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Playing card paper and finishing techniques

Playing card paper and finishing techniques

There have been many advancements in the handling and feel of playing cards over the past decade. Some papers are apt for poker use or by professional magicians, and others are designed for ultimate feel but not as suitable for critical sleight-of-hand because cards can split or warp. 

This article is about paper types of premium playing cards. If you are adding special features like cold foil, hot foil, or full foil to your cards or tuck boxes, you can check out this article on special features.

There are many variables that contribute to the feel of playing cards, such as paper stock, embossing, coating, and cutting so we are simplifying things by naming them as 'Finish', representing how the finished product feels. Instead of getting overly technical, you can choose your 'Finish' type and we will make your decks feel as close as possible to what you choose. Print runs start at 900 units and vary in price from $2-6 per deck depending on quantity and special features like foil, embossing, etc.

CURRENT OFFERINGS - as of 1 January, 2021

CLASSIC FINISH Pre-Crushed - European Origin - Less shiny appearance
Our most popular paper, discovered by Legends PCC nearly 10 years ago.
The Feel: Soft and papery feeling, medium-flex. They feel perfectly broken in right out of the box, with consistent and even fans. The embossing pattern is similar to USPCC's "Air Cushion Finish", however they are cut with our super smooth and perfectly registered 'Diamond Cut' edges. Classic Finish is about 3x as durable as a USPCC Bicycle or Bee branded deck. They may cost a bit more, but they don't wear out nearly as fast, nor do the edges blacken when subject to light moisture like condensation on a glass of ice water.

VIPER FINISH - European Origin - Ultra Thin - Slightly shiny appearance
Our newest offering. Sustainably sourced. Named for the silky feel with a unique smooth, dry, yet slippery texture: a similar feeling to running your hands over the scales of a snake. Viper Finish is the goldilocks of feel, handling, and durability.
The Feel: 
Viper Finish blends the thinness of the out-of-print Master Finish, with the medium-soft flex and feel of the popular but rare Stud Finish. All of these advantages without destroying the fibers of the paper by crushing the stock, which can make a deck feel great, but weaken the paper and makes them much less durable and snappy. If possible, it is better to "crush" the fibers at your own pace by breaking them in with regular use. Your decks will last longer and feel just how you want them to.

As a bonus, Viper Finish is highly resistant to changes in humidity, so you don't get that 'pop' in the deck when you fly or travel to a dry climate, and the cards don't inflate in humid climates like Singapore or Hong Kong. A truly new feeling card stock like nothing else on the market, and over 10x as long lasting as Bee or Bicycle branded decks.

AIR-CUSHION FINISH
While technically decks printed by the Unites States Playing Card Co. are our competition, we love all things playing cards, and they make some of the best decks on the planet! 
The Feel: The crushed web-press offerings are the best feeling decks, with a medium flex and slippery feel. However they wear out and clump very fast, as well as inflate with humidity and pop when dry. But up until that happens, they will feel wonderful and very familiar to any magician or card enthusiast, and they are priced to be accessible. USPCC decks also suffer from horrible registration issues when being cut, as magicians know when looking at mis-aligned borders, and have edges that are rough and inconsistent. If you get a good deck, USPCC crushed decks will feel amazing, but the quality isn't consistent due to different presses being used (web vs. sheet) and many other factors like inks and coverage. 

Tarot Finish - European origin
350gsm, thicker weight than poker-sized cards, because larger cards have a higher flex coefficient and require stiffer paper. Available smooth or embossed.

Specialty paper - these will not be available unless by special request, or if demand is high enough.

Kaolin Finish - Japanese Origin
A very special ultra-rare Japanese paper stock. It features an extremely precise grid-like embossing pattern and different feel than our other paper offerings. 
The Feel: Firstly you will notice that the cards are lighter than Classic Finish, yet they are nearly the exact same thickness (about a 2 cards thicker). The cards fan perfectly out of the box, with a very light touch. Remarkably, this 'fanability' is even improved over Classic Finish, which we didn't think would ever be possible as Classic Finish feels perfectly broken in right out of the box. Kaolin Finish is slightly stiffer than Classic Finish, and does not last nearly as long as the ultra-durable Viper Finish.

LEGACY FINISHES (decks printed before 2021)

These are currently being phased out due to supply constraints and modern advancements in playing card paper. They still have excellent qualities, but will no longer be offered as a standard choice from Legends PCC.

Diamond Finish / Master Finish - French Origin - Taiwan Printed 
The paper that started Legends Playing Card Company, with it's debut on the famed Legends #852 decks printed nearly 10 years ago.
The feel: Hard flex, stiff, thin paper (thinner than a Bicycle deck, and much stiffer). Designed for working professional magicians or poker players. Over 10x as long lasting as Bicycle Air-Cushion Finish. Embossing is similar to "Air Cushion Finish".

Stud Finish / Cardistry Finish - European Origin
Ordered by LPCC as a request by one of our long time customers, famed working magician and magic creator, Patrick Kun. He requested a softer feeling paper for his decks without having the paper crushed. Stud Finish was used on some of his Mirage decks, as well as the Bitcoin project. 
The Feel: Our most flexible / softest paper yet. Buttery and smooth feeling and about 2x longer lasting than Classic Finish. However due to the nature of the paper, solid colors will not print as dark and evenly as on our other paper stocks as it has different absorption qualities. Very low stock remaining. 

Elite Finish - European Origin - First printed for magician DMC, similar feel to Classic Finish, with the most noticeable difference being the embossing pattern on the cards.

Emerald / JN Finish - French Origin - Printed in PRC with a 3rd party supplier we work closely with as the pricing is more affordable.
The Feel: Hard-medium flex, stiff, thin, with a smooth coating and very similar feel to Diamond / Master Finish. Casino-cut edges. Also suitable for Tarot decks.

We are looking forward to working on a Legendary deck project with you! If you ever want to print an ultra high-quality custom deck of playing cards, with a minimum of 900 decks, please get in touch with us on the CUSTOM deck page.