other publishers such as Europe’s Cartamundi and Taiwan’s Legends/Expert Playing Card Company use a similar procedure to create embossed paper playing cards.


Those plastic cards, though, what are they good for? PVC and other types of semi-rigid synthetic plastic are commonly used as the basis for these plastic decks. These plastic playing cards have seen a tremendous surge over the past decade thanks to the rise in popularity of Poker, with televised games adding greatly to the game’s growth and success.

Playing cards made from plastic are more durable than their paper counterparts and are less prone to show signs of wear and tear. Furthermore, they are frequently watertight, whereas moisture is the main enemy of a paper deck. Keep in mind that a plastic deck makes card manipulation more challenging and less enjoyable because the cards tend to clump together. This is why magicians and cardists still favor paper playing cards when it comes to sleights of hand and other elaborate embellishments. However, if you’re a dedicated poker player who wants to get the most out of a single deck of cards, opt for one constructed completely of plastic. While a paper deck may only last through one poker game before revealing indications of wear that make it vulnerable to being marked, a deck made entirely of plastic can last through several games.


Paper and plastic are the go-to materials for practical playing cards, but when we go into the realm of novelty, we discover a wide variety of other products utilized, including wood, which is a natural choice for the craftsman.

The plywood deck developed by Donald Corey for Areaware is a great illustration of his inventiveness. This deck is clearly meant to stand out from the crowd, and it does it by including eight separate slots carved into the edges of each card so that they can be joined together. Because of the way the cards’ grooves fit together, you can stack them in any way you like, even into a tower fit for a king. You can finally build a house of cards that won’t fall apart at the first sign of wind, because these special cards are guaranteed to provide solid support. At just $36 on Art of Play, it won’t even put a dent in your savings!


Let’s make our playing cards more modern by switching to metal. A deck constructed completely of metal is obviously going to require some really specialized methods of production, so it probably won’t come as a surprise to find that a decent metal deck will cost you more than $100. You’ll have tremendous credibility, however, because you’ll be the only one in your city with anything resembling this deck.


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