Zenith Playing Cards: Encarded Signature Series

Zenith Playing Cards: Encarded Signature Series

Zenith Playing Cards, designed by artist and cardist Paul Carpenter, are the first in this Encarded Signature Series. Designs are based on classic French card decks, but as though they were updated for a highly exclusive limited-run playing card deck! Only 1, 000 of the Zenith Playing Card Decks were printed, making this something many collectors would be lucky to see in a lifetime.

The name “zenith” is defined as an “imaginary point directly ‘above’ a particular location”, and refers specifically to mapping celestial bodies or orbits. Thus, the card deck means to appear out of this world – and manages.

Zenith Playing Cards are lined with holographic silver foil, and tributes (or updates) modern classic card designs. Paul Carpenter’s decks are in high-demand, and Zenith is just one of many collectable decks with his artwork.

The deck stands out the way rare, collectable decks are supposed to.

Deck Details

Zenith Playing Cards contains 52 cards, with two jokers.

They’re rare and collectable because the company only produced 1, 000 of these decks. According to the website description, Zenith Cards have a “unique sideways tuck with intricate, holographic foil and (a) custom seal”.

The deck is made by Encarded, and printed by the Expert Playing Card Company. Originally, it was launched thanks to a successful Kickstarter project, which seems to have become one of the go-to methods of getting rare card decks to market.

If you’re looking for this deck, make sure to look for playing cards: Zenith shares its name with a bank card from the unrelated AU Small Finance Bank!

Designs are close to classic French decks, but updated: the unique sideways tuck, says the description, is a feature that came with early card decks – but is seldom used for modern designs. Classic, vintage card collectors will appreciate this small historical touch.

Encarded also calls it, “one of the rarest full releases in the world of modern playing cards.”  Their website description continues: “This is the only release, there will be no other colors, boxes, or other editions. Never to be reprinted.”

There are only 1, 000 out there, and the company stands by the point that Zenith Playing Cards won’t (ever) have a second run.

The website also tells some of the story about the deck’s history: “Not content to merely do a basic black and white deck, I wanted to forge new ground in the simple possibilities of working with one color. I also wanted to see how I could interpret some well known playing card design elements, namely the borderless concept and the all-too-common circular back design.”

Designs are a classic tribute to older designs, but rendered in black-and-white for an almost noir feel to it.  Card backs contain a geometric sphere, which the description says is inspired by “a wide variety of ancient design motifs.”

Cards open from the side, like earlier decks, as a subtle tribute to cardistry history.

According to reviews, the cards handle well, with the famous “Bicycle finish” still a prominent feature.

Its the first edition of a larger series, called the Encarded Signature.

The cards originally sold for $20 a deck, according to Money Inc. Today, you can expect to pay more than $100 and up for these rare playing card decks.

Encarded also makes other rare, collectable decks. Some are sold through Encarded’s website, while Paul Carpenter’s card decks also make regular appearances in card discussions (e.g. Reddit) and on auction sites like eBay.

About the Creator

Paul Carpenter started Encarded, a company for “the finest, limited edition, collectable poker playing cards”, in 2011. Encarded owes its success to a successfull first crowdfunding campaign (Kickstarter), which launched the company with the Tendril Deck.

Soon more funding campaigns would launch other rare, collectable decks like Aurum. Aurum was another  limited deck with three editions, gold-on-purple as a tribute to royal colour schemes.

Today, copies of Tentril can go for as much as $899 (thecardpenter.com)!  There is now a Trilogy of decks in the Tendril family. The original deck seems impossible to find, but the two new sequels are available in the Encarded store in limited quantities.

According to Encarded’s website, “Paul collects cards, does a little cardistry on the side, rides bikes, plays with electric cars and spends time with his wife and children and tries to get some sun at Siesta Key Beach whenever possible.

Rare Decks Series

Rare decks of cards are special collections that often include hard-to-find editions, old cards, and uniquely designed sets. People collect these cards because they look beautiful, have interesting stories behind them, and sometimes become more valuable over time. These decks aren’t just for playing games; they’re also pieces of art and history that can be enjoyed for their uniqueness and the special stories they tell.

In our Rare Decks series, we’ll share what makes these decks so special and why collectors are so passionate about them.
Click here to view other articles in this series.

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