by BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame
Portfolio52Maybe you own a decent collection of playing cards. But have you heard of Portfolio52? If you haven't, then you really, really need to learn about it!
Portfolio52 is the world's largest online playing card database. And it's completely free! This online web database enables collectors to manage their personal card collection. It's run by Alex Chin from Seasons Playing Cards, and if you've ever seen any of the decks he's created, you'll know that he's a man of passion, detail, and produces the highest quality. Portfolio52 is his pet project, which he has spearheaded for quite some time, and he has poured an enormous amount of his passion and personal time into it.
So what is Portfolio52? This playing card database focuses on several main elements, including:
● managing your personal collection of decks
● discovering and exploring other decks
● trading decks with other collectors
I've used it personally, and find it a terrific resource that I can highly recommend. It provides an excellent means of keeping track of your personal collection, as well as managing personal lists for trading and or want-to-buy wish-lists. It also has ways of incorporating your personal notes.
Alex has built and bankrolled the initial site himself, and continues to develop and improve it when time and opportunity allows, by adding more content and technical features. The continued support of the site relies on the generosity of the playing card community, with funds for the upkeep and maintenance of the site being generated through the annual sale of the National Playing Card Collection deck, where 100% of the proceeds go towards keeping the project afloat.
I contacted Alex Chin directly to find out more about Portfolio52, and he was kind enough to answer a number of interview questions about it.
You are the person behind the Portfolio52 project. How did this come about?
I think most passion projects get developed from a personal need. Being a card collector myself, especially as you start the hobby, it's an absolute blast. The act of discovering new decks and adding them to the collection is great. That part never changes.
But as you start collecting more, especially when you start getting higher in decks, managing the collection can become more difficult and sometimes it can feel a bit more like work than play. Sometimes you might have limited room to display your decks so parts of your collection may also end up in storage out of sight.
Portfolio52 was developed to help take away any inconvenience of organizing your cards by allowing you to see and manage your full collection at a glance.
For those unfamiliar with Portfolio52, can you tell us what this is about and what it offers collectors?
Portfolio52 is the world's largest playing card database meant to be a free tool to help anyone with their collections. It's essentially a community-run site for cards that's free for everyone to use and contribute to.
The main way people use the site are to either find decks, manage their collections, or help contribute. The site helps you search for individual decks to track and add to your collection as well as search by deck traits/features which can help you discover decks you might not have known about that fit your collecting style. I think I love this because in this way you can develop a collecting style on your own that better fits you rather than having social media tell you what to like.
The second and main feature of the site is the ability to "collect" decks to your personal collection page, your Portfolio. Every user that joins gets a Portfolio containing a 'Collection List', a 'Wishlist', and a 'Tradelist'. When you find a deck you like or that you own on the site you can add the deck to any one of your lists. Each list acts as a visual inventory of your collection that you can sort and customize to your personal preferences. The beauty of these collections are that you can track duplicates and add personal notes for any specifics. The separate lists also help facilitate trading among the community by matching your tradelists with others wishlists.
Similar to Wikipedia, Portfolio52 is also helped run by the community. Anyone can help contribute and upload a deck not yet on the site, to help others discover decks they might not have known about.
Who is all involved with the creation and support of Portfolio52, and what can people do to help out?
For the initial build of Portfolio52 I ended up designing the entirety of the front-end design to keep costs down and then had hired help for developing the back-end of the site for launch and maintenance.
Right now for the site itself, it's a one-man operation that relies on volunteers to help keep it going smoothly. Any contribution to site improvement is always appreciated. Any decks not yet in the system because they're either older or new releases can be added to the database for approval. You can also help improve the quality of deck page information either by upgrading images, improving tags, or filling out empty fields that the original uploader might not have known. I think the fun of collecting is that everyone has a different field of knowledge and when everyone helps add a bit, the site continually improves to help others on their collecting journey as well.
For those looking to help the site financially, there is an annual NPCCD deck to commemorate the event where sales go towards helping run the site. The site is completely free to use and without ads. To keep things floating, the site looks for donations once a year via deck purchases. For those that find value in both the site and in awesome cards, it's a perfect win-win for everyone and is honestly the thing most people end up getting truly excited about.
National Playing Card Collection Day (NPCCD)Alex Chin also represents the close connection between Portfolio52 and the National Playing Card Collection Day, although these are separate projects. But is this National Playing Card Collection Day (NPCCD) really on the calendar? Absolutely - it's October 17th! In fact, Alex is the person who successfully went through the formal process of applying for it, and pictured below is a certificate to prove that it is legitimate and real! You can visit the official NPCCD website right here.
National Playing Card Collection Day was firstly created to raise awareness about collecting playing cards, and to celebrate this growing hobby. But it also served the dual function of giving Alex the opportunity to produce a special deck to mark the occasion, in support of Portfolio52. Running a site like Portfolio52 costs money, and so Alex came up with the idea of pairing the NPPCD event with the creation of a unique deck for collectors that would also serve as a fundraiser in support of Portfolio52. The first National Playing Card Collection Day was on October 17th, 2016. To mark the occasion, and in combination with Portfolio52's official launch, Alex created a special limited edition deck of playing cards, with a print run of only 400-500 copies.
Again, let's hear directly from Alex Chin about the National Playing Card Collection Day:
You worked independently and very hard to get National Playing Card Collection Day recognized as an official event. How did this come about, what were your aims with this?
Getting it official wasn't actually that difficult. I think the harder thing to do was to set up a culture that would get people excited about card collecting. My main goal of the event was to celebrate our hobby of card collection to those outside our niche. I've been in this world for almost 10 years now and people still get confused by it. The idea of creating a holiday was to make a fun day where everyone could share their passion for the hobby with those that may not have necessarily known about it.
My hope for the holiday is that over time card collecting will become more popularized and therefore recognized by others rather than being something obscure. This will help allow the culture to shift the perception of playing cards from commodity into one where cards are a valid medium for art.
How would you suggest that people could celebrate National Playing Card Collection Day this year?
I think any good event is about meeting new people. For those outside the community, maybe find a card collector to better get to know the culture. As a collector myself one of my FAVORITE things to do is explain my collection and I'm sure others are similar. For those in the community, definitely introduce someone into your hobby. A great hobby isn't done in isolation but shared with others.
Every year I run a small contest online to encourage people to take a picture of their entire collection to share with the world. It's a fun event that has people pulling out their old decks and sometimes you'll see some massive collections. People that don't know about the hobby might ask questions in a few of the comments and it starts conversations. Some people also share their full collections with their Portfolio52 link on social and end up doing trades just for fun that day by checking out each other's trade-lists.
You've produced some stunning and innovative NPCCD decks in previous years, to help support Portfolio52 and to commemorate the annual event. Will there be a NPCCD deck for 2019?
Yes there will be! It might change its name, because the acronym NPCCD was something I never thought about but many have pointed out it could just be PCCD since the deck is international. They definitely have a point.
The best way to stay in touch is to sign up via e-mail on the official website to be notified. If people are more inclined to use social they can always follow Seasons on Facebook or Instagram which is where I hold the contests for the event.
Final ThoughtsYou only need to visit the website of Seasons Playing Cards to see that Alex Chin really knows what he is doing. His expertise and familiarity with the digital world means that the images and design are absolutely second-to-none. He is a skilled and award-winning graphic designer, and whether he applies his talents to designing a website or to a deck of playing cards, the result of his passion and expertise is clearly evident.
Alex has also drawn on these abilities to give back to the playing card community with the creation of Portfolio52, an excellent free database for card collectors, and for that alone he deserves our applause and support. As a creator and collector of playing cards himself, Alex knows all too well the need for collectors to manage their collection, and his own passion for this has led to the creation of this online database. This outstanding and popular resource is the world's largest database for card collectors - and it's free to use. If you collect playing cards, then you absolutely can't afford to miss this wonderful tool.
Also look out for the decks that have been launched each year in support of Portfolio52, and in conjunction with the National Playing Card Collection Day that is commemorated on October 17th. And of course mark this date on your calendar, because National Playing Card Collection Day is an annual event in which you get to celebrate being a collector!
Alex has already indicated that there will be another annual NPCCD deck in 2019, and that it is inspired by the beauty of Morocco's mesmerizing architecture and labyrinth-like marketplaces. Alex specializes in creative packaging, and what we do know is that the 2019 NPCCD decks will have a tuck box design consisting of outer and inner boxes that depict gates, and where custom mirrors can create a corridor effect. The decks will be available as singles, as well as a 3-pack Palace Pack and a 6-pack Secret Kingdom Set.
The best thing you can do besides checking out the official NPCCD website is to stay tuned on Alex's social media for more news about this and any further decks that he produces. If the first three NPCCD decks are anything to go by, this year's deck already holds the promise of being something special, and will be another "must have" for the collector.
Meanwhile, if you are a playing card collector, then you definitely need to head to Portfolio52 to check out this great free online database, and give it your support. Highly recommended! And thank you Alex Chin for your wonderful and ongoing contributions to the playing card community!
Where to get them? Several of the 2018 NPCCD decks are still available on PlayingCardDecks here. Other decks by Alex Chin that are available include the Apothecary and Apothecary v2 decks.
Want to learn more? Visit Portfolio52, National Card Collection Day, and Seasons Playing Cards. Social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
About the writer: EndersGame is a well-known and highly respected reviewer of board games and playing cards. He loves card games, card magic, cardistry, and card collecting, and has reviewed several hundred boardgames and hundreds of different decks of playing cards. You can see a complete list of his game reviews here, and his playing card reviews here. He is considered an authority on playing cards and has written extensively about their design, history, and function, and has many contacts within the playing card and board game industries. You can view his previous articles about playing cards here. In his spare time he also volunteers with local youth to teach them the art of cardistry and card magic.