The Surprising History Of Bicycle Playing Cards

Made by the United States Playing Card Company since 1880, Bicycle cards have become synonymous with quality and style by magicians who use the cards for speciality card tricks.

The Bicycle brand has an interesting and illustrious history, which includes involvement in three wars, and a famous magician.

Special Wartime Decks

During World War II, the United States Playing Card Company worked alongside the US government to design special decks of cards to send to American prisoners of war in Germany. Placed in the middle of each individual card was a piece of paper which, when joined together with the other pieces, formed a map indicating where escape routes were within the camp. All the prisoners of war had to do to reveal this information was to moisten each playing card, and the two sides of the card peeled apart.

 The Ace Of Spades

Believe it or not, the very sight of this card caused the Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War, to run away in fright and horror. Apparently they believed that this card foretold death and suffering, and if they saw it many soldiers were not prepared to stay and fight. The United States Playing Card Company sent decks that contained only the ace of spades to help the soldiers in Vietnam, as the cards were scattered throughout the jungle and in villages during raids, in order to frighten the Viet Cong troops.

Bicycle cards also helped soldiers to identify powerful enemy tanks, planes and ships by reproducing images of their structure and shape onto the playing cards, and sending them out to soldiers in action.

 War Against Terrorism

In 1993, the United States Playing Card Company designed a range of special card decks identifying the most wanted members of Iraqâ??s government. In one week, 750,000 of these â??most wantedâ?? decks were sold.

The year 2010 saw Bicycle playing cards celebrate its 125th birthday, and in the same year the United States Playing Card Company agreed to design a range of cards specifically for magicians. This move was inspired by David Blaine.

The design and feel of these special playing cards make it easier for magicians to handle and perform their tricks to the best of their ability. Greater strength and flexibility than standard playing cards means that these cards keep their shape for a longer time, and are easier to manipulate during a magic trick. Sleight of hand is enhanced, allowing magicians to baffle their audience even more.

This article is one of many on this topic, written by David Hamer, online author.


Image courtesy of Wikipedia

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