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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Everything old is new again » » Fox Lake Cards (25 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Mike M
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Anyone else remember the old days when 90% of all gimmicked decks sold in magic stores were bridge sized Fox Lake cards? It was immpossible to find poker sized Bicycles, I guess because it was cheaper to use the Fox.

It seemed the only place to even get a regular deck of Fox Lakes was at a magic store.
Anatole
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I remember those days well. Wild Card was originally sold only as bridge-sized Fox Lake cards. I seem to remember, too, that sometimes the Fox Lake special cards had a slightly off-white color that made them stick out like a sore thumb if we tried to use them in a regular deck. That's why I started making my own doubleface/doubleback cards by splitting the backs and faces off cards and then re-gluing them with rubber cement. I had the process down to an art and science based on techniques I learned for mounting photos onto matboard.(It was nice to be able to take a skill known mostly to card manipulators and use it to fool the guys who only did tricks with gimmicked cards.)

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
Dick Christian
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We real "old timers" remember when the Fox Lake design sold exclusively at magic shops was in common use as "Aviator" cards when bridge was the most common card game in the US -- almost everyone, both men and women, played and every major city newspaper had a regular weekly if not daily bridge column -- and poker (either draw or stud -- "Texas hold 'em" didn't exist) was played almost exclusively by men and only for gambling. "Aviators" were far more common and familiar than Bicycle, Hoyle, Bee, Maverick or any of the others.
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Bill Palmer
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John Snyder had a special agreement with USPCCo. to sell him Aviator bridge cards in his own proprietary Fox Lake™ boxes. Ronald Haines basically purchased this agreement. Magicians who had a certain amount of "snap" would either make their own gaffs or have people who knew how to do it make them.
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Donal Chayce
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My first invisible deck was a Fox Lake deck. I got it at the Main Street Magic Shop in Disneyland when I was just 10 years old. Even though I was just a young 'un, I knew enough to buy an Aviator deck when I got back home so I could put the ID in a regular box.
Michael Baker
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I still have several gaffed decks and random Fox Lake and Aviator cards hiding in my "vault". I suspect most of them are probably clumping like used cat litter by now. Smile
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Wizard of Oz
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This is a great thread, as it brings back so many memories of glass display cases in magic shops, stacked with Fox Lake packet tricks. I think this is one advancement in magic that we can be proud of...Bicycle as the new standard.
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saysold1
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I believe I have a rainbow deck that was Fox Lake - I like them as they also remind me of Disneyland and local Magic stores in L.A. as a kid.

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DomKabala
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I still have some packet tricks of the '70s and they are made with Fox Lake cards. I learned to do most of the basic sleights (Classic Pass, Charlier Cut, etc.)with Bridge sized cards. They worked fine for me as I have small hands.

Then the '80s rolled along and I had to relearn everything with Poker cards...I can't do a Charlier Cut anymore though and my Pass is, well to put it mildly, impassable Smile Smile

Cardamagically,
Dom Smile Smile
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Stevethomas
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I have a deck with "Made For John Snyder" printed on the box.

Steve
sethb
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Now that you mention it, I have a Fox Lake Svengali Deck that's about 40 years old, and it's resting comfortably in my magic drawer along with other assorted whatnot.

I'm pitching Svengali Decks now, and recently took a look at the old Fox Lake deck. I was amazed to see that almost every key card was a different length! It was as if the deck had been handmade (but not all that well). Of course, it still worked just fine anyway, but the pitch decks of today from FUN Inc. or Loftus are much more precisely cut, and some of them even have rounded corners, which the Fox Lake deck did not.

But I'm not complaining -- if it wasn't for the Fox Lake deck, I might never have been introduced to the wonderful world of magic. SETH
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Merc Man
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I adore Fox Lake cards and still use them!

Their 'Bridge Size' makes them more acceptable in the UK where, despite the massive interest now in Poker, Bridge Size decks are still primarily used (Carta Mundi Stratus, and Waddingtons Number 1 are still the most popular brands sold in shops).

Unfortunately, I'm on my last brick of Fox Lakes. The current Aviator Bridge are, by comparison, a joke. A brick of these I purchased were off-cut and extremely flimsy due to their extremely cheap card stock. Well done USPCC - I NEVER experienced such slap dash quality when they were produced by Haines!

Fox Lakes were also excellent for 'roughing'. I've still got a Brainwave deck via International Magic and an Invisible Deck via Ken Brooke - both purchased in the late 70's and both working like new - I've never had to re-treat either.
Barry Allen

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Anatole
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MAGIC Magazine's article a few years ago about Channing Pollock stated "One summer, while working labeling bottles in the judge's wine tasting booth at the California State Fair, he noticed a short, swarthy man by the name of El Martin gathering crowds by pitching Svengali Decks. Channing stood in awe for the next several hours as El Martin dazzled everyone with a simple deck of cards that impossibly changed faces. This was much more visual than the crude gambler's card trick he learned in the Navy. Channing bought a Svengali deck and was hooked." I wonder if it was a Fox Lake deck. Interesting, too, is the observation that although purists might prefer the Dunbury Delusion trick because it doesn't use gimmicked cards, Channing appreciated the impact of tricks that could only be done with a gimmicked deck. I think Lewis Ganson pointed that out in one of his Routined Manipulation volumes.

It would have been interesting to see what nuances Channing might have added as he developed tricks with the deck. I think all magic shop demonstrators probably added an effect or two to their demo routine that wasn't in the list of tricks provided in the instructions that was either in the "50 Tricks with a Svengali Deck" book or that we made up ourselves.

I loved Aviator cards. When Bicycle cards came out with that light plastic coating finish, they were kind of slippery and sometimes bowed. Aviators were closer to the old air cushion finish and perfectly flat. They were also great for the old gag I learned at a Don Lawton lecture using a wooden coat hanger.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
Mowee
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Yup Fox Lakes were my first invisible deck and I still have a Cut deck in them. In the 70s I graduated to Tally Ho and loved their feel....now, I am rearming with Bicycles. Ah the world continues to change.
Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2010-10-23 07:36, Merc Man wrote:
I adore Fox Lake cards and still use them!

Their 'Bridge Size' makes them more acceptable in the UK where, despite the massive interest now in Poker, Bridge Size decks are still primarily used (Carta Mundi Stratus, and Waddingtons Number 1 are still the most popular brands sold in shops).

Unfortunately, I'm on my last brick of Fox Lakes. The current Aviator Bridge are, by comparison, a joke. A brick of these I purchased were off-cut and extremely flimsy due to their extremely cheap card stock. Well done USPCC - I NEVER experienced such slap dash quality when they were produced by Haines!

Fox Lakes were also excellent for 'roughing'. I've still got a Brainwave deck via International Magic and an Invisible Deck via Ken Brooke - both purchased in the late 70's and both working like new - I've never had to re-treat either.


Haines never actually "produced" those cards. They were all printed at the USPCCo plant, that is all of the regular Fox Lake cards were. The blank faces and backs came from USPCCo that way, as well. I'm fairly sure the double facers were printed that way by USPCCo, as well.

They were printed on standard linen finish USPCCo card stock.

Haines did their own roughing work. I was there once when they decided to do a run of Brainwave decks. They had an amazing system for holding the cards. However, when I saw them do the work, they were using poker sized cards.

Generally speaking, unless you have terribly dirty hands or you are working in terribly dirty conditions, there is no reason that a rough and smooth deck should not last you for many, many years. I have decks that I roughed myself 25 - 30 years ago that still work fine.

The secret to keeping them functioning properly (other than working with clean hands) Smile is to clean the cards from time to time. Use a worn-out but clean silk. Polish the "smooth" surfaces of the cards with it. This will remove any grime or dust that has built up on the smooth surfaces.

The source of the maintenance info is Eric Lewis.
"The Swatter"

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Anatole
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I never understood the difference between "linen finish" and "air cushion finish," although I generally preferred the air cushion.

Speaking of air... With cheaper bridge cards (the kind with puppy dog and flower pictures on the back), I used to be able to do the trick where you drop the deck from a height of about two feet above the table top, and the top card would flip face up. I got it down to a knack so that it looked like the face down deck just landed on the table and the top card magically turned itself face up. I combined it with shuffling the four aces into the deck and making them reappear using the air pressure effect. No need to throw the deck; just drop it.A similar but less reliable effect could be accomplished by tossing the deck sideways onto a table cloth so that they spread ribbon-like, but the selected card would flip face up and land in the middle of the spread.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
Merc Man
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Thanks for the info Bill - as the Fox Lake card cases state 'Haines House of Cards' I believed them to be the actual manufacturer.

That said, the fact remains that the current USPCC Aviator Bridge decks are absolutely woeful. the printing is often completely offset and the card stock is so thin they warp beyond belief (and we are hardly known for a humid climate in England! Smile ) - making them pretty useless for many sleights.

Then again, the debate around USPCC's quality control (or rather, the lack of it) seems to be a constant topic of debate. In my view, they seem to be focussing upon price rather than quality - and that's a great shame.

Meanwhile, the quality of most Carta Mundi decks I have seen has been exceptional - and they sell for around the same price as a Bicycle deck. Unfortunately. most don't lend themselves favourably to card sleights!
Barry Allen

"The Rules of the Sleight-of-Hand Artist, are three and all others are vain; the first and second are 'practice', and the third one is 'practice again'.

Edward Victor 1936
Bill Palmer
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That's because the quality of the edges and corners of Carta Mundi cards is not up to snuff.

Re: Humidity in the UK -- you are joking, aren't you?
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Wizard of Oz
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Speaking of Haines...what a wonderful place. If you are in that area of Ohio, do yourself a favor and visit. It's like going back in time.

Upon my last visit - probably 2 years ago - I needed a couple of shimmed Bicycle cards. They didn't have them in stock, so they asked, "Can you wait a minute?" And they went into the next room where the workshop is, and made them. Brilliant, old school customer service.
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Merc Man
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Bill - I can't fault the cut of Carta Mundi Stratus Bridge - if you haven't seen a pack then drop me a PM and I will send you a deck. Personally, I don't like them because of the linen finish.

Blimey, compared with some Bicycle decks I purchased a few years ago I think sandpaper is smoother! Seriously, I think they had been cut with a piece of jagged glass - they were woeful.

Re: Humidity - I said we were hardly known for a humid climate!

That said, so far this November, it's been as mild as September. Must be due to a certain Country not giving a toss about the ozone layer Smile
Barry Allen

"The Rules of the Sleight-of-Hand Artist, are three and all others are vain; the first and second are 'practice', and the third one is 'practice again'.

Edward Victor 1936
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