Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Heritage Gift: The Deck of Cards has Arrived

Previously, I wrote about creating a custom deck of cards with photos of my ancestors.  It was fun making the deck but the true test is in the final product.

The first thing I noticed about receiving the deck was that it came directly from Hong Kong.  When using the Printer's Studio website I suspected they were located outside of the United States but didn't know for sure. So keep that in mind if you choose to use Printer's Studio.  It could impact delivery time or it could be important to folks who choose to support businesses a little closer to home. The big issue for me is safety.  Products from the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, etc are monitored closely to protect consumer safety.  Products from some other parts of the world aren't.  When a large manufacturer imports goods they are held more accountable.  When I am ordering goods directly, I'm not sure that my safety (thinking of inks and children) is a consideration.  Not a deal breaker but something to think about.


The cards arrived in a nice clear plastic box (see photo above) which was a little better quality than I was expecting.  The size of the cards was fine too - probably standard playing size.

The big thing that did surprise me was the photos were all in black and white.  When I created the cards I had assumed my photos would be in color. I didn't see any notice to the contrary.  I just checked the website again and didn't see any mention of the cards being black or white.  There was simply no reference to the end color.

Now that's not really a problem in general.  Most old photographs don't have much color anyway.  The issue, however, is contrast.  The text didn't show as well on certain cards because the shading differences were too subtle.  Some cards came out really nicely in black and white and some became overly dark.  If you choose to get these cards, I would recommend converting your photos to black and white first so that you'll be able to see the anticipated end result.

Randomizing the Deck

I did contact Printer's Studio about their policy of printing the same photo on the same number (hence easily turning the fun into a memory game).  I asked them if they could change their system so that the photos could be printed randomly on their cards.

Here's their response:

"Hi Marian,

Same image for same # is the idea from our customers.   They don't want same image for all prints but they just have 4 images.   We do have more options on 13 images or 54 images for a deck.   Our IT team is working on your idea of uploading your images and click on the button "autofit" to fill up all the cards randomly.

We appreciate your idea and please do keep on writing us email if you come across more ideas in the furture.

Your PrinterStudio Team"

Their response was very upbeat but doesn't sound like they are going to make any changes soon.  I think the only thing you could do would be to select the 54 images option and then randomly place 13 (or 4) photos across the 54 cards.  Truth is, anything with more than one image is going to allow for memorization or card counting.  There's no way around it.

In this particular case the focus is more on the photographs of my ancestors as a keepsake and less about the cards actually being used for playing.  So this is not a big issue for me.


In the end I think I got a good product at a reasonable price (US $7.99 +$5.99 shipping). I ordered the cards on November 28th and they arrived December 12th.  That was exactly a two week turn around.

The quality of the cards and the case was good and overall the photos printed well.  I would have preferred the photos to be in color but I am happy I tested this on one deck so that I can tweek the process for the next time.

I will continue to search for a reasonably priced alternative a little closer to home but I'm not sure I'm going to find it.

Would I recommend Printer's Studio to others? Yes, I would. Please pay close attention to notes about contrast and text above and you will be happier with the end end result.


  1. Thanks for sharing Marian. This is very interesting and I didn't know such a thing existed.


  2. Thanks for sharing your results with us, Marian. I appreciate all the detail you included about your cards. One question: what was the texture of the card surface?

  3. Nancy, the cards are on a firm card stock with a smooth matte finish. Let me know if you need a more precise description.


  4. Thanks for the review of the finished product. I've often thought about doing something similar and now I've got more details on what is involved. Very helpful!

  5. Marian,
    I ordered some cards, too, but they haven't arrived yet. What I did was put 54 different photos on the front (side with the numbers) and used one photo for the back. That way they could be used for playing cards with no cheating. I didn't know about black and white only so am a little concerned about the labels I created. Well, I'll have to wait and see.

  6. Marian,
    My cards arrived! I love them and so do my sisters for whom I bought them. They look great and even the color ones remained in color. Again, I put the photos on the front side and used one single black and white photo for the back. I might do another set for the other side of the family! Next time I will pay more attention to which photos are on which card. My daughters thought the matriarchs should have been on the Queens!

  7. Lisa, I'm so glad that your cards came out well. I would love to see them. Do you have a scanner or a camera so that you can take a picture of a couple?

  8. I'll send the photo through your email address.