John Northern Hilliard talks smack about Bicycles from beyond the grave

June 26, 2018

It has been said that I occasionally take my ribbing of Bicycle Playing Cards too far in my capacity as “card guy,” here at Genii Online. Indeed, there has been some suggestion that I relish opportunities to rubbish the brand and its propensity for ugly skeleton decks. This is of course absolutely true, and my disdain is supported by none other John Northern Hilliard, newspaper man, amateur magician, and author of the well regarded treatise on the art, Greater Magic. As discovered by magician and scholar, Lee Asher

Hilliard had little time for what is now the most ubiquitous brand of playing cards in the world, simply stating that they, “vary in quality.” In fact, he seems to be a bit of a downer on cards in general. He apparently wasn’t a fan of two other well regarded brands, Bee and Tally Ho. I imagine he might find it funny that all three of those brands are now manufactured by the same company, The United States Playing Card Company. Hilliard’s opinions on Tally Ho’s might not have aged well – a small army of professional prestidigitators swear by the brand – but we can perhaps all agree on one thing: That I am right about Bicycles. 

But Greater Magic was published in 1938, surely Bicycles have changed since then? That’s true, they have. They feature a lot more skeletons these days.