Hoyle Playing Cards: A Closer Look

Brown & Bigelow has been around since 1896, manufacturing various printed products and promotional items, primarily advertising. They started printing playing cards in 1927, and their Hoyle brand became so famous that they changed the name of the company to Hoyle in 1975. In 2001, USPC aquired the card line and the Hoyle series, which had grown to include a long-running series of computer and video games, books, and other products.

The main card bearing the name of Hoyle Playing Cards is an American-made card comparable to Bicycle in weight, finish, and durability. It’s a good , durable coated paper card, and I can understand how it developed a solid following over the years.

Hoyle Playing Cards use a completely different set of face-cards, with a finer line and a more angular, modernist art style. Notice in the pictures below how the Queen of Hearts has squared fingers (as though she was drawn by Mike Mignola) and a more disapproving expression. The strong black outlines show an artist skilled with pen-and-ink, and capable of drawing an expressive line. (As a classic comic fan, I’m a huge admirer of artists with a strong pen line. I think the ink line of Charles M. Schulz is one of the high points of 20th century art.)

Hoye’s have a distinctive card back depicting Poseidon with a trident and clam shell. There’s no particular reason for this, but it looks dang spiffy.

Queen of Hearts: Bicycle (left) & Hoyle (right)
Corner detail