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Review: Bicycle Leaf Back Playing Cards


I know this is a little out of season but I wanted to do my first deck review on One Handed Cut on the 2012 release of the leaf back playing card deck for a few particular reasons:

  1. I love the history of the deck.

  2. There are a few mistakes.

  3. There is no guarantee on the cards like most Bicycle issued decks.   

Let's get down to business...

2012 Leaf Back Playing Cards


Name: Bicycle Leaf Back
Company: Bicycle/USPCC
Release Date: July 2012
Stock: Standard card stock
Finish:  Air-Cushion™ finish
Colors: Green and Festive Red Backs/Standard Four-Color Fronts
Face: Standard
Size: Standard

First off, I really like the design of the Leaf Back simply because it was previously done many years ago. I like when history creeps its way back into the present. According to Bicycle's website, the Leaf Back playing card deck is a reprint of a previous deck released in 1947.  I am a big fan of vintage things so the fact that a deck almost 60 years old made its way back into production is awesome. I love when companies don't forget their history! With that said, if this were a brand new design I probably wouldn't be into it as much or at all. The design is nice but I would write it off as a holiday gimmick. 

The 1947 release was printed in a blue and standard red colored decks instead of the 2012 updated green and festive red colored decks.

1947 Leaf Back Playing Cards Red (Taken from http://www.Jimknapp.com)
1947 Leaf Back Playing Cards Red (Taken from http://www.Jimknapp.com)


1947 Leaf Back Playing Cards Red (Taken from http://www.Jimknapp.com)
1947 Leaf Back Playing Cards Blue (Taken from http://www.Jimknapp.com)


2012 Leaf Back Playing Cards Design
2012 Updated Leaf Back Colors

Other than the change in deck color, the design stayed the same. I welcome the change but would have loved to see a blue leaf back deck as well. I speculate that the folks at Bicycle decided that holiday colors would have a larger appeal. THINK STOCKING STUFFERS! This color change also helps the deck differentiate from the Standard Bicycle Playing Cards that are readily available everywhere cards are sold. I would have liked to see USPCC incorporate the leaf design in with the Ace of Spades or change the colors of the court cards to reflect the festive/holiday colors.

While USPCC did a great job recreating the classic leaf back look, I was unfortunate  enough to purchase a green deck that had a few printing/cutting errors. The red deck did not have any errors. Notice in the photo below the pips are almost cut off of the Seven of Spades and the Two of Diamonds.

Bicycle Leaf Back Playing Card Mistake

I suppose I can't be too upset by this considering there is a guarantee on every deck. However, when I looked for the guarantee on the second Joker's face, where it is traditionally printed, I came up with nothing. This deck has no guarantee on the box or cards. After noticing this I became skeptical. I was curious to think that maybe the guarantee was left off for a reason. Are these unmarked factory seconds? Did Walgreen's (place of purchase) buy unmarked factory seconds from USPCC? Given the high standard USPCC holds themselves to, I would think that any "factory second" would be marketed as such. Unfortunately, according to this forum Bicycle seconds have been known to hit the shelves as regular decks. This is certainly a topic to research further as most people buy their cards at Walgreens, Target, Wal-mart and other national retailers. It would be a shame if most people were buying seconds without knowing it. I will conclude this topic by writing that this is my first faulty deck from a big-box retailer so it could just be a one off that made it through the QA team.

Even though I purchased a faulty deck, the leaf back playing cards fan great and shuffle just as good as any standard stock/air-cushion deck.

Notes on the Leaf Back Playing Card Deck:

  • The 1947 Leaf Back is not the first time Bicycle incorporated a leaf design in their card design. It is said that an "Oak Leaf" design was one of the first ever printed Playing cards decks from Bicycle dating back to the 1800's. 

  • I will be sending my faulty deck to USPCC despite it not having a guarantee on the Joker.

  • I was unable to find a picture of the 1947 Tuck Case to compare to the 2012 Tuck Case.

  • The Leaf Backs do not include a guarantee like most Bicycle playing cards.

  • The play action is typical of a standard bicycle deck.

Final assessment: Although I love the history that come with these decks, that is where it stops for me. I was disappointed in the mistakes on the green deck and I am skeptical it didn't have a guarantee like most Bicycle card decks have. I will probably buy another green deck just to have a better quality green deck in my collection with no mistakes (hopefully I don't purchase another faulty deck). Overall I think this makes a great stocking stuffer for friends and loved ones, collectors should try to add these to their collection simply because of the history and casual card players will definitely have fun with these cards over the holidays. 

Score: 7/10


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