Monday, September 18, 2017

Animal Jokers: Flyers: Bees, Birds, Owls

In my joker collection, there is a large animal section which has subdivision such as equestrians, canine, feline, and flyers.  This article is about the flying jokers.

One of my long term favorites is the Bee Joker which I think was initially produced by Lewis Cohen and the New York Consolidated Card Company as part of the Bee 92 deck. It's a brand still published by the US Card Playing Company.   You can read the US Playing Card History of the NY Consolidated Card Company  The Bee Joker has a large bumble bee being ridden by a standing baby, dressed as a jester and holding a jester's wand or bauble.

Bee Joker by New York Consolidated Card Co.
Bee Joker by New York Consolidated Card Co.

The Bee deck with the diagonal lines on the back (pictured below) was a favorite of many magicians and gamblers because the back enabled dealing seconds or from the bottom of the deck.  

Back of Bee Decks
This peacock joker was one my early finds.  I remember buying it in the mid 1970s during a summer road trip up through New England. I bought it from an old barn in I think Vermont or New Hampshire.  Gorgeous, isn't it? I don't know if I've ever seen a second one like it.

Peacock Joker, Rare
 Peacock Joker, Rare
This rooster joker is another of my old favorites. I'm not sure of its origins, I suspect it is French since they have a thing for roosters.

Rooster Joker
Rooster Jokers

Here's one of the pages of 9 flying jokers. Notice that there are five variations of the Bee Joker. They all have the diagonal back.  One is from the New York Consolidated Card Company.  Another is from Consolidated-Dougherty, Division of The United States Playing Card Company,  There are three from the United States Playing Card Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45212.  BTW, I count them as different when there are distinct differences in design such as the name or corner elements or size of the design elements. If the only difference between cards is that one is bridge size and one is poker, I count them as duplicates, not as different.

Another nine flying playing card jokers. Two are animated stork jokers. Two are eagle designs, marked Polska (Poland). One is fine shot of a Baltimore Oriole.  Two cardinals, a bird with a worm, and may a vulture in the top left hand corner? What a collection! Counting the owl joker which is on another page, there are 28 different flying joker playing cards as of today.

A third page of flying jokers. This makes 27 for those who are counting. Yes, I do realize that the penguins are flightless birds.  And that the dinosaur is extinct. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Coca Cola Collection of Playing Card Jokers

My Coca Cola Collection of Playing Card Jokers is in the advertising section of my collection.  There is also a Christmas part of the collection which features a collection of Cola Cola Santa Claus cards. Enjoy! 

Sometimes I wonder who is authorized to make a Coca Cola deck. Is it only US corporate? Can the bottlers make promotional Coca Cola decks for collectors?

Coke Cards - The Jokers
Coke Cards - The Jokers


And this is where my Christmas Cards Jokers intersect with my Coca Cola Cards, a twofer collection!

Santa Claus Coca Cola Joker

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Arthur Szyk, Fine Art, Jewish American History, and Jokers

 As my readers know, I focus on the jokers and rarely involve myself in the deck of cards. But for these jokers, I'm making an exception. 

 Szyk's Dybbuk Joker
A Dybbuk Joker
A Dybbuk Joker

Arthur Szyk was an artist who fled to the US from Poland just before the Holocaust and was a significant contributor to American propaganda art during the war. He is perhaps most famous for his 1950 portrayal of the Declaration of Independence.  He was a book illustrator and his art for Hagaddahs was very popular.

He also illustrated two gorgeous decks of cards. "In the 1930s, Arthur Szyk joined a storied artistic tradition by illustrating an exquisite set of playing cards. Painted in his highest style in watercolor and gouache on paper, the twelve court cards - four Kings, four Queens, and four Jacks - each feature a different Jewish hero from the Bible or ancient history. Every idealized portrait includes the hero's name in Hebrew calligraphy and a symbolic element alluding o his or her story".

The jokers - not mentioned in the formal description of the deck that I quoted above - are of a dybbuk, a mystical Jewish figure.   Or so I am told by Pam Stein, the contributor of this deck and joker.

A dybbuk, per Wikipedia is: "a malicious possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person." I will continue to research this. As part of this, I've been reading the Wikipedia article on the 21 Jewish mystical characters, there are a lot more birds that I would have imagined.

The deck of cards by Arthur Szyk features the 12 royal cards who in the card tradition, connected them with characters from the old testament.

Focusing on the women,  the Queen of Diamonds portrays Ruth. Notice the wheat in her hands which echoes the story of her going to the fields to harvest excess wheat and barley where she caught Boaz's eye.
Ruth as the Queen of Diamonds
Ruth as the Queen of Diamonds 

The Queen of Spades is a painting of Esther.
Esther - The Queen of Spades
Esther - The Queen of Spades
 The Queen of Diamonds is Deborah.
Deborah Queen of Diamonds
Deborah, Queen of Diamonds
The Queen of Clubs by Arthur Szyk is Judith.

I have not yet decided where to categorize Szyks' dybbuk joker, maybe on the devil page. Maybe in the art section. Maybe I'll move the devil page to the art section. The problem with putting Szyk's with the devil jokers is that the art work is of far higher quality and at the end of the day, it's not a devil.
Devil Joker Page- Current Layout
Devil Jokers
Devil Joker Page- Current Layout

Here's a few close-up of the devil or death cards.

This one interesting, is also involved with Jewish mysticism. I'll need to research it too.

I think the only precedent on this site for discussing the full decks of cards was when I discussed the transformational decks of cards.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Musical Jokers

One of my joker categories in my taxonomy are my musical jokers.  There are just over 50 musical joker playing cards.  Here are a few of my favorites and then the bulk are below.

The musical section is organized by type of instrument. We start in the wind section. More specifically, with the flutes, fifes, and piccolos.

Flute-, piccolo-, and fife-playing jokers
Flute-, piccolo-, and fife-playing jokers

This next collection of nine is built around the six entertainers at the top.  One is playing the clarinet, the bells, the drums, two stringed strummed instruments, and one who seems to be cheating at cards. Then three more jokers playing guitar-like instruments.

Stringed instruments.

Stringed instruments and drummers plus a jester on a horse playing an instrument. Should that be in the equestrian section of the animal jokers or here with the other musicians?