Designed by Blake Brenneman and Michael Messer, Revelation is an extraordinary deck of playing cards inspired by medieval cathedrals and their gothic style. This meticulously hand-illustrated deck features gothic details, symbolic carvings and stained glass ornamentations from the stunning Nidaros cathedral in Norway.

A fully customised deck of cards, the Revelation tuck box, jokers, Ace of Spades and the eye-catching backs features artwork inspired by the beautiful stained glass of the cathedral while the illustrated skeleton courts pays homage to the silent skeletons of Norwegian royalty still resting in Nidaros’ catacombs. A strangely beautiful, simple and visually stunning theme.

We caught up with Blake for a quick chat about his design background, the inspiration & design process behind Revelation and Deckstarter.

Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
I’ve been involved in the world of magic for many years with a special interest in gambling sleights and casino protection. The beauty of magic, for me at least, is the psychology behind it; the truest version of magic happens with the most normal of objects, with sheer perception being the thing manipulated most of all. This fascination with psychology kind of plays into my interests in college; I’m currently wavering between a psychology degree and one in business and history.

As far as my design background is concerned, things are actually kind of ironic. My design background is almost nonexistent. That being said, my three biggest loves in life (other than my fiancé, of course) are theology, psychology, and fine art, and it is at the nexus of these three concepts that I derived inspiration for Revelation.

Revelation will be your first playing card deck. How did you and D&D end up collaborating together for Deckstarter?
My big design team consists of Michael Messer and myself. When we started this project we new that, since this is our flagship project, we wanted to go the crowd funding route, both for financial and marketing reasons. As a long time fan of Dan & Dave playing cards, I knew that the durability and artisan nature of our cards would have a wide-enough appeal with niche interest to be successful on a platform like Deckstarter. After we’d solidified the design concept, we inquired into Deckstarter, and now we’re here.

What is your inspiration behind the Revelation deck? How did you come up with the idea?
I’ve always wanted a stained glass themed deck of cards, as there really aren’t any on the market that I’m aware of. Michael has a unique style of drawing that revolves around a deft hand with a ink pen, rather than charcoal or graphite or paint. As we spoke about possibilities for this first deck, I suggested something with stained glass, and with Michael’s help, that idea ended up in the realms of Gothic art and architecture. As we moved through that concept, one of the inspirations that really stuck with us was the Nidaros cathedral in Norway (which unbeknownst to me, Dan & Dave had also explored in Papercuts).

Talk to us a bit about going from the first draft to the final version. How many iterations were there? How did you get feedback?
We birthed the deck onto the paper and saw it and said it was good. Actually, Michael and I fed off of each other for most of the design. I had an expertise in playing cards and their irregularities as a canvas, and Michael—who is one of the brightest artists I’ve ever met—truly understands his art form. So we would pitch ideas back and forth to each other and whittle them down and Michael would sketch ideas. Once we’d finished the back, the ace of spades, and the joker designs, I sent out those concept sketches to some of my card designer friends who had launched through other platforms for feedback.

Of course, while the back design and ace of spade were very straightforward for us (it transitioned quickly from Starbucks doodle to finished digital piece), the face cards went through several radical changes. We had a completely different set of face cards finished, discarded them, and ended up with the skeletons that you now see. The joker, without a doubt, was our most difficult design. Unlike any other playing card, the Joker is the blankest canvas with infinite possibility, so it went through the most changes.

What was your most brilliant breakthrough when designing the deck?
Without a doubt our biggest breakthrough was the realization of the minimalist color palette. Originally we wanted to have very open, very colorful stained glass backs, but every draft just seemed cluttered, busy, and managed to obscure Michael’s careful line art. Once we discovered the beauty of the black, white, and red colors it brought out all of the shadows of Gothic art drawn within the finesse of the intricate back designs.

From the project page, what are a few of your favorite reward levels and why?
I have two favorites. The first one is definitely the uncut sheet of cards because I’m a huge sucker for those. At the moment I have nine of them framed and hanging in my apartment. I love the fact that we are able to make Revelation’s uncut sheets so affordable to our backers and that we are able to include a deck of cards along with it.

My second favorite would be the t-shirts available to our backers, which highlight our unique box design. On the front you have the iconic skull that underscores our most prominent motif for Revelation, and on the back you have the subtle accent line running around the entirety of the box.

Finally, what are some of your favorite decks or designers?
Some of my favorite decks of cards have to be Ace Fulton’s, Clip Joints, and Vintage Plaids. Interestingly enough all three of those are Dan & Dave cards; not only are they well-designed, but they handle magnificently. Ace Fulton’s are perfect for close-up magic, Vintage Plaids have the best sort of color illusion on the back, and the simplicity of Clip Joints coupled with their elegant feel make each deck memorable.

Jackson Robinson’s Federal 52 series are amazing as well; his attention to detail turns every card into an individual work of art. Paul Carpenter’s Tendril series of cards show a fantastic balance of color contrast and design. Other cards I love include Ace Fulton’s Chinatown, green Artifice cards, Vintage Pierres and the Urban Punk deck.

Thank you for your time, Blake. If you like what you’ve read here and want to support the Revelation Deck, you can find it on Deckstarter here.

Pledge starts from $8 and Revelation will be printed by the EPCC. Also, add-ons such as uncut sheet and t-shirt are available. The tuck box will be specially foiled and embossed when the campaign reaches it's stretched goal of 125%.

When I started collecting, and I'm not talking about just playing cards, I mean collecting in general, I always wanted to catalog what I had. The more detailed the better, I'm not sure why, I think it's just the type of person/collector I am. I like glancing over images and updating details to items I still have questions on, it's fun and part of the process in my opinion. I don't think I'm too far off base because as I see new collectors join the community by joining a forum or Facebook group, the question seems to eventually come up...."How do you keep track of your collection?"

Of course we aren't all like that, some of us don't care about keeping records of our collection, some of us do, but can't come up with more than a list in a binder. Yes you can make a fancy Excel spreadsheet, but even that can remain pretty basic unless you know how to use some of the Excel functions. There are also some collecting programs out there that can be "Adapted" to work with playing cards, but for the most part they cost something.

So not too long ago Rhuaridh Clark, a website developer by day and card collector by night, started building a Data Base for himself to catalog and organize his collection. The "Idea" kind of morphed and grew through sharing it with some friends and became the Playing Card Data Base (PCDB). The PCDB has been growing quite well, it is a project driven by collectors and completely free and simple to use.

It's quite the complete system for an individual without the time or, i mean no disrespect by this, or talent to build a "Catalog" of there own. The data base is stored in a "List" form, meaning a list of items available in the data base, as well as in "Scan" form, which is a scan of the Tuck box of any given deck.

When you 1st sign up, you will have your own "Page" where any decks you select to "Add" to your account will be displayed. The nice feature in my opinion is that each item added has a few "Collecting" bullet points that can help you. Things like, "Owned" indicating the quantity of a given item in your collection is pretty nice, but the addition of a "Wish List" function as well as a "Trade" list gives the PCDB and its users an invaluable tool for building their collection.

I had a chance to pick Rhu's brain a bit about how this went from a personal tool to a full scale user powered cataloging system and here's some of the things we talked about.

How did the PCDB come to be?

I originally set the website up just so I had somewhere to organise my own collection, I posted about this on the unitedcardists forums in September 2013.

After I showed everyone my own collection, I had a few requests to extend the site to support other peoples collections. After a few months I put the needed features in place, and now I spend any scraps of free time I can find to build new features to help people share their collections online.

Since then the project has had a huge level of support from everyone on the UC forums. The main driving force behind the website has to be ecNate though, he is always quick to give me a friendly nudge when the development on the site is getting a little too slow!

What are some of the goals of the PCDB?

If I'm being honest I couldn't say what the goals of the PCDB are. While I'm currently responsible for building the website I feel like I gave up control of the website a long time ago, this is very much a community driven project, and I always listen to them for new features, even if it does take me a little time to implement them!

The one goal I am certain of is that we're all working towards categorising all of the decks we own, which is definitely not a small task.

My only conditions are that the PCDB is not for profit, purely for fun and will always have any data collected openly and freely available to everyone.

Of course, that hasn't stopped me introducing an optional paid membership feature, where 100% of any donation will go directly to a charity through justgiving. We're currently supporting Oxfam, and I hope this will be a successful feature going forward so we can support a new charity every year.

Since the PCDB went public so to speak, how many images, scans, information and time has gone into it?

We recently celebrated the first birthday of the site by rather embarrassingly forgetting to pay for the domain renewal! During that time though we have had an explosion of content for the website, at the time of writing this we have over 1300 unique decks listed, over 1100 of these decks have had the front of their tuck cases scanned and we have had a total of 2753 images uploaded.

It's definitely come a long way from when I first uploaded my small collection of less than 150 decks, my main challenge just now is updating the website categorisation to accommodate this influx of playing cards! Every day I see new decks that I had never even hear of before, but luckily the community is already working with me to help come up with the most efficient way to restructure the site.

I want to thank Rhu for his time and effort with the Playing Card Data Base, if your looking for a simple yet "Complete" solution to keeping track of your collection, its growth and "Needs" I couldn't recommend the PCDB any more if I tried. It's simple and most of all, completely free. The PCDB is always looking for "Contributors" so if you looking to help, give Rhu a shout via the PCDB site. 

Now go build your personal Playing Card Data Base!!

Beautiful. Baroque. Elegance.

The Limited Obsidian Edition decks are part of the successful White Ornate series. Meticulously designed by Randy Butterfield, these beautiful decks exudes elegance which will elevate the impact of any magic or flourish routine, or add a high roller feel to your poker table.

The Obsidian tuck box is truly mesmerising, crafted from a deep matte black vellum paper. The design has been carefully stamped in Black and Gold foil, giving the box a shimmer and shine. The inside of the tuck is coated in a solid wall of gold foil. 

Here's your chance to WIN a complete set of the White Ornate's! But not just any set, but a complete set of SIGNED White Ornate's... by none other than Randy Butterfield! The set will included one of each un-branded decks in Scarlet, Sapphire, Amethyst, and Emerald. Along with one of each Obsidian versions, Bicycle Branded and Un-Branded, all signed in metallic gold ink, all brought to you from Randy and House of Playing Cards! Also, check out Randy's first solo playing cards project Draconian, which is now available on Kickstarter

The Obsidian decks are available in the standard limited Unbranded version, as well as an even more limited Bicycle version. Available from JP Playing Cards.

We are honored to be able to bring you the first look at what is sure to be one of the most sought after decks in recent history, The 52 Plus Joker Club Deck.

The Club Deck is being offered to attendees of this years 52 Plus Joker Convention being held in Charleston, South Carolina at the Charleston Plaza Hotel. The convention draws a huge following from all corners of the globe and you would be hard pressed to find a larger collection of vintage playing cards and related items under one roof.

52 Plus Joker is headed up by such notable names as world renowned playing card expert Tom Dawson, author of the definitive guide to playing cards "Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Card" which he worked on with his wife Judy, and teacher, author, creator and magician extraordinaire Lee Asher.

This years convention goers will have the unique and enviable opportunity to own the 1st 52 Plus Joker Club Deck. The deck was designed by Jackson Robinson of Kings Wild Project and is being produced by the Expert Playing Card Company. To be one of the 1st to own this magnificent deck all that is required of you is, one, be a member of 52 Plus Joker and, two, be an attendee of the convention.

The deck itself is just amazing, a bright white two piece "Slip Case" accented by silver foil houses the just as spectacular cards. The Slip Case's outer cover is elegant and simple, sporting the number "52" to represent 52 Plus Joker on the front and a completely foiled back that matches the card back design. The inner part of the slip case has a repeating "52" foil design pattern set on a light grey repeating background pattern, the look of the inner slip case is very eye-catching as it's angles hide and reveal the "52" in the design pattern.

The cards themselves are just as impressive with a mirrored and foiled back design of the "52" script. The deck also features a custom Ace of Spades, beautifully rich custom court cards and two custom Jokers depicting the 52 Plus Joker Logo. The Club Deck will also feature a custom numbered seal.

The 52 Plus Joker Club Deck will be available in very limited quantity. The deck will have a print run of ONLY 500 decks available to Club Members who are in attendance at this years convention.

But fear not, non convention goers will have an opportunity of their own to own part of this 1st offering. Once the convention has wrapped up, the remaining supply of the Club Deck will be available to Club Members ONLY on the 52 Plus Joker web site while supplies last. Keep in mind that only 500 of the Club Decks were printed, so they will be limited and most likely not last very long once available....what a better time than NOW to become a member.  Also, later this year Conjuring Arts Research Center will be offering the 52 Plus Joker Deck in a Gold version. The cards are identical to the Club Deck with just a shift in color from Silver to Gold and the deck will be presented in a side-ways tuck constructed of a synthetic water proof paper. The Gold version has the same elegant and simple design as the Club deck and features the same full foil back design on the tuck case, as well as the foil accented "52" pattern on the cards back design.

Needless to say, either deck will be an amazing addition to any collection.

If you would like to find out more about 52 Plus Joker and how to become a member, please visit their website for more details and information. You can also visit the Club's forum, the Discourse at, and share and converse with other collectors about the hobby we all know and love.

I hope everyone enjoyed this sneak peak to what is sure to be THE talked about deck for quite some time.

Born in Hong Kong, Alvin Cheung considers himself pretty ordinary, someone you might just pass by or bump into while wandering around China Town. In Alvin’s earlier days in High School he would spend much of his spare time creating Forum signatures and banners. With his creativity in high gear, Alvin started reading and studying every on-line tutorial he could find on Photo Shop and Illustrator and worked hard to keep improving his design skills.

Alvin decided to head to the United Kingdom to pursue his education and obtain his University degree. He studied Interior Design but his passion was always in graphic design.

“I have been a freelance designer since graduating, because I do not like the idea of working 9-5 for someone else at a fixed income. My dream is to build a company and start from there. I knew from heart it will be a hard journey, but the passion for design gets me motivated.”

Alvin has also been fascinated with card tricks for as long as he can remember and would go to magic shows in his area regularly. With these two passions in hand, and his creativity pushing him forward, Alvin moved forward to bring these to passions together.

“My dream is to be able to produce a deck of cards that will be used around the world to perform magic by all sorts of magicians.”

Alvin has taken that first step in his dream by producing a beautiful deck of playing cards inspired by the ancient four beasts of Chinese mythology. The deck is called SiShou and is currently live on Kickstarter. Alvin took a small break from the campaign to share a little about the project with us.

What inspired the SiShou deck?
Coming from a Chinese background, I looked into the stories of Chinese mythology. I read books, articles and watched videos about it. This inspired me to create the SiShou - Four Beasts deck. With coincidence there are also four suits in a deck. This is how I implemented each beast onto a different suit.

A little history about the myth, each beast is supposed to be a protector for part of the compass, where the Black tortoise is North, Azure dragon is East, Vermillion Bird is South, and White tiger is West. The tuck box was designed based on the placing of each beast. This is also evident in stone carvings dated 2000 years ago.

Asian themes lend themselves well to a vibrant colors, what inspired the color pallet of SiShou?
At first the deck was intended to be in a traditional red. But in order to appeal to a younger audience, I decided to have it in a teal color. The plan is to choose a pallet that appeals to card collectors and yet it does not become too different for regular poker players. 

Could you walk us through your “Creative” process, do you have a routine when designing a deck or individual card?
The creative process always starts at one single point, which is the inspiration. In this project, I took the design elements of actual stone carvings with the beasts on and converted it onto the deck. I then research on my theme and chose to use the traditional Chinese painting style that were printed on pottery for the beast designs.

For my routine when designing, I always close my eyes and imagine a complete design in my head first. This allows me to then draft out a concept that can be developed further. Once I have a draft, I would then refine the design and add details onto it to create a more intricate design. 

Have any changes been made from the original design concept?
There have been a lot of changes from the original design concept. The faces are different, the courts have been changed into beasts rather than having the human design, and the tuck box have been improved.

I also carefully chose the right color for the box to create a nice balance between modern and traditional colors.

When designing this deck, did you have a specific “group” in mind, or was it designed to cater to a wide variety of card aficionados?
At first I wanted to target everyone, but that did not seem to work in the first campaign. Right now I am trying to aim at 3 groups, card collectors, magicians, and poker players. I do not know how well it will be but the thought process of the design have been made to cater all three target audiences.

Can supporters of your project expect any surprises or “Stretch Goals” during this campaign?
I always love to surprise. It took me a year and a half to “surprise” everyone by restarting this project. If the campaign goes well, I would definitely add a few freebies into pledges. As for stretch goals, I would be aiming at including embossed tuck box, color interior, metallic ink, and maybe a different color version.

What are some of your favorite decks or designers?
I must say the one that inspired me to start this project was Tyler of Pedale Design. I really like his style of art with clean lines. I also love the inking technique of Jackson Robinson, a very talented guy.

We want to thank Alvin for his time and consideration. The SiShou deck has an amazing design and unique color pallet which lends to its concept very well. If you haven't already, head on over to the Kickstarter campaign and help Alvin's vision become a reality. You can also follow the progress and keep up on any future projects by following Alvin's Facebook page. We want to with Alvin luck on his project and are looking forward to more of his concepts and designs in the future. 

You may have heard of Pocono Modern, but maybe not realize that Playing Cards aren’t their only creative outlet. Pocono Modern actually has an interestingly creative company, specializing in a wide variety of services. Pocono Modern offers architectural services as well as beautiful home furnishings down to Vintage Art prints. Kraig Kalashian is an architect and designer who is also the owner of the company. Joe Morelli’s background is in sculpture and graphic design, who received his MFA from the University of Massachusetts. It was Kraig’s idea to produce a midcentury modern deck of playing cards and in May of 2014 the Pocono Modern Playing Cards were launched on Kickstarter and found great success, not only reaching its funding goal, but exceeding it.

“Kraig and I simply love playing cards and we love midcentury modern graphic design. We’ve been wanting to create fresh, well-designed and functional decks of cards for some time, and are so pleased with all of the feedback we’ve been getting for these.”

With that success, Pocono Modern brings its second deck to Kickstarter, The Retro Deck. Inspired by the simplicity and elegance of midcentury modern design, The Retro Deck is available in two colors and features some truly striking design and graphic elements. The project is currently live on Kickstarter and will be available until November 3rd. Kickstarter campaigns are always hectic, but Joe Morelli was nice enough to take a small break from the campaign and answer a few questions about The Retro Deck and its development.

Did the experience with the Pocono deck give you a better vision of how to approach the Retro Deck?
We learned so much from the design of previous deck. For both the Woodland Deck and the Retro Deck, we looked at hundreds of historical and current designs, but no amount of research can beat the dialogue that happens from a Kickstarter campaign between the card enthusiasts and the designers. Particularly, aspects of functionality and playability were the first things we considered with this new deck.

Do you have a routine when coming up with a design concept?
Aside from hours of research, we have stacks of card mockups that were printed and cut at full-scale, held in our hands, fanned out, etc. Since a playing card is as much an object as a design composition, it’s important to get a feel for the scale and how each card relates to another.

What was the inspiration and motivation behind the concept of the Retro Deck?
Where the Woodland Deck feels more bright and playful, this new Retro Deck is darker, relatively minimal, and more sleek and mid-century modern. We wanted to explore the clean, hard geometry of the era a bit further and create a deck that was just as bold, yet more elegant. Sticking to people for the court cards in this deck allowed us to get even deeper into playing card history and lore. It was a lot of fun reinterpreting certain details that have now been in playing cards for decades, and in some cases, centuries.

Most designers get very excited about an idea, what excites you about the Retro Deck?
Kraig and I both are diehard fans of midcentury modern graphic and industrial design, and so any opportunity we have to design a product that harkens back to the timelessness and elegance of that era is very exciting. Also, the challenge of balancing the design aesthetic with the need for functionality is a fun, indeed.

Was it challenging to maintain some of the “Standard” deck features with the design style of the Retro Deck?
We wanted the pips to be vertical and elegant, and so it was a challenge to arrange them at an appropriate scale on the number cards. Also, with the colored field on the faces of the cards, it’s very important to keep a good amount of contrast with the indices. Precise Pantone colors are being selected for this purpose, as opposed to a CMYK print.

Could you tell us about the two variations available for the Retro deck?
In the end, we liked both the Light version of the Deck and the dark too much to choose any one, and felt that this design would best be presented as a set. There are merits to both versions.

What are some of your favorite decks or designers?
Kraig and I both have our favorites, and there are so many amazing designs that we’ve both started collecting. Currently we’re loving the Federal 52 Deck, The Boardwalk deck, and the Draplin Design co. "Thick Lines” deck.

We want to thank Joe and Pocono Modern for sharing some information and their time, if you haven’t checked out The Reto Deck, you can check it out on Kickstarter where the project is currently LIVE! You can also visit Pocono Moderns website and check out all their other wonderful products and services.

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