Encarded is a staple in the playing card community. It didn't take them long to get there thanks to releases like Aurum. Aurum was launched on Kickstarter in October of 2012 for early supporters and then released to the masses (5,000) shortly after. The deck comes in a few editions with the flagship deck being the purple "Sovereign" edition (4,500 released) and a special "White Gold" edition also being released in very limited quantities (500). Both decks will be reviewed here on TuckCase.com in this post. There was also a very, very limited release of 90 Aurum Laser Cut edition decks.
To get started here is what Encarded.com has to say about Aurum:
Aurum is designed to be intricate, elegant and fit for the Venetian royalty that inspired it. Every card is intricately designed and features multiple metallic inks and was also carefully crafted to be "purposefully imperfect." The court figures are all based on the familiar Bicycle court but were painstakingly redrawn to have many subtle imperfections and asymmetric features.
Name: Aurum Sovereign and Aurum White Gold
Release Date: October/November 2012
Stock: Bee Casino Stock
Finish: Magic Finish
Colors: Deep purples, Gold
Before we go in depth, most are probably wondering what makes Aurum Sovereign different from the Aurum White Gold playing cards. The only difference in these two decks is with the tuck cases or card boxes. Sovereign features the purple tuck and White Gold features the pearlescent white tuck. As stated previously, Aurum Sovereign was released with 4,500 decks and the Aurum White Gold edition only released 500. The actual playing cards are not different.
On to the review...
The strongest element that both Aurum decks have over every other deck released in the playing card industry are their tuck cases. Aurum's tuck case features gold metallic inks, embossing, custom colors, pearlescent finish (White Gold edition) and custom diecut on the back.
Both tuck case designs features an intricate gold swirling centerpiece design reminiscent of the design/patterns on a Venetian mask. This centerpiece design wraps around the front to the right side of the tuck case, which forces you to examine the entire case. You are eventually greeted with the unique diecut element on the back revealing the inside of the deck and the actual playing card. While a lot of today's modern decks feature metallic inks and embossing, Aurum is taken an extra step further by adding the custom diecut element.
Although an incredible design style, the diecut feature does leave the actual cards more exposed to the elements so be mindful of that. If you put this deck in your pocket make sure the edges of the diecut do not get caught on anything before you take it out. You may want to use a card clip if you are going to take these over a friend's house for a weekend poker game.
The White Gold Edition features the white pearlescent finish as seen here:
Once you can get yourself away from admiring the tuck case, you will open the tuck case to a deck of 56 cards. The standard 52, two jokers and 2 gaff cards. The back design is a white bordered, purple back with the Venetian swirl design in the center creating the two way design. There is a continuous line that swirls in the background of the cards. This is more of a secondary but up-close design feature found while examining the cards beyond a glance. The background is then bordered by a gold line with an inside shadow. The line work combined with the border creates a depth to the cards that would not be there if it was just a solid purple background to white border.
Notice in the photo below you can see the swirls within the back design of the card:
The Ace of Spades features a spade in the form of what looks like a Venetian fan. The spade shape is in black with the more intricate design elements of the fan in gold. The spade pops out as the primary design element, while the gold creates the depth and ties the entire design in with the Venetian theme. A downside to the Ace of Spades is that the company's name is located on the card in an illegible small font in gold ink. Since the Ace of Spades also features the continuous line work in the background, it fights with the name. Ultimately, the name ends up getting lost.
The court cards are an interesting and exciting bunch. Although the court cards are in the Anglo-American style as your standard cards are, they are completely redrawn and recolored. If you look closely on each court card you will notice that there are minor differences in the faces, hands and dress. All of these differences make these court cards somewhat flawed but it is not a bad thing by any means. According to Paul this subtle design element was intentional. The differences just add to the amount of detail Paul puts into these cards. To the untrained eye, one will not notice a thing but if you are really paying attention to the detail you will be pleasantly surprised by this differences Paul decided to add.
With that, since this deck is inspired by Venetian royalty it would have been exciting to see some of the Venetian masks incorporated in with the court cards. Imagine a King of Spades designed to look like a Medico della peste or Plague doctor!
It should be noted that the court cards have somewhat of a wax-like or foggy look to them when compared to other standard court cards. It could be the line work + the matte like appearance due to the finish/stock + the color combos + the grayish background. At any rate, this is not a bad thing but it does not add to the design. It just exists on the cards. With that, the cards are not wax-like by touch or handling.
The number cards were given all new custom pips as seen in the image below:
The borders on the pips utilize the same type of line work found on the background on each and every card. This takes the pips from being somewhat standard recolored pips to pips with depth and character. These pips may even make you want to hold onto a 2-7 off suit starting hand in Texas Hold 'Em. Actually, it may be exaggerated to say these cards will mess up your poker game (that is on you) but it proves the point that these cards are something to be admired. Just make sure you do it when you don't have money on the line.
Here is a close up image of the continuous line work found on the background of each and every card:
The Jokers feature two different colored Venetian Jokers that you may find at the Carnival of Venice. This is the biggest tie in to the theme of the deck given that not only do you see the line work but you will also see the elaborate masks that have been famous since the Renaissance. A very nice touch and a great deck to use if you plan to use the Jokers.
The cards handle much like a standard Bee Deck of playing cards. These cards are great for playing poker and various card games as they stood the test of time after many shuffles, dealing and handling. They seemed a bit stiff at first but after a few passes at handling they become more comfortable but they never lost form.
Notes on Encarded's Aurum Playing Cards:
- Aurum is the latin term for gold.
- The Carnival of Venice was actually banned in the late 1700's by the King of Austria. [source]
- This is Paul Carpenter's second deck with Encarded. The first deck was the Tendril deck, inspired by the rain forests of Costa Rica.
Final Assessment: Encarded's Aurum is hands down a beautifully crafted deck with subtle elements for the designer type or for anyone that appreciates great design and detail. In other words, this deck holds more than what the average eye can point out. It is simple, yet detailed and elaborate. It is historical, yet in style. Designers should get this deck for inspiration, poker players should bring this out to spice a game up and collectors will want this deck for not only it's limited releases but for it's total beauty. Encarded is hot right now and they are only getting hotter. Aurum is the deck to have and without it, your collection is incomplete.
Final Score: 9.7
Don't forget use code: ENC7Y52 at Encarded.com for 10% off. Aurum is currently in stock.