Memento Mori

Memento Mori

Memento Mori Playing Cards, wow! Before jumping into my backstory, I need to call out that before I even considered buying this deck, I first had to look up what "memento mori" means. Turns out, it's Latin for "remember you will die".

When I got back into card magic and was looking into custom decks, I found Ramsay's 1st Playing Cards v2 right when they launched. It was one of my first "custom" decks ever and I loved it so much that I went on a hunt for other decks by this designer (back then, he was still hovering around 400k YouTube subscribers, so I didn't know he was that great yet =P).

Enter Memento Mori. I don't know the exact launch date of this deck, but as far as I can tell it was in 2016 that this gem came out. I base this info on deck reviews I've found, as well as a snippet of code in Murphy Magic's product listing page (they're the company that released the deck).

An interesting fact that I discovered is that the deck was actually designed by Adrian Valenzuela(@avtones) and commissioned by Chris Ramsay. I thought that that was neat to discover.

One of the ad cards in the deck yields the following passage which, in my experience, is the most words successfully squeezed onto a single playing card:

Memento Mori

Remember your mortality - stemming from the medieval Latin theory and practice of reflection on mortality. It has been a ubiquitous part of human culture for centuries. From the philosophical to the artistic. The fascination, fear and appreciation of death has consistently captivated and cultivated our imagination. Many practitioners of this theory kept with them, artifacts or keepsakes which served as a reminder that the only thing certain in life, was death.

Many of these items were often objects (watches, necklaces) in the shape of skulls. The low-poly design for me represents a simplistic one. The bare "bones" of 3D creation and graphic art, the first steps of animation or as I see it, the beginning of (virtual) life.

Many historians believe that playing cards represented a deeper, esoteric meaning, that each suit was one of the four seasons. Each card within a suit was one of the thirteen phases of the moon. The fifty-two cards in a deck would represent the fifty-two weeks of the year and together this would represent just one year of your life. A constant reminder of our fleeting time on earth.

This deck is my memento mori.
Chris Ramsay

The ad card, which contains a large quote by Chris Ramsay.

That's deep! But how I love the "history of playing cards."

What I find really cool about this deck, besides the design and personal meaning attached to it, is that several sources online state that this is the best-selling custom deck of cards. Ever! The word "custom" has to be thrown in there because mass-produced decks like Bicycle Standards and Tally-Ho would easily crush it, but I would definitely love to see some numbers to back up this statement! At $10 a deck, that's some serious cash.

Speaking of Bicycle, the deck itself is printed by USPCC on crushed bicycle stock which gives them the "broken in" feel right out of the box. If you're familiar with Ramsay's 1ST line of decks, you may be surprised that in this deck there are no extra cards like a duplicate 4 of Spades or a double backer. Instead, there are two ad cards (one of which has a grayscale back, which I guess could be used as a gaff).

The faces of the cards are completely custom with smooth geometric designs for the pips and shades of purples and pinks as the colors, rather than black and red. The courts are all custom patterns too. The back design hosts two skulls (from the tuck) that are in opposite corners, making it a proper two-way design.

I, myself, am on my last deck of Memento Mori's so I'll have to restock soon!

The deck consists of 56 cards:

  • 52 playing cards
  • Two identical jokers
  • Two ad cards (one which has the entire quote above printed on it)

Where to buy?

Last I checked, you should be able to pick up Memento Mori at Vanishing Inc. The last price tag I saw for this deck was set at $9.95.

Buy at Vanishing Inc.

This deck is created by Murphy's Magic and designed by Chris Ramsay. It's beautifully printed by USPCC on USPCC Crushed stock with an air-cushion finish. The deck features custom court cards, custom pips on all cards, a double-backer, and two identical jokers. The tuck case has an embossed, matte design, and is seal free!