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Playing cards of 2021 to shop for both players and collectors

Playing cards have become both a hobby and collector’s item for me during quarantine as I spend more time off screens and at home.
Illustration of Friends playing card game at garden party and Unfortunate Portrait(TM) Fashion Playing Cards
Here’s why playing cards have become my quarantine entertainment.Cultura RF/JPM / Getty Images ; Urban Outfitters

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Like many others, I spent most of 2020 indoors. I relocated to Washington, D.C., and spent my days living and working in a makeshift bedroom in my parents’ home. In an effort to stay off screens and avoid burnout, I picked up new hobbies and pastimes, including cooking new dishes and doodling in my sketchpad. I also found new joy in playing classic card games with my family.

My father taught me how to play blackjack and Gin Rummy when I was young, and revisiting these games as an adult was a form of escapism from the news and a way to reconnect with my childhood. It became an after-dinner ritual and a screen-free form of entertainment.

I’ve since moved back to New York City, but my roommates and I still play cards regularly. My decks of cards also make for a great coffee table decoration and add to the overall decor of our apartment. I’ve really begun to see my playing cards as a collector’s item to decorate my space and provide easy entertainment. Plus, playing cards are typically inexpensive, making them easy to accumulate.

Unfortunate Portrait Fashion Playing Cards

These were the first playing cards I bought during quarantine, an upgrade from the classic deck my family used. They’re designed by Los Angeles illustrator Max Dower, who’s best known for his Instagram of whimsical doodles chronicling everyday life and the world outside. I’ve followed him for a while on social media, and jumped at the chance to purchase a pack of his playing cards.

Each playing card feels sturdy and waxy, with colorful designs of pop culture icons like Karl Lagerfeld and Cher Horowitz from “Clueless.” I’ve noticed cheap playing cards are prone to tears and creases over time, but this deck has really held up over the past six months. These playing cards, which now sit on my desk, have been a great conversation starter during work meetings and a fun source of entertainment for me and my roommates.

Other playing cards to consider

Here are other playing card decks I’ve used or considered buying, from different price ranges and designs.

Misc. Goods Co. Black Playing Cards

These playing cards contain American Gothic-themed drawings of the classic face suits. While I have the black set, these playing cards come in five different colors, which makes it easy to match the deck to your room’s decor. You can even buy multiple colors and mix and match.

Frank Lloyd Wright Playing Cards

I gave this set of cards to my architecture-loving friend, and I really enjoy the bright patterns on this deck. The design is inspired by the eponymous famous architect, sporting colorful geometric shapes and curves. These cards come in a pack of two decks within their own box for easy storage.

TV Genius Playing Cards

I’m a pretty avid TV watcher and enjoy playing games with this deck, which contains character artwork of popular TV shows, including “Breaking Bad”, “Mad Men”, “Fleabag” and “The Sopranos.” Cards suits are organized by show genre: Hearts are comedy, clubs are drama, spades are science fiction and diamonds are crime.

Van Gogh Playing Cards — Single Deck Set

Playing cards are a great way to show off great artwork without hanging a painting on your wall, especially when they’re designed with Vincent Van Gogh’s work. These colorful cards each contain a print of one of Van Gogh’s paintings and are made from cardboard stock, making them thick and extremely durable.

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