Sunday, February 5, 2017

Juggling Jokers

In my previous post, I gushed about a joker since it evoked the classical jester theme of juggling.  Then I went on a quest to find my jokers with a juggling theme. Here's the results:

juggling jugglers
juggling jokers

And if you don't mind, I thought I'd include a picture of yours truly doing some juggling. It was original posted on my sports blog.

For those of you who want to know what happened at the end of the video.... it turns out that I had forgotten to chew so I started to choke.  Once I realized what was happening, I remembered that I use to have this same problem back in the early 1970s when I use to perform this trick.  Here I am, half a century later, and I'm still forgetting to chew and swallow.  Totally cracked me up! Practically make me choke to death too.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ebay Joker Buying - Auctions Daily

I've recently received a bonus at work so now that I'm flush, I'm focusing on building my joker collection.  I tend to win about half of the auctions that I bid on. I'm still getting a feel for the market. Many of the jokers are sold in groups of 9 and I already will have 7 or 8 of them. So on these, I tend to get outbid since they can go into the $20s for people who are acquiring a large number of new ones. For  me, who is just getting 1 or 2 new ones, it's too pricey.

I tend to win the singles when I not only don't have them but also really like them. Here's some updates from today on playing card joker buying...

For instance, this next one is an ongoing auction at this point. I really want this one since I've a thing for good devil figures but I'm bidding way past my comfort level for an individual playing card.

Devilish Joker - Auction Still Live
Devilish Joker - Auction Still Live

I just won this antique looking joker. I like it because I know that it's a US Playing Card joker by the symbol in the corner. And I like the romance of the scantily clad beauty hanging in sight but out of reach on the crescent moon.  I'm pleased to have bought this one. I think I paid $7.00 for it.
lady on the moon - antiquish joker
lady on the moon - antiquish joker

To be frank, I sort of wish I hadn't bought this one. I only bid $4 and I won it. It just doesn't do anything for me. I know I'm supposed to love all my children but this is one that doesn't seem to be true to the traditions and spirit of playing card jokers.  Oh well, that's why I have big albums, some have to go in the back.
baby girl in garden joker
baby girl in garden joker
 This spooky figure is very appealing and it was also under $7.  The picture from Ebay of this card is not so clear so I can't wait to get the original. I think it's a skeleton face but I'm not so sure.

Spooky Figure Joker
Spooky Figure Joker
This next one is one of my favorites of the week. Bought it for a cool $4.00. It has a juggling leprechaun.  As we all know, juggling is both a favorite theme (and skill) of mine and a traditional joker theme.  And I like mystical creatures like leprechauns and their distant cousins, gnomes. Of course, I'm not sure that I've ever seen a gnome joker. As I write this, I've started searching for the page on my blog where I highlight juggling jokers and I find, to my surprise, that I've never really put together a section themed by juggling. There are juggling jokers but they are scattered throughout organized along other themes. I did find 6 juggling jokers on one page in an album so I've reproduced that below. Along with a pair of naughty gnomes whose image j'ai volé...

Joker: Juggling Leprechaun
Joker: Juggling Leprechaun
Here's a sampling of a traditional joker theme: juggling. Here they're mostly jokers juggling balls. More often, they are juggling (or magically suspending) large numbers of cards in impossible formations or juggling the four card suits in different ways...

Jokers: Six Juggling from the Collection
Jokers: Six Juggling from the Collection
Are gnomes verily related to leprechauns? And what of their mysterious mistress?

Des gnômes, prêtes pour un soirée
Gnomes - Hoping to Party
Des gnômes, prêtes pour un soirée

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Jesters, much like Jokers

While I collect playing card jokers, I have picked up a few items closely related to jokers.  For the record, I STAY AWAY FROM CLOWNS, scary or otherwise. It's clear to me that jesters and jokers are a completely different breed from clowns.

Jester - Joker Model
Jester - Joker Model

This little plastic figurine is an amazing joker or jester

These inlaid wood boxes are from the south of Spain. The bottom one was bought in the late 1980s. I have new one, not yet pictured, bought in November 2016.
Joker Box - Inlaid Wood - Southern Spaing
Joker Box - Inlaid Wood - Southern Spain
I met a jester who was behaving himself so I took his picture.  He was in Eastern Europe. Specifically, Prague in the Czech Republic.  October 2016.

A Jester in Prague, Czech Republic
A Jester in Prague, Czech Republic
The picture below is a rare one in that it has me, the joker collector, pictured on the blog! Enjoy this rare glimpse of the mad genius!

John Edelson with a Jester, Eastern Europe. Oct 2016
John (collector) with a Jester, Eastern Europe. Oct 2016
Oops, there I am again. I was dared to get photographed with these two famous characters who have been recently made into fluffy stuffed toys. One is the HangMouse featured on VocabularySpellingCity.  The other is Pinkerton Sciefus, or Pinky or Sciefus for short, who is a featured character in Science4Us.
John Edelson
John with the HangMouse & Sciefus
Clowning Around - What a Joker!
The new HangMouse stuffed animal is to commemorate a number of improvements in the HangMan game including making it more educational by introducing hints related to the use of the word or its definition.  Sciefus is here to mark the increased acceptance that time spent in K-2nd on science more than pays for itself in terms of improved literacy and math skills.  

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Bicycle Playing Card Jokers

These are a few pages form my playing card collection which focus on Bicycle Playing cards.  The US Playing Card company is the publisher of these bicycle jokers.  I quote from the website at the bottom of this post  some info on the history of the Bicycle cards and the jokers.  

The first page are Congress playing card jokers which also come from the US Playing Card Company and have a good history. Then there are three pages of  Bicycle (capital B) Playing Card Jokers (with some others as filler), the last  page has jokers with people on bicycles.

The US Playing Card Company has turned into the 800 pound gorilla of the playing card industry.  To our delight, they have started catering to us collectors by producing a large number of variations on the Bicycle Desk which are ideal for collectors.

Bicycle Playing Card Jokers
Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 1

Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 2
Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 2

Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 3
Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 3

Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 4
Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 4

Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 5
Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 5

Excerpted from the Bicycle Playing Card website:

Our long, rich history began when A. O. Russell, Robert J. Morgan, James M. Armstrong and John F. Robinson Jr. formed a partnership and purchased from the proprietors of The Cincinnati Enquirer what was then known as the Enquirer Job Printing Rooms. The spaces occupied the first and second stories of the building at 20 College Street in Cincinnati, Ohio. The firm commenced business as Russell, Morgan & Co., referring to the two printers in the partnership.
While on College Street, the firm printed theatrical and circus posters, placards and labels. By 1872, the business had increased so much, it was forced to seek larger quarters, and in November 1872, it moved into a new, four-story building on nearby Race Street in downtown Cincinnati.

Early in 1880

Mr. Russell proposed to his partners that they embark upon the manufacture of playing cards, an industry monopolized by several East Coast companies. The partners agreed and arrangements were made to add two additional stories to their building, making it six stories high. Many new machines were designed and built expressly for Russell, Morgan & Co. The first deck of playing cards was completed on June 28, 1881. About 20 employees manufactured 1600 packs per day.

In 1891

Russell, Morgan & Co. became The United States Printing Company. Only three years later (1894), the playing card business had grown to such proportions that it was separated from the Printing Company, becoming The United States Playing Card Company.
The United States Playing Card Company gained immediate advantages, for it acquired other notable companies: The Standard Playing Card Co (Chicago), Perfection Card Co (New York) and New York Consolidated Cards Company. New York Consolidated Card Company had antecedents dating back to 1833 when Lewis I. Cohen perfected his four-color press for printing playing cards. The famous "Bee"® Playing Cards still issued by The United States Playing Card Company, had originated at the New York Consolidated Card Company in 1892.
Congress® playing cards is one of the original brands from 1881 which is still in production today and the card of choice for sophisticated bridge players. Likewise, the world-renowned Bicycle® playing card brand has been in continuous production since 1885.

The Joker

The Joker is an American invention dating from about 1865 and has made different appearances in the Bicycle® card line. The first type represented a man on a high-wheeled bike. The bicycle later acquired two wheels of normal size. Then followed a series of playing card kings on bikes. These cyclists wheel past a milestone marked "808." Contrary to some opinions, this number has no mystical meaning. It is merely a reference number distinguishing this brand from others (such as "606") by the same company.

By 1900

The United States Playing Card Company expanded again, moving from downtown Cincinnati to a newly built factory in Norwood. Situated on over 30 acres, the facility would eventually accommodate over 600,000 square feet of manufacturing operations.
World War II

During World War II, the company secretly worked with the U. S. government in fabricating special decks to send as gifts for American prisoners of war in German camps. When these cards were moistened, they peeled apart to reveal sections of a map indicating precise escape routes. Also during the war, The United States Playing Card Companyprovided "spotter" cards, which illustrated the characteristic shapes of tanks, ships and aircraft from the more powerful countries. The company further assisted by sewing parachutes for anti-personnel fragmentation bombs.

In 1986

The company acquired Heraclio Fournier, S.A., the largest playing card manufacturer in Europe. In 1987, The United States Playing Card Company acquired Arrco Playing Card Company, the third largest playing card manufacturer in the country. International Playing Card Company, a Canadian subsidiary of The United States Playing Card Company since 1914, maintained its own manufacturing operation from 1928 to 1991. Currently, International Playing Card Company is a sales and marketing organization located in Ontario. The United States Playing Card Company was acquired by a series of new owners: Diamond International in 1969, Jessup & Lamont in 1982, Frontenac in 1989.

In late 1994

However, after a long and tedious struggle, Company Management, along with some local investors were ultimately victorious in accomplishing a buyout. The ownership of The United States Playing Card Company was finally returned to its Cincinnati roots.
  • The United States Playing Card Company introduces Iraq’s Most Wanted Decks, which identified the most-wanted members of President Saddam Hussein’s government. When introduced, 750,000 decks were sold in one week.
  • Texas Hold ‘Em Poker craze boosts sales
  • The United States Playing Card Company entered into a licensing agreement with Techno Source expanding the Bicycle® branded cards into the handheld electronic game category.


  • The United States Playing Card Company acquires KEM, Pisano Dice and Gamblers General Store & Poker Chips
  • The United States Playing Card Company becomes subsidiary of Jarden Corporation
  • The United States Playing Card Company entered into a licensing agreement with Encore expanding the Hoyle® branded cards into the PC software category.


  • The United States Playing Card Company introduces pre-shuffled cards
  • The United States Playing Card Company entered into a sponsorship agreement with the World Series of Poker the single largest poker tournament in the world.
  • Bicycle® Take the Train® and 4-Mation® products are launched and become proud winners of the 2007 Seal of Excellence Award by Creative Child Magazine.
  • Bicycle® Po-Ke-No® product is launched and becomes a winner of the Fun Stuff™ Award by Parents' Choice.


  • The Bicycle® Prestige™ Deck, premium playing cards for the competitive player, is introduced
  • The United States Playing Card Company entered into a licensing agreement with World Series of Poker and introduced a line of playing cards and poker accessories co-branded as Bicycle® and World Series of Poker playing cards.
  • The United States Playing Card Company entered into a licensing agreement with Jacks & Jokers LLC expanding Bicycle®, "Bee"®, Aviator® and Tally Ho® cards into the apparel category.


  • We celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Bicycle® Playing Cards!
  • Navarre Corporation and Jarden Corporation announce expanded License agreement for new line of Bicycle® Playing Card Brand interactive games
  • The United States Playing Card Company donates all profits from the Bicycle® “Hope for Haiti” decks to relief efforts
  • The United States Playing Card Company entered into a licensing agreement with world-renowned magician David Blaine to create a magic playing card program.


  • The United States Playing Card Company enters into a licensing agreement with Tribune Media Services, a division of Chicago-based Tribune Company, for the rights to manufacture and distribute the Jumble Card Game based on the Jumble Word games found in papers around the country.
  • Bicycle® Playing Cards are expanded into digital entertainment by launching their first Facebook and iOS games.
  • The United States Playing Card Company launches a Bicycle YouTube ChannelTwitter, and Facebook page for news and updates.
  • The United States Playing Card Company begins strategic partnership with theory11 for collaboration in web ventures and playing card design.
- See more at:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Topsy Turvy Jokers: Upside Down Both Ways

Here are four pages of jokers each with nine jokers.

These jokers are all what I call, topsy turvy jokers. What I mean by "topsy turvy jokers" is that they are symmetrical with no up or down.

The jokers are pictured inside the plastic holders that I keep them in. These pages are sold primarily to collectors of baseball playing card.

The ones in the top photo in the top left and top right spots are original jokers designed by Time4Learning and VocabularySpellingCity.

topsy turvy jokers set 1
topsy turvy jokers set 1

topsy turvy jokers set 2
topsy turvy jokers set 2

topsy turvy jokers set 3
topsy turvy jokers set 3

topsy turvy jokers set 4
topsy turvy jokers set 4

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Transformational Decks of Playing Cards

As I understand it, a transformation deck of playing cards builds the identity (such as four of clubs) into the design of each card. It's a very special art form.

I have two transformation decks that I bought from Peter Wood from the UK. I have a 2000PIPs and Wild!  The box of each deck is signed by Peter Wood himself.

2000PIPS by Peter Wood Joker 1 Transformation Deck
2000PIPS by Peter Wood
Joker 1
Transformation Deck

2000PIPS by Peter Wood Joker 1 Transformation Deck
2000PIPS by Peter Wood
Joker 2
Transformation Deck

 Take a look at how beautifully Peter Wood has worked the pips into the design for each of these cards in the 2000PIPS deck.
2000PIPS by Peter Wood
 Transformation Deck

Joker from Transformation Playing Cards
Can you see the nine hearts in this image?
Transformation Playing Cards

The 2000PIPS Deck
Box and Back
Printed by the Design & Print Partnership

The Wild! Deck was designed by Peter Wood
Copyright Newt's Playing Cards
In the Wild! cards,  the pips are again woven into the card designs. But the designs are a little simpler and are themed to cover the animals.  They are copyrighted by Newts Playing Cards at, a Playing Card Superstore (sic).
Wild! Animal Cards

There are degrees of transformation decks....  

I have several more transformation decks but Peter Wood's were the first I bought and the 2000PIPS deck is my favorite. It turns out in the esoteric world of the challenge of design tranformation decks, there is room for fine distinctions and for people to declare the concept of "so called" and "true" transformation decks.

 For instance, the description of my Circus Transformation Playing Card Deck by F Robert Schick (1924-1988) says:  " designing this true Transformation Deck, the artist has exercised no poetic licence whatsoever with manipulating the sizes, placement or shapes of the 'pip's unlike some of the few "so-called" Transformation Decks which have been designed in recent years.'

Stay tuned for my article about  my Circus Transformation Playing Card Deck by F Robert Schick

Ebay Auctions for Joker Playing Cards

Anyone else an Ebay Joker Card Purchaser?

I was feeling like spending a little money on myself and so, I clicked over to Ebay to look at joker playing cards and spent I think around $50- $100. I actually bid on about 20 items but 4 of them seem to have been immediately buys or already closed.   Here's the playing cards that are headed my way.

BTW, in the lots of cards, there were at least three jokers that I thought were interesting. One of the fun things about buying jokers online is the photography of them is already done so I have more visual fodder for my collection.

Here's the jokers that I purchased today so far....

a lot of 8 playing card jokers bought on ebay
The new jokers for me are
(counting L to R, Row 1, then 2):
Numbers 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9

a lot of  7 playing card jokers bought on ebay
I have most, maybe all,
of these jokers already but they
 seemed good buy anyway

a lot of 3 liquor-related playing card jokers bought on ebay
Three liquor playing card jokers
They're all new to me!

2 ugly jokers bought on ebay
Ugly jokers, aren't they?
This time on Ebay looking at jokers made me wonder about the other modern media.  So I poked around on Twitter and found:  @PlayingCardBlog @PlayingCards @CardsCollector . There's probably a whole community of joker and playing card aficionados there and maybe a hashtag or two that I should figure out. I did start to look at their followers and there's one company that seems worth calling out, the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards

I don't have a Twitter handle dedicated to this topic so you can reach me as @VSpellCityMayor which is my day job (it greatly interferes with my passion for collecting). Actually, that's not altogether true in that I also collect vintage educational technology tools which has turned out to be perfect decorating theme for my high tech edtech company.  And I do have some jokers on the wall in my office and we did do a corporate deck of cards with our own characters as jokers.

For those who are wondering, my Ebay name is johnegood.  The fun in joker collecting for me is to do it without spending money. What this means is that I tend to spend about a $1 per new joker.    I do often spend more.  I have a hard upper limit of spending no more than $5 per new joker.  Unless of course I've been drinking in which case I might go wild and spend $10 for a particularly beautiful joker.  For me, the most beautiful jokers are the ones that do a clever variation on a theme.  Favorites might be:

My Favorite Jokers: Classic Playing Card Jokers

Jokers sitting cross legged

Actually, I'm going to have to think hard about my favorites.  Some of my favorite pages from the albums don't seem to show up on the website except in the joker card video...
 -   END  -