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Reviewer EndersGame
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Murphy's Magic is a wholesale magic dealer that was formed by Mark Murphy in 1998. They have an enormous range of magic products which they sell in bulk quantities to magic dealers around the world, and they have a huge network of contacts in the retail industry. Their website is a terrific resource with tons of information about their products, which include all things magical: magic kits, magic tricks, card tricks, DVDs, books, gags & jokes, puzzles, juggling, playing cards, accessories, and more.

But given my love for playing card games, performing card magic, and collecting card decks, what really interests me is the fact that Murphy's Magic also produces their own playing cards. They have developed and produced multiple decks of playing cards over the years. In this article, I'll be covering four of their newest releases, all of which are available from Murphy's Magic dealers and retailers that sell magic supplies or custom playing cards. Besides the colourful and artistic Mondrian Broadway Playing Cards and Untitled Playing Cards, there's the thoughtful and unique Infinitas Playing Cards, and the latest version of the very popular Cherry Casino Playing Cards (Tahoe Blue).


Untitled Playing Cards

I must confess that the the paradoxical title of this deck intrigued me. Untitled Playing Cards - really? After all, by ascribing a title, even one that is non-descriptive like "untitled", these playing cards are by definition titled, thereby creating a pleasant paradoxical contradiction in terms! And what kind of creator gives the title "Untitled" to a deck of cards that he's undoubtedly spent hours working on? Is this an indication of laziness on the part of the designer, that he couldn't come up with anything better? Be honest - that's what you were thinking too, right?! Or is it a sign of cleverness, of a truly creative mind at work, making a statement with this cryptic name?


Laziness or cleverness? I think it is the latter. Because the creator, Adam Borderline, is a true artist, and he's not going to do things on a whim. In his words, "I've always had a fascination with abstract art, it's raw and unconventional. I really wanted to portray that in this deck. Untitled Playing Cards offers a freedom from constraint, pursue your creativity." Now it's all starting to make sense. The ambivalence of the word "Untitled" captures precisely this sense of abstraction: the undefined, the unnamed, the unconventional.

Adam's own artistic credentials are well established, and he's recognized particularly for his skills in photography. Head to his Instagram account to see some stunning examples of his imaginative and creative photography - unsurprisingly, many recent images feature the Untitled deck. He's well respected for his skills with "liquid card photography", and his #fluidcards series of photographs are superb work that really deserves to be checked out and admired. These typically showcase playing cards with liquids, like the image below.


As the side of tuck box of the Untitled boldly proclaims: Fluidcards. This expression captures the essence of Adam's photography, but it also captures the very nature of cardistry, which is all about motion, and thus is indeed fluid.

But Adam wants us to stretch our boundaries, and head deeper into abstraction. Thus vibrant colours adorn the tuck box, in a stunning and engaging blur of colour that picks up the effervescent design of the card backs. It's a one-way design, it's fresh, lively, colourful, vibrant, and compelling, but it's also completely abstract. But that doesn't matter at all, because when cards like these are in motion, they are all about moving colour and patterns, and in that context we typically lose our sense of distinct shapes and boundaries anyway. This is a deck that captures that concept beautifully.


My only concern is that due to the one-way design, the blur of colours on the card backs can at times become a confused slurry rather than an orderly array. But isn't that what abstract art is all about from time to time, and doesn't that just give this deck even more potential in the right hands?


The card faces are quite standard, but there is customization in the usual places we expect as a bare minimum with a custom deck. Our lead character, the Ace of Spades, unsurprisingly, is an exuberant ambassador of Adam's blaze of abstract colour.


But more surprises await, especially if we parade through the Spades last of all. Every single Spade card has one pip that has been decorated with a splash from the card backs, instantly injecting some welcome life and colour to the face cards, while still ensuring a relatively standard look for the rest of the deck.


But there's a fresh approach to the court cards as well. By eliminating the usual blue from a traditional deck, the overall palette is no longer garish and noisy, but has a much more pleasant and settled feel, that feels mature and balanced rather than juvenile. As I indicated at the outset, what we have in our hands here is not the work of a lazy man, but rather of an artist who has given careful thought to all his aesthetics, even in an abstract world.


Our Joker friends have come to the abstraction party entirely, by featuring what seems to be a primitive yet carefully orchestrated palette of paint splashes, making a bold yet visually satisfying picture of the abstract.


It's little wonder that all this artistry has been paired with quality printing, courtesy of one of the very best in the industry: United States Playing Card Company. With the usual air cushion embossing ensuring an optimal level of friction for smooth and consistent handling, combined with a thin crush stock for softness, this is a deck that deserves to be felt as much as looked at. Cardists will love the flashing colours, while magicians will be delighted that the familiar card faces work equally well in the world of card magic. And this deck will be equally at home in a game of poker or cards.


If all this sounds like your thing, then maybe it's time to make the abstract become real, by putting a deck of Untitled Playing Cards into your hand. Well done Adam Borderline!


See a cardistry demo with the deck here, and the official trailer from Murphy's Magic here:

Acknowledgement: Most of the images of the Untitled deck by Adam Borderline himself, and are used with his permission. To learn more about his outstanding work, visit his official website, or admire the content he posts on social media at his Instagram and Facebook pages.


Usable: Many custom playing cards that are published are especially geared towards collectors, and end up remaining in shrink-wrap or collecting dust. That's not what you'll find happening with these decks from Murphy's Magic, because it's obvious that these are decks of playing cards that are designed to be used. Whether in the hands of a cardist, magician, or card gamer, these decks are definitely created with the idea of people using them and playing with them. Not only do they look beautiful, but they are also very functional. Even though they all have some degree of customization, it is not to the point that the cards are rendered unplayable or unrecognizable to the average person.

Magician-friendly: Some of these decks are especially ideal for use by magicians. That's evident by the fact that additional cards for use as gaffs have been included with the several decks, such as the Cherry Casino Playing Cards. The pips on this deck in particular have a hint of customization with metallic ink for the maroon colours, which adds enough to make the deck look sophisticated, yet without making the entire deck totally customized and unfamiliar.

Cardistry-friendly: Some of these decks are especially ideal for use by card flourishers. The bright colours and inspiring designs of the Mondrian Broadway deck and Untitled deck will immediately grab the attention of cardists, who will see its potential for all kinds of flourishes, with the possibility these offer to create hynoptic moves. The styles of these decks that lends themselves particularly well for cardistry. While traditional pips and colours could distract from the movement of the card faces, these decks have card faces that promote and accentuate flourishes due to their creative design.

Wide range: One thing I also appreciate about decks created by Murphys Magic is the wide range of diverse styles they offer. Some of their playing cards offer a high degree of customization while remaining fully playable and usable for card magic, while others are geared completely to cardistry, and yet others again are more traditional and conservative in style. If there's a style you're looking for or that suits your needs, they're almost certain to have something that will work for you, given the wide selection of decks they've created and that they offer.

Card quality: All the decks I've seen from Murphy's Magic have all been of good quality. The playing cards of all the decks featured in this review are printed by United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), who have earned a solid reputation as an industry leader through producing cards under their Bicycle brand. Their cards are consistently of solid quality, and feature excellent handling, due to their air cushion style embossing and magic finish/coating. As a result they handle smoothly, shuffle well, and work well for spreads and fans.

Affordable: With a recommended retail price of around US$10-15, these decks are not only practical, but they're also in a reasonable price range that makes them a more attractive for people looking for a customized deck that handles well.



So are any of these decks of playing cards for you? If you're looking for practical playing cards that you can actually use for playing card games, performing card magic, or for card flourishing, you'll almost certainly find something that fits the bill. With good looks and good handling, these decks continue the solid contribution that Murphy's Magic has made to the custom playing card market, and I am happy to recommend them.


The decks reviewed above are all available at your favourite Murphy’s Magic retailer. Want to learn more? Murphy's Magic:

Here are direct links for all the decks featured in this review:
- Cherry Casino (Tahoe Blue):
- Mondrian Broadway
- Infinitas:
- Untitled:

BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame - click here to see all my pictorial reviews: => Magic Reviews <==> Playing Card Reviews <==> Board Game Reviews <==

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