Draven Reviews: Bicycle No 17

 approvedTitle: Bicycle No 17

Artist:  N/A

Producers: Stockholm

Link: Available At Your Favorite Murphy’s Magic Dealer

Retail Price: $17.95 USD

Learning Difficulty: N/A

Notes: It’s a Custom Deck of Playing Cards

Includes:

  • Deck of Custom Printed Playing Cards

I don’t do deck reviews for a reason.  My contempt for the collectible custom deck business is well known and has been documented all over the internet from social media to magicians forums alike.  I have had a steadfast belief that it maters less what kind of cards the magician is using than what the magician does with them leaving the selection of what kind of deck to use an aesthetic choice by the magician to fit theme, style, and character of performance they are giving.  Admittedly my curmudgeon attitude at my young age has left me an outsider among my own peer group so let me say this now:  It is a very rare occurrence indeed when a new deck comes along and I get excited about it.   Stockholm has managed to peek my interest with their new deck Bicycle No 17.

What I hold in my hands now is a deck of cards with a very unique and almost eclectic feel to it.  The card box is white background with almost a blood red design.  The back design looks like a lotus flower centered among nice scroll work.  The front has an old school Jester squatting over a spade with the No 17 displayed quite prominently in the center.  Apparently the decks that are Bicycle branded have a cherry red back design.  There is a non branded version that has a back that is beige/ white and has red accents.  Apparently the deck I have is the branded version.

My first impressions upon breaking the seal and looking at the cards is: “Oh wow.  This is beautiful.”  Every aspect of this deck has been touched by the hand of an artist.  The back designs match that of the card box, and every one of the card faces has a unique appearance not only in a nontraditional pip layout but also in the font used on the numbers.  Every aspect of this deck has been artistically inspired to create a masterpiece that feels old, and yet somehow familiar.

The jokers are color switched with each other and feature a jester sitting upon a box.  Even the symbol for hearts and clubs are mirror switched on the jokers hands.  This is a nice artistic nod to the detail intrinsic to this deck.  The four aces are oversized and have beautiful filigree scrollwork within their suited central pip designs.  The court cards though, are where the real beauty of this deck lies.  The court cards take on a very unique feel and design differencing each kingdom from another.  For the first time ever, when I handle this deck, I get the impression that I am holding four different kingdoms, four unique cultures, four very distinct lands in my hands all bound together by the common theme of 52 cards.  There is more than just artwork here.  There are stories to be told, to be discovered, and adventures within these kingdoms to be had.

The court cards in the suit of spades have a very unworldly ancient space like Asian feel.  Almost like ancient Chinese ran through a Star Wars filter.  It’s very elegant, it’s very old feeling, yet somehow it’s still not of this world.

The court cards in the suit of diamonds takes on a very ancient Egyptian like theme, but yet once again, like the spades before them, has almost a Star Gate like grace that makes them feel ancient while still appearing like they aren’t a part of our natural world.

The court of clubs has a almost a traditional British aisle feel to their monarchy set.  This court feels very noble, very regal, and aloof.

The court of hearts finishes the deck off with a unique combination of Hungarian meets Roman/Greek aesthetics.

The deck also comes with two additional cards.  A double indexed Queen of Hearts/ Queen of Diamonds, and a third Joker called “Jack-O” which has a Samhain / Jack ‘O Lantern feel to it.  He’s also holding a Two of Spades reveal in his hands.

As far as I can tell there is no trick specific to this deck.  It doesn’t come with anything other than the deck of cards, and there isn’t any links to secret online video content.  That makes this singularly the most expensive deck of cards I’ve ever owned, and the second most expensive deck of cards I’ve ever seen, coming in second only to the Golden Artifices from Ellusionist.  At nearly twenty dollars a deck this is a hell of a hard pill to swallow.  Beautiful as they maybe I don’t see myself playing with these things any time soon.  And I certainly won’t be buying them in bricks either!  This might be a nice deck to use if I can come up with a very specific routine to use story telling with the unique designs but it’s safe to say I won’t be doing any torn and restored card routines with this anytime soon.

For me the cards handle just like a dream.  They’re smooth, they fan well, and they are beautiful to look at.  All the usual sleights that I would do with a deck of cards flow easily with them so I can imagine anyone with serious technical needs regarding their cards quality should be pleased with this deck.  And might I add at nearly twenty dollars a deck they had better be!  So overall what can I say?  The deck is beautiful.  It’s great if you have that kind of money to toss around, but it’s not likely to become a regular worker for people who are more prudent with their spending.

Product Quality: 9

The quality of this deck is superb.  The designs, the art, and the price are all noteworthy.

Teaching Quality: N/A

N/A.  It’s a deck of cards.  No tricks are taught with it.

Video & Sound Quality: N/A

N/A.  It’s a deck of cards.  No tricks are taught.  No video accompanies it.

Overall Quality: 5

The only reason why I’m giving this deck an overall quality of 5 is due to the exceptional price tag that comes with this deck.  I think $17.50 for a deck of cards is outrageous.  Especially when these are being marketed to magicians who you know… use cards to perform with so they’re not meant to sit on a shelf and collect dust.  I’m very conflicted with this one.

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!  Don’t forget to like my blog where all my reviews are posted at www.williamdraven.wordpress.com.

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About William Draven

William Draven is a professional magician and sideshow performer living in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter at WilliamDraven or on facebook at www.facebook.com/thewilliamdraven
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