The Encarded Signature Series Deck #1

  • Less than 1,000 individually numbered decks will be available to the public
  • Precisely printed by the Expert Playing Card Company
  • Unique sideways tuck with intricate, holographic foil and custom seal
  • 52 fully custom cards plus 2 jokers
  • This is the only release, there will be no other colors, boxes, or other editions
  • Never to be reprinted, Zenith is one of the rarest full releases in modern playing cards

Design Background

Since I started designing decks several years ago I have noticed the predominance of the "black and white" deck. There are so many versions of this motif: white cards with single color black art on it. I have many such decks in my personal collection. While they are all individually quite nice, when I look at them for a while they all start to merge together. It seemed to me that there were unexplored ideas within this genre and I felt compelled to do an Encarded version of this staple.

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-to-common circular back design. 

I looked at a wide variety of ancient design motifs and was struck by the beauty of many designs from India in centuries long past. Their combination of simple lines and more organic forms was intriguing and I created a large scale medallion with many overlapping rings of detail. This grand medallion normally would be placed on the back of the card inside some kind of frame, with a standard border area and with other details around the medallion to fill in the blank spaces. 

However, what if we took that medallion and enlarged it to fill the card, bleeding right off the edge and introducing a multitude of edge details when you fanned the cards? What if we also changed the normal relationship of black-art-to-white-paper and had the balance of dark and light be dramatically different? Of course, there is also no reason to limit yourself to plain black ink either, so let's make that dark metallic gray instead.


After much experimentation, the back design of Zenith was born. Full of detail and fully symmetrical, the design dramatically bleeds off the edge of the card to form a borderless design. However, the circular movement of the design itself combines with the circular movement of a card fan which creates a completely unique visual that almost appears to “bend” the cards around in a circle. It is a wholly unique look, created by taking a traditional concept and re-imagining it.


For the faces of Zenith,we wanted them to be simultaneously modern and traditional, so we decided to keep the traditional pip layouts but refreshed them with custom pip design and index fonts. The coloration of the deck is black and red, sticking with the classic scheme and matching the overall B&W nature.

For the Signature Series court we utilized old vintage faces and cleaned them considerably.The court figures were freed from their confining borders and enlarged to dramatically fill the card face, and for Zenith are rendered purely in gray to provide a simplicity and cleanliness. The hearts and diamonds have the bright red contrast that really gives the deck life when fanned or displayed.

Finally, the tuck box of Zenith features many custom touches. Most noticeably, the box does not open from the top but instead uses a sideways flap to access the cards. This is a very old design, seen nearly 100 years ago, and we are excited to have it be a feature of this Signature Series. The box is made of a thick, dramatic black paper, highlighted with an intricate holographic foil version of the back design. Devoid of the deck name, the box exudes sophistication and elegance. The box is also heavily embossed and features no ink at all, every design feature is foiled.

Each box will be sealed with a custom numbered seal, clearly indicating the 1,000 deck release. While we will have a few unnumbered decks for our private reserve, Zenith is a one-time printing with very few decks available. If you enjoy collecting playing cards you know that few modern decks are made in such low numbers, so Zenith is definitely worthy of your attention.


Zenith represents a multitude of experiments, all refined and assembled into what we feel is a beautiful and cohesive whole. What started as an experiment developed into a new design that pursues many unique ideas, and we hope that everyone discovers the beauty of Zenith for themselves.