Pictured below are two antique solid-wood card presses. Although a card press is not cheating equipment, there is still an association with cheating because these props were used extensively by faro banks, amongst others. Faro, a game that is now extinct, was the most popular banking gambling game of the 19th century. Since the game did not have a large built-in advantage for the house (such as blackjack does) faro operators had to be "resourceful" in obtaining an edge, to make sure the house wins. For this reason, nearly every faro game was crooked.
The idea of a card press is to keep the cards straight, while they are not in use. Decks of cards are placed neatly inside the box and pressure is applied by tightening the handle. This also prevents cards from absorbing too much humidity, in climates where that may be an issue.
Both card presses pictured on this page are of the multiple-deck variety. This is not to be confused with the notion of using multiple decks, in games such as blackjack, baccarat and other casino games, as they are played nowadays. These card presses use wooden dividers inserted between the individual decks.
Due to the improvements in manufacturing of playing cards, and due to the current affordability of cards, cards presses are no longer used. Another reason why card presses are no longer used is due to the fact that casinos have strict security procedures on how to store and handle playing cards used in their games and these procedures do not include recycling used cards. However, it should be noted that in some countries where casino procedures are not strictly regulated, casinos are still known to recycle cards beyond reason.
Card presses, such as these ones are very desirable items for collectors of old faro memorabilia. It is hard to pinpoint the exact source of there two card presses, but the one pictured on top is probably a Ernst Schmidt card press.
Below is a picture of an antique two-deck card press. This model is somewhat lesser known and perhaps more unusual.