US Playing Card Company
The United States Playing Card Company, started in 1867, produces and distributes playing cards, including Kem, Bee, Bicycle, Aviator, Maverick, Tuxedo, Hoyle, Tally Ho, plus other playing card accessories, like poker chips. The company is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, but will move to Hebron, Kentucky in 2009.
For over a hundred years, the inexpensive Bicycle brand cards have been the top selling playing card brand in the world. Bee is a high-quality brand manufactured not only for consumer use, but used widely in casinos. The company also famously made the Iraq's Most Wanted playing cards.
In addition to playing cards, the company offers card game accessories and novelty playing cards, including Winnie the Pooh, Spider-Man, NASCAR, Harley-Davidson, Coca-Cola, Budweiser and so on. The company also produces many varieties of Tarot cards. Contents
During World War II cards were produced that, when submerged in water, could be peeled apart and both halves had a map on the inside. When all the cards were put together it made a large map. These were supplied to POWs so if they escaped they would have a map.
The company provided crates of Ace of Spades cards for U.S. soldiers in the Vietnam War. It was erroneously believed that the Viet Cong believed the card to be a symbol of death and would flee at the sight of the Ace. In actuality the Ace meant nothing to the Viet Cong, however the belief did improve the U.S. soldiers' morale. Thousands of decks of these Aces were shipped to Vietnam where the Aces were purposely scattered throughout the jungle and villages during raids. Similar cards were produced during Operation Desert Shield in 1991, immediately prior to the invasion of Iraq by US forces. Due to the shortness of the conflict these cards never saw battle.
USPCC has owned Spanish playing card manufacturer Heraclio Fournier since 1986. In 2004 they acquired Kem Playing Cards, makers of durable high-quality plastic playing cards. Also in 2004, it was acquired over the course of four months by the Jarden Corporation and made into a subsidiary.
The company offers several card brands, including:
Bee Playing Cards are a casino card brand. They have been manufactured by the United States Playing Card Company since 1892, hence the number "92" on the Ace of Spades (the standard poker deck is now known as deck type 92). Bee playing cards have a diamond back, typically blue or red, though casinos frequently use customized Bee cards featuring a logo added to the backs. Unlike Bicycle cards, Bee cards have borderless backs, making the facing of any card that is even partially revealed clearly visible. However, the diamond back of the card is very regular and low-profile compared to other back designs, which simplifies "bottom-dealing" and other forms of sleight-of-hand.
Bee Playing Cards are comparable to Bicycle Playing Cards, which are not as frequently used in casinos. However, Bee Playing Cards are often found in Hong Kong movies.
Bicycle Playing Cards are a popular brand of standard playing cards, and are the USPCC's original brand and product. Since 1885, the Bicycle brand has been manufactured by the United States Printing Company, which, in 1894, became the United States Playing Card Company of Cincinnati. "Bicycle" is a trademark of that company. They are popular with magicians and other card enthusiasts.
The typical Bicycle deck (Poker-standard Type 808) is a standard issue deck of cards consisting of 52 traditional Anglo-American playing cards, two jokers, an information card, and a card describing poker ranks. As with most decks, the first standard card of the deck is the uniquely-stylized Ace of Spades. The Bicycle trademark is usually also printed on the Ace of Spades. The type number of a Bicycle deck can be found both on the bottom of the deck box and on the stone of the Joker artwork.
Bicycle playing cards are sold in a variety of decks featuring different cards (such as for use in pinochle), back designs (including the traditional rider back and older Vintage backs), face designs (inclduing Jumbo Index and Lo Vision cards for the visually impaired, and a "PokerPeek" design on their Pro series decks that simplifies looking at hole cards), and sizes (such as narrower bridge decks and Big Bicycle cards that are four times the normal card size). Any of the aforementioned are traditionally available with red and blue backs, but other back colors (including black, silver, and even pastel colors) are also available.
Bicycle playing cards are commonly used in card magic and flourishes, and are generally considered by magicians as the best playing cards for most tricks, particularly those tricks where the facing of the card needs to be concealed (this is allowed by the white border on the back of the card). Special Bicycle decks are available specifically for card tricks.
USPC debuted a new line of cards called "PokerPeek" at the 2007 World Series of Poker. The face of each card has the rank and suit at all four corners, at a 45° angle to the card's edges, and the size of the traditional face designs are reduced and flanked by jumbo-index ranks. The design was an attempt to make it easier for players to read their hole cards, while at the same time making it more difficult for anyone but that player to discern their hand. However, the new cards were largely pulled from play and replaced with decks having a more traditional face layout due to complaints from players. The "PokerPeek" face design was integrated into the Bicycle Pro series of casino-quality cards aimed at the home market, and currently available at retail as of 2008.
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