The 52 Plus Joker Convention, a large gathering of card collectors from all over the world, was held in Charlottesville, Virginia, in early October. I was not able to make it this year but I will do my best to attend the 2020 edition. In the meantime, please enjoy a quick glance at this surprising hobby !
Most amateurs choose a card brand they like most (Bicycle, Fontaine, Orbit, and so on) and stick to it. I started collecting Bicycle branded decks a while ago. This is a brand developped almost two centuries ago by the US Playing Card Company, which of course now includes thousands of references. Some versions of their card decks became so hard to find their value went out of proportion. But this is not the only criteria when judging a deck's value. You must also pay attention to :
_ how many decks were produced. Generally speaking USPCC and other companies produce a minimum of 1.000 to 1.500 decks. So, below this we can talk of a "hard to get" model. An extreme example would be the Scarlett Tally Ho Legacy Edition : only 50 decks were made, and the price for a single deck reached 600$ on ebay.
_ when were the cards printed. The USPCC was created almost 150 years ago so some models are now so old you could find them in museums. My two oldest models date back to 1984 (funny to think we are the same age...) and were developed for the Los Angeles Olympics :
_ the brand. It is the same way for decks of cards as for any other product : some companies manage to position themselves in a very successfull way, others do not. I believe Fontaine represents the best example in branding when it comes to playing cards. Through constant efforts and strategic alliances with famous cardists, Fontaine has become one of, if not the single most sought after brand for both cardistry and collection. The 2009 Green model sold out in only 9 hours although a huge batch of 5.000 decks were made. Some Red Fontaine decks were sold from collector to collector for 350$ a piece ! The Sleight model was totally sold out in only 2 hours although 10.000 decks were created ! Isn't it crazy ?
_ and of course you must pay attention to the general aspect and condition of the deck. Has it been opened or not ? Is it in good condition ? etc. And try to detect counterfeit products !
Personally, I have now collaborated twice with the USPCC to developp the following two references : (and hopefully a third one in a few years!)