7 Rarest Playing Cards in the World

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Playing cards are some of the cheapest entertainment that money can buy and nearly everyone has at least one deck laying around somewhere in their house. While most people may not think of playing cards as anything special, there is actually a large group of people whose hobby is collecting unique and rare playing cards.

Most of the rare playing cards on this list are modern decks produced specifically to be limited edition. However, the rarest playing cards in the world are housed in a museum in Istanbul and are also believed to be the world’s oldest playing cards.

  1. Smoke & Mirrors Gold Private Reserve
  2. Number Produced: 2,500
     Manufacturer: The D&D Playing Card Co. (printed by the United States Playing Card Company)
      Designer: Si Scott
    Year Produced: 2015
      Current Value (Based on Highest Amount Paid at Auction): $149
    Smoke & Mirrors Gold Private Reserve
    photo source: Kardify

    The Gold Private Reserve version of Dan and Dave Buck’s Smoke & Mirrors cards are so elusive that these playing cards can only be obtained in person at their showroom in San Diego, California. Adding to the rarity of the Smoke & Mirrors Gold Private Reserve deck, is the fact that Dan and Dave’s showroom isn’t open to the public and an appointment needs to be made.

    Dan and Dave only made 2,500 decks of these special edition Smoke & Mirrors Gold Private Reserve playing cards. Each deck is inspected and wrapped in gold foil before being placed in a gold foiled box. The design on the cards was drawn by Si Scott and were custom tailored to fit Dan and Dave’s personal taste.

  3. White Centurions
  4. Number Produced: fewer than 1,100
     Manufacturer: Theory 11 (on Bicycle playing cards)
      Designer: Theory 11
    Year Produced: 2008
      Current Value (Based on Highest Amount Paid at Auction): $325
    White Centurions
    photo source: Playing Cards Wiki

    Custom playing card company Theory11 released a special edition of their popular Bicycle Centurions playing cards in 2008. The White Centurions design first appeared in magician Chris Kenner’s 1-on-1 effect Blueprint trick and people were immediately drawn to the design of the cards. Theory 11 then released fewer than 1,100 decks, which sold out right away.

    According to Theory 11 the White Centurions deck is the same as the original Centurions deck, only with “an inverted more elegant appeal.” From time to time, a deck White Centurions deck may show up on eBay and sell for hundreds of dollars.

  5. Zenith
  6. Number Produced: 1,000
     Manufacturer: Encarded (printed by the Expert Playing Card Company)
      Designer: Paul Carpenter
    Year Produced: 2014
      Current Value (Based on Highest Amount Paid at Auction):
    photo source: Encarded

    Founder and playing card designer Paul Carpenter released a limited edition deck of cards titled Zenith in 2014. Zenith was the first deck in Encarded’s Signature Series and only 1,000 individually numbered decks were produced. The Zenith deck was so limited, that even Encarded promoted the deck as “one of the rarest full releases in the world of modern playing cards.”

    Due to the completely custom design by Carpenter, the Zenith playing cards completely sold out and are now highly sought after. The box of the Zenith cards features holographic silver foil and shows the unique design on the back of the playing cards.

  7. Unbranded Black Limited Edition Reserve Note
  8. Number Produced: 1,000
     Manufacturer: Jackson Robinson
      Designer: Jackson Robinson
    Year Produced: 2013
      Current Value (Based on Highest Amount Paid at Auction): $250 (original price; none listed for sale)
    Unbranded Black Limited Edition Reserve Note
    photo source: Kardify

    Playing card designer Jackson Robinson is known for designing and producing some of the rarest decks of playing cards. Robinson often uses Kickstarter to fund new playing card designs, which always get funded and sell out quickly. In 2013, Robinson released a collection called Federal 52 Part II, which featured detailed artwork based on American money.

    Robinson made several versions of the Federal 52 Part II collection, including limited and unlimited editions and Bicycle branded and unbranded decks. The rarest version in the collection was the unbranded black Limited Edition Reserve Note deck. Robinson only made 1,000 of these very limited cards and according to playing card enthusiasts the unbranded black Limited Edition Reserve Note are rarely put up for sale.

  9. Venexiana Gold
  10. Number Produced: 212
     Manufacturer: Half Moon Playing Cards
      Designer: Lotrek
    Year Produced: 2014
      Current Value (Based on Highest Amount Paid at Auction): $425
    Venexiana Gold
    photo source: Kickstarter

    Card designer Lotrek of Half Moon Playing Cards released a very limited edition of his popular Venexiana playing cards. Lotrek launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his Venexiana Gold playing cards and only 212 decks were produced. The backs of the special edition cards featured real gold foil and the card faces were printed with gold ink to match the backs.

    Of the 212 decks of the Venexiana Gold, 100 were set aside for Kickstarter backers and the remaining 112 decks sold out quickly when they launched. According to one source, a deck of Venexian Gold playing cards sold for $425.

  11. Scarlett Tally-Ho Legacy Edition
  12. Number Produced: 50
     Manufacturer: Kings Wild Project
      Designer: Jackson Robinson
    Year Produced: 2015
      Current Value (Based on Highest Amount Paid at Auction): $600
    Scarlett Tally-Ho Legacy Edition
    photo source: Kickstarter

    In 2015, playing card company Kings Wild Project launched a kickstarter campaign to produce a limited run of playing cards named after designer Jackson Robinson’s daughter, Scarlett. According to Jackson, the Scarlett Tally-Ho deck is special to him because he has always wanted to design a red deck of cards. Jackson loves the color red so much that he named his youngest daughter Scarlett after the color.

    Three different versions of the Scarlett Tally-Ho playing cards were produced, each in a limited amount. There were 700 standard Limited Edition decks, 200 Gold Edition decks, and 50 Legacy Edition decks. The Legacy Edition cards featured an embossed finish, gold foil gilded edges, two metallic gold inks on face cards, one metallic gold ink on back design, and each custom wooden slipcase was signed by Jackson Robinson. The Scarlett Tally-Ho Legacy Edition playing cards are so rare that one deck was sold for $600 on eBay.

  13. Mamluk Playing Cards
  14. Number Produced: Unknown – one known example exists today
     Manufacturer: N/A
      Designer: N/A
    Year Produced: 15th or 16th century
      Current Value (Based on Highest Amount Paid at Auction): N/A
    Mamluk Playing Cards
    photo source: The World of Playing Cards UK

    A deck of Mamluk playing cards or Mulūk wa-nuwwāb (kings and deputies) not only contains the rarest playing cards in the world, but the oldest. The Mamluk playing cards are considered the precursor to European style playing cards, which are the ones we still use today.

    Mamluk playing cards arrived in Western Europe when Islamic forces under the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt invaded North Africa, Spain, and Sicily during the early 16th century. An incomplete set of Mamluk playing cards from the 15th or 16th century is housed in the Topkapu Museum in Istanbul. The beautifully illustrated cards were reproduced in 1972 and were limited to only 750 decks.


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