Introduced in 1887, and continuously produced since
that time. On top of being the most frequently used deck for casual card games, the Rider back is also
very popular with collectors, cardists and magicians.
Unlike some other long running designs, the Rider back
has hardly changed since the beginning. I say "hardly" because Jan Summers, an avid
Australian singles collector, observed in 2016 that the wingnut (for lack of a better description)
on the wheel in the center of the card is actually asymmetrical on the earlier issues. One end of the
nut has a longer border on one side, subtly rendering the back design "one-way," meaning that
the card has a distinct top and bottom. This evident error was corrected after the US8b issue of the
Rider back, on or about 1893. Both the blue card and the brown card pictured above are examples of the
early issue. Below is a detail of the differences in the two versions.
The next image is of a Rider deck
(ca. 1960s) that was exported to Cuba. This deck is still sealed with its white tax exempt USPCC
stamp, and a Cuban tax stamp pasted on top. During that era I didn't know that the U.S.
allowed any non-food exports to Cuba, so this discovery was a surprise to me. I also wonder how this
deck survived in Cuba without ever being opened; I remember from a trip there in 2001 that the bare
necessities were often in short supply. For an example of an earlier Bicycle deck that was
exported to Cuba, see the
New Fan Back page.
Also pictured below is a pair of the
fireproof cards that were developed by NASA in the early 1970's for use in space.
Because the atmosphere in space capsules, the space station, etc., is typically
very rich in oxygen, a fire would prove disastrous. Therefore, every object sent
up there was as fireproof as possible, including these playing cards. Blue NASA singles pop up
occasionally, but red ones are very rare. I have one red deck, but no blue one. These may have
originally come in a fireproof box, but I have never seen it. If the NASA cards weren't so rare,
I would hold a match to one just to see...
Over the years there have been many proprietary
issues of the Rider back, including one for Playboy, the 1984 Olympics, 1997 Olympics, a pair
of Christmas decks, among others, and many parodies and unauthorized knock-offs. The Rider back
was also used during World War II for aircraft spotter cards. These decks featured silhouettes
of Allied and Axis airplanes to facilitate civilian identification. The Rider back was also
exported to the UK in plain and gold-edged versions. Click on the "UK" link above for more
A worn brown single from the early
Rider issue sold on eBay for
$25 on September 24, 2016. A red Rider back sample card sold for $30 on eBay on February 22, 2017. A worn red
US8a Rider ace of spades sold on eBay for $42 on May 13, 2017. An EX red US8 Rider deck sold on eBay for $148
on May 17, 2017. An EX red Rider US8a deck with gold edges, joker and original box (no flap) sold on eBay for
$571 on February 11, 2019 (see the last image, below).