Railroad Playing Cards

Why Were Railroad Playing Cards Made and What Made Them so Popular?

Vintage railroad playing cards

In times past, railroad playing cards were often richly produced, with each card featuring a different photo of scenery from the geographic area served by the railroad.

Many collectors are fascinated by vintage railroad playing cards. Finding a unique deck in great condition can be extremely exciting, and it offers a look back through history to various different times. Still, many people don't know that much about these cards or why they were originally made. Additionally, why do they remain so popular today, with scores of collectors eagerly searching around to make a great find?

It's apparent that railroad playing cards originally served several different purposes. Primarily, cards and card games used to hold much more prominence in a world where there were no video games and Internet access, let alone televisions with hundreds of channels in every home and so forth. Nearly everybody played cards and was familiar with a core sampling of various games that could be played with different people.

Therefore, a railroad company supplying decks of cards to passengers either for sale or as giveaway items was a perfect way to stay at the forefront of their customers' minds all throughout the year. A new deck of cards would be played with frequently, and it offered a great opportunity to have your name and maybe some fancy shots of your sparkling, powerful trains or the scenery and landscapes you traverse as well, easily visible at all times.

As it is children who are most fascinated by trains themselves as well as games of all kinds, kids would come to know the train company and undoubtedly have at least a subconscious fondness for them. Therefore, the availability and distribution of railroad playing cards was a classic advertising and promotional technique to bring in new customers and bring customers coming back for more, whether they knew it or not!

Of course, traveling on the railroad was supposed to be convenient, relaxing and luxurious. One of the perks of such travel was being able to sit back at a table or in your chair with a fellow passenger and amuse yourselves, and a game of cards was a perfect fit. Therefore, railroad playing cards were a natural choice.

Today, many railroad companies still produce their own decks of cards, although for the most part, the magic and mystique is gone from them. Gone are the colorful images and the unique look and feel of each deck that you might find from one company or line to the next. Instead, you're bound to receive nothing except a standard deck of cards with a company logo on the deck. This simply makes a vintage deck or set of decks even more compelling.

They are a rare commodity, harking back to earlier times and long-gone elements of society. Instead of being wowed by the big locomotive on the South Pacific Railroad, for instance, a child may instead see some corporate sponsorship in the background of their latest video game, or some product placement during a scene of their favorite primetime television show. But collectors and those with a fondness for Americana and simpler times can tell you that there is nothing quite like a vintage deck of railroad playing cards.

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