If you've ever wanted to try your hand at magic, card tricks are a great place to start. Not only are there plenty to choose from in a robust array of difficulties, but all you need to get started is a three-dollar Bicycle deck from your local pharmacy.
But why be ordinary when you can add some real drama to your efforts with these incredible cards? Even if you don't have the patience to put in the many, many hours it takes to become truly deft at sleight of hand, the following cards are affordable works of art that everyone can appreciate.
Here's one for the New York lovers. Made from discarded NY Metro subway cards, this deck also pays homage to New York landmarks by working them into the face cards. The King of Hearts grips the Brooklyn Bridge, the Queen of Clubs hosts an elephant from the Bronx Zoo, and the Jack of Diamonds can tell you when to catch your train at Grand Central. Given that they're made from MetroCards, they're less than ideal for practicing magic, but as regular playing cards, they're great.
Buy the Metro Deck
The Legend of Zelda
It's dangerous to go alone, so take this deck with you. It's tough to say what's more appealing about these cards inspired by The Legend of Zelda: the Goron face cards or the Triforce, Heart Container, Rupee, and Sword that serve as the suits. Available with red, blue, or metallic gold backs. What, no green?
Buy the Legend of Zelda Deck
Marked Vintage 1800 Bicycle Deck
This gorgeous deck has three things going for it: it looks like it's an antique you found in your grandma's attic, it comes in either a red or blue back, and *whisper* it's marked. The card backs have hidden marks that let you tell cards apart, seemingly by magic. Probably not the best to use for poker night, though, unless you don't really like your friends all that much.
Buy the Vintage 1800 Bicycle Deck
charity: water Deck
They're not flashy or tricky, but these cards do something other cards can't: save lives. 100% of the proceeds from the charity: water deck go to fund clean water projects. charity: water has provided clean water for 7 million people in 24 countries. As their site says: "access to clean water means education, income and health - especially for women and kids." Maybe buy two.
Buy the charity: water Deck
The cards of the Porcelain Deck from Conjuring Arts are stunning to begin with, but they also are printed with a raised ink that allows you to actually feel the designs. According to the description, the extra tactility doesn't adversely impact handling, making these a particularly beautiful option for your cardistry habits.
Buy the Porcelain Deck
The Minim Deck from Joe Doucet plays with the question of how much information you can remove from a card while leaving it useable. Turns out, just about everything. These ultra-minimalist cards are available in either black or white, and are so sophisticated they even elevate games of Go Fish.
Buy the Minim Deck