The following contribution is from our friend Sherman Tsao from Carat Case Creations. The original version of this post was posted by Sherman on Instagram. If you don't follow @caratcasecreations, you should!
The Ultimate Deck came out at the end of 2012 and was produced in collaboration between Stranger and Stranger, an award winning packaging design and branding company specializing in alcoholic drinks, and Dan and Dave of Art of Play (@artofplay). The deck took over a year to produce and was a way for Stranger and Stranger to celebrate 2012, which was a pivotal year where they expanded from alcoholic drinks to other luxury goods.
The tuck box is made of black matte kraft paper with glossy black embossing for the artwork surrounding the silver foiled ‘Stranger’ ambiagram in the center. The front and back have the same design, which is also the design of the card back that at first glance appears to be a two way design, but upon closer inspection, one can see the text ‘Stranger and Stranger’ above and ‘Ultimate Deck’ below as well as NYC to the left and LDN to the right. Above and below the text is the Stranger and Stranger logo, which is an ambiguous bi-stable image that can be seen as two faces or a vase, a.k.a a Rubin vase. The box also has a stamp like seal with the text ‘Stranger and Stranger’ and ‘Dead Man’s Hand 1994’, which is the year in which Stranger and Stranger was established.
Inside the tuck box are 56 completely different custom designed playing cards, each telling a story, making this deck more of an art deck than a deck to use in game play, especially since the indices sometimes get lost in the beautiful illustrations. The art featured on the cards is made up of different styles and themes, from cute to funny to creepy, and nothing is used more than once. The deck also comes with an extra ‘Create Your Own’ card (to replace a lost card) as well as an ad card.
The differences between v1 and v2 are hardly noticeable as everything about the two decks are the same except for color of the tuck boxes, the seal and that v1 did not have cellophane while v2 did. The v1 tuck is more of a blue black and its seal is cream colored while the v2 is closer to a pure black and has a pinkish seal. The image on the v1 seal is printed much cleaner and seems a little wider with a narrower border than the image on the v2, which appears a little blurrier with wider borders (and possibly shorter as well, but I can’t tell since my v2 seal is folded).
A special edition box set, limited to 400, that included both the v1 and a gold gilded v1 in cloth bags was also produced and most were given to clients and friends.
Though v1 is quite rare and difficult to find these days, you can still pick up the Ultimate deck at www.wondercraftcards.com
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