A few years back, Ellusionist released their Bicycle Black Tiger deck of cards — a deck with white ink on black paper, scented like a real Asian tiger. They proved so popular that a short time later the company began producing an entirely new deck — a deck with white ink on black paper, scented like a real Asian tiger that had some red ink on it — called the Bicycle Black Tiger deck (with red pips).

But they didn’t stop there. Tally-Ho Viper decks, decorated with the jaunty snake for which they are named, came in two different design — magic fan and inner circle — and were coated with an SUV500 Air-Flow Finish that not only made them more aerodynamic (for throwing), but also gave them the weight and rigidity to crush any lesser cards that got in their way.

Then, because a magician just can’t have enough black cards on hand, came the Shadowmasters. These are black and white like the Bicycle Black Tigers, but have an entirely different back and the SUV500 Air-Flow Finish, and are printed on paper made exclusively from trees on Ellusionist’s Magic Tree Ranch. The deck’s joker has a picture of what will be left of a magician who reveals the secrets of magic on YouTube, and its box sports a jaunty bar code and a UPC number created by an expert numerologist to deliver maximum luck to any magician within a radius of ten feet.

Coincidentally, upstart magic company theory11 — a company so new that they haven’t even had time to properly capitalize their own name — also got the idea to market black playing cards. Their first release was Bicycle Guardians. These black cards are identical to standard Bicycle cards except that they’re black and the angels on the back apparently engage in a regimen of weight lifting and steroids and have traded their bicycles for AK-47s. In keeping with their military feel, the cards have razor-honed Supersharp(tm) edges and explode if dropped.

theory11 continued their redesign success with Bicycle Centurions. These cards are designed to look exactly like cards that an ancient Roman centurion warrior magician who liked black cards might own. They’re printed on hammered bronze and hand stained, with all card values in Roman numerals. A complete deck weighs almost a pound.

But for the black-deck completist, Ellusionist is still the champion. For each black deck they sell, they also offer special gimmicked decks — tiny, jumbo, levitating, half-eaten, warped, bioluminescent, etc. They also sell several varieties of black invisible deck, but you have to take Ellusionist’s word that they are all different.

In the coming year, Ellusionist will be adding to its black deck collection. New editions will include:

  • Night Eschers: With a back design inspired by the surreal art of M. C. Escher, these black cards will be specially prepared to form an Escher-like endless cycle — no matter how many cards you cut to the bottom of the deck, there will always be plenty on top.
  • Disassembled: The ashes of a standard Bicycle deck.
  • Securitypak: A black deck in which all cards have been glued together, glued into a box, and then sealed in bullet-resistant Lucite.
  • The One Deck: An ultra-cool, black-and-white Old Maid deck.
  • Dark Card-toon: A Card-toon deck with an African-American stick figure.
  • Black Deck Socratics: A deck that looks, feels, and handles exactly like a standard Bicycle rider-back red deck, but is metaphysically devoid of color.

Presto recommends you buy them all!