Imported Playing Cards: a classic deck from a Golden Era

Imported Playing Cards: a classic deck from a Golden Era

In this blog post, just a little bit about the inspiration for Imported Playing Cards, our first fully custom deck of premium playing cards. 

I first began drafting ideas for the deck in 2021, and after many false starts eventually settled on the central motif of an import tax stamp featuring the bust of the messenger god Mercury and the idea of a deck being delivered all over the world. See below for an early tuckbox concept featuring this motif.

Abandoned design for a tuckbox for "Couriers" deck of custom playing cards

I took a deep dive into the history of playing cards focussing on the "Golden Era" of western playing card manufacturing and exports, the end of the C19th and first half of the C20th. The concept for Imported Playing Cards was gradually worked into the idea of a fine English deck of playing cards, made to export to the Americas and stamped with import duty tax stamps en route. I abandoned most of the modern ideals and design trends and decided to create an authentic, vintage-inspired deck of cards. 


See below for an old Ace of Hearts complete with import stamp from this era, from the World of Playing Cards WOPC website.

vintage ace of hearts stamped with import seal of mercury

The decision was made to use nothing stock while designing this deck of cards, so all the pips, faces etc. were drawn by hand from scratch and made to look like a vintage pattern. For reference, see the comparison of the widely used USPCC standard Jack of Spades on the left vs. the colours and details of ours on the right:

USPCC standard Jack of Spades on the left, Imported Playing Cards vintage Jack of Spades on the right

The whole deck came together for a rich authentic experience of a classic pack of playing cards from this era; a deck which draws its beauty from its vintage aesthetic and timeless functionality. We hope you enjoy using them as much as we enjoyed creating them! And of course they were finished to perfection by the acclaimed Legends Playing Card Co.

 Imported Playing Cards final tuckbox design with Mercury motif in the centre

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