Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Playing cards deal elegant new designs


    This story was impoverished, somewhat, by having to make it fit into the paper. I could only hint at just how fascinating Jonathan Bayme is, nor the world of whimsey he's creating around theory11: they put on shows in New York City, and go that extra mile, such as tucking hidden scavenger-hunt type games into their products, in one instance for those who thought to pull apart the boxes the cards come in. Let's put it like this, I plan to write a future post about his stationery.
    But I was happy to get this in the paper, a column whose main point is: "Look at these cards."

     Playing cards are not hard to find. Almost every household has a few decks. We have seven just in two drawers in the coffee table in our living room: three Bicycle Standard, one unopened; two with pictures of kitties, one in 3-D; two souvenir decks (Nashville, New Orleans) and a football-shaped deck, a favor from some long-ago birthday party. I’m sure I could hunt up more. 
     That’s plenty, since I never play cards or think about cards.
     Until recently.
     An ad popped up on Facebook for Provision Brand Playing Cards by theory11, showing an elegant, gold and orange trimmed box, prompting a thought I’ve never had before nor imagined possible:

   “What beautiful playing cards. I want those cards.”
     I clicked on the link, and marveled at a picture of an ace of hearts, the heart being held by a knight’s gauntlet. It was both new and old, different yet familiar.
     “Our original intention was to create cards for magicians,” said Jonathan Bayme, CEO and founder of theory11. “We were doing instructional videos for magic on the web.”
     The goal was to “make magic look cool and modern and relevant,” which is not easy.
     “People still associate magic with cheesy, hokey silks and canes and top hats,” said Bayme. “We thought: How do we combat that? What if we use tools like playing cards, which look cheesy, with pictures of baby angels on the back. They don’t look sophisticated and modern.”

To continue reading, click here.


  1. Nice if a little odd. I just ordered a Provision Brand deck to send to my wife, who's staying in Seattle with our daughter. She can play Korean solitaire for hours on end.

    By the way, I have to mention the Chicago pedia booklet that came with the Sunday paper and which I almost left on the floor of 711 when it fell out of the ad insert package. Very nicely done, whether or not Neil had anything to do with it. One Chicagoese that wasn't cited is the word "prairie" for a vacant lot. Has that disappeared from the Chicago lexicon?


    1. No, and I felt a little bad they didn't think of me. I wrote some of the original "Chicagopedia" entries years ago, but those were more in-depth. One for "ballon frame house" comes to mind. I thought it was very smartly done. I am going to have a hand in the next one, on the end of the decade.

  2. Interesting column — Funny, I never thought professional poker players might have a preference regarding the deck of cards being used. I should have though. My brother never liked those extra large numbers on a deck that are likely made for seniors. He wouldn’t play unless we changed the deck. Also, my husband received a souvenir deck of cards from Asia, but he can’t stand using them because they are a shiny gold and difficult to read!

  3. I was online friends with a lady whose family owns a playing card museum in Spain, whereupon I learned they have long been collected, and are often considered works of art. Until then I had never considered them (beyond noticing that royalty is rarely portrayed as handsome). Turns out there's a whole world of artistic cards decks and collectors out there. #ABugUnderEveryRock


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