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Up The Ante With Limited-Edition Uusi Bohemia Playing Card Deck

My grandma was serious about her Tuesday afternoon poker sessions. As far back as I can remember, Doña Mary would host weekly games in her home in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, setting up round tables and folding chairs in the house’s massive indoor porch, setting up decks of playing cards and poker chips on the tables, and even preparing a fresh pitcher of jaragüa and antojitos for all the old ladies in the neighborhood who would join her during these afternoon sessions, gambling, laughing, and chit-chatting for hours. As the youngest of 15 grandchildren, I was always   fascinated by my grandma’s poker games — and, of course, since kids had to vamoose while guests were in the house and escape to the living room or the bedroom, this only heightened my curiosity about these weekly sessions and my enthrallment with playing cards. The latter was, of course, amplified by the fact that my grandma taught me how to play almost every card game I know: from Blackjack to Gin Rummy, Canastas, War, Bridge, and so forth. But no matter how awed I may have been by my grandma’s decks, I can only imagine how much more magical I would have found them had they looked like the cards in the Uusi Bohemia Playing Cards Deck.

The Bohemia Playing Cards Deck is the second collection of original playing cards released by Uusi, the design company established by Peter Dunham and Linnea Gits, and it features hand-painted artwork inspired by the fusion of 17th century Baroque style art and contemporary street art. Each deck features 52 playing cards and 2 jokers with illustrated characters, suits, numbers, and pips — all hand-painted with gouache paint. Made with Bicycle playing card stock and printed by the United States Playing Card Company, the deck was produced in a limited run of 3500 units, making it extremely limited. Even the box incorporates seemingly divergent artistic influences, with the label executed in the traditional calligraphy lettering style associated with the former Kingdom of Bohemia (located in the Czech Republic).

From a design perspective, the most impressive cards are, of course the court cards: the Queen of Spades, for instance, is  depicted as having voluminous, Marie Antoinette-style hair and an undulating silhouette, her dainty hands holding the traditional bedpost-like scepter, while the one-eyed Jacks (Spades and Hearts) resemble knights or even gentlemen of the royal court, as they’re pictured riding horses and holding either a sword or a lance, their shirts boasting voluminous sleeves and their long hair tied in a ponytail or covered with a plumed hat. The Joker, meanwhile, is infused with a sinister vibe thanks to his cape and the flame-like details at its hemline — even despite the ribbons spiraling down from the bauble (or mock scepter) he holds, which was modeled after those carried by Medieval court jesters.

 Since the decks are printed in small quantities, Uusi took to Kickstarter to request that art lovers, card collectors, and design buffs show their support by pledging to donate a certain monetary amount. But here’s the great part: you can donate as little as $1 to show the support or make a more sizable donation and enjoy some added perks that include your very own deck of Bohemia Playing Cards, a skateboard deck bearing the illustrations on the back of each card, a Bohemia Playing Card Poster, an Ace of Spades Playing Card Poster, and more. A $27 pledge, for instance, will score you two Bohemia Playing Card Decks and either a Bohemia Playing Card Poster or Bohemia Ace of Spades Poster (you can choose between the two). A $45 pledge, meanwhile, wins you six Bohemia Playing Card Decks — a great investment for avid collectors and traders. Those looking for even more collectibles can choose a more sizable donation, like the $90 pledge, which covers a limited-edition skateboard deck and two playing card decks.

To check out the various pledge packages available and score some of this amazing art, visit Kickstarter.com

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