Tuesday, February 27, 2018

"My Oldest Joker is from 1896"... I thought!

I posted this joker to the Facebook joker collectors club, which is like a wise council of information and advice, and learned that this joker is from 1896.

The above is true. That is what happened. However, a week later, I was privately messaged and told:

I fear that you have been misinformed.  The 1896 version had a star inside of a circle in the corners.  Yours has the interlocked US (the S is superimposed on the U). Also, the 1896 Joker has "The National Card Company" where yours says "Five Hundred".  That substitution was made in 1910. Also, the #13 was added in 1925. I would date your deck to 1927.  Also, looking at your Ace of Spades, it says Russell & Morgan which also points to 1927. 
    Paraphrased from info from Brad Starnes

500 Deck Joker
500 Deck Joker
This imps also presents a tricky taxonomy question. I had initially put it in with the other USPC - US Playing Card Company - cards such as the Bicycle Jokers and Congress jokers which have the overlapping U and S in the index corners.  But now that my Bicycle section extends far beyond USPC and so do the Congress ones, this no longer seems right. For now, it's the Card section of the collection.

Here is its back.
 I remember buying this deck on a trip between junior and senior year in high school. That would have been 1975 in upstate NY.  In fact, once I found out that the deck was that old, I started searching for the whole deck and I found that I still had the entire deck.  

It's an interesting deck since it was for a game called Five Hundred. The deck has all the regular cards from ace to king.  They look pretty much like the modern design although there are some subtle changes in the king's design.


But there are also an eleven, twelve, and thirteen for each suit. So instead of fifty two cards, there were sixty-six.


Here's the info provided in a Facebook "Joker Playing Card" Group discussion of this joker and deck: 

Paul Bostock:  The design (those 'imps') looks like National Playing cards. I checked Hochman <Encyclopedia of US Playing Cards> and it is Nu13 1896. At that time, National had recently been bought by USPC, hence using their letters on the Joker. 

Chris Turner:  National or USPC joker from the special deck for the game 500. These are originals. Look at the vertical lines in the finish of the paper stock. Newer cards (after 1960s) do not show those lines with age. 

Decks have 63 or 65 cards, depending in the variety, including 11, 12 and 13s and one joker. USPC made the 500 deck until the late 2000s. 

The Griffin back seen here is the most commonly found. Other backs included a swastika from when that symbol was considered a sign of good luck. Deck made in red and blue. Slip cases with gold embossing first, then later, a larger tuck box. 

500 decks of all vintages are still out there at the junk stores and estate sales — and rarely are expensive. Finally, it is a wonderful game. The favorite at my house. Four or five players use a standard deck with one joker; six players use the 63 or 65 card deck. 

Dan Nordquist: The characters are the "Palmer Cox Brownies" who were popular cartoonish characters from the early 20th century. National playing cards created the "look" and was bought up by USPC as someone else said. 

If you like the look of the Brownies, there are others around besides the ones sitting in a circle. Probably the greatest would be the Schlitz beer advertising deck that has them on the Joker. There are also some Joker pics that show them about to launch a huge snowball off a roof at other cartoon characters. And a second Joker that shows the aftermath of the snowball falling on everyone below. Those are all black and white. But the really rare one is a color version of them playing billiards / pool.

Here's the deck in its original case.

Here is the back of the copyright card notice which has the scoring system for both Auction Bridge and the Game of Five Hundred.

And one more view of the deck.


While I am going deep into my boxes of such stuff, here is another card package that I'm curious about. Anyone? I think I bought it at the same time in the same era.

 There are two decks in a leather box with a snap. Each deck has gilded edges: one gold, one silver. There are also an array of score cards and rules books. The rules books cite the rules set by the 


Here is the ace of spades. It has an art deco look to me.  I see the pun in the name "FAN~C~PACK" but I'm a little puzzled by the "PAST~L~EZE".
Fan-C-Pack Ace of Spades
Fan-C-Pack Ace of Spades
 The joker is toy soldier reminiscent of both actual toys and to me, the toy soldiers in the Nut Cracker Suite.

Here's the back of one of the decks. The other one is blue. It's marked the The Old Curiosity Shop. It looks maybe German or Dutch style to me.

Here's an attempt to show the shiny gold edge.

Here is a score card with some reminders about scoring.


 Here's an attempt to show the shiny silver and gold  edges in a top down view of the entire package.

Lastly, there are also two rule books: one gold, one silver.   "Contract Bridge in Brief. Based on The Approach Forcing System. 'Brannon's Full Proof Contract Bridge System' edited by Robert M. Brannon of Bridge Headquarters, Inc. New York City, New York.  Copyright 1932."
Brannon's Full Proof Contract Bridge System
Brannon's Full Proof Contract Bridge System
Update. I now know a little more about this deck again thanks to the knowledge pool on Facebook groups.
Joop Miller: Most of the info is on the AS: published as Past-L-Eze by the Fan-C-Pack Co. In the Hochman Encyclopedia (Dawson) they are dated c1935 and it is suggested that "some of them" (?) were made by E.E. Fairchild. I see that your set didn't come in the original doublebox, but in a sort of luxury set. Does it mention Fan-C-Pack on the box?

As far as I know there are two editions of the backs: the Old Curiosity Shop (same back design but with a red and a blue rim) and a Pan and Goat set (with a Pan back and a Goat back).
The idea was that using soft pastel colors would be easier on the eyes.

I  guess this explains"PAST~L~EZE" reference. Then Daniel Wilson added:

Daniel Wilson: “The Old Curiosity Shop”, by Fan-C-Pack out of NY. I have their “Pipes of Pan” set, a copy of which can be seen on the British World of Playing Card page on PAST~L~EZE.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sports Jokers

Sports jokers, sounds like an oxymoron. But why not? Here they are. There's 61 of them.

First up, two favorites. A soccer referee giving me the red card. And the three stooges playing golf.


Moe Curley and Joe: Jokers Par Excellente!

Speaking of golf, here's a whole page of golfing jokers. That's not an oxymoron, it's just redundant. Golfing. Jokers.









Note that the four bowlers in this last page are designed by Randy Butterfield of Indiana.  I'm told that the blue bowling jokers below are created with GLOW IN THE DARK blue ink....


Bicycle Jokers

The Bicycle Joker is among the most classic American jokers. It might be the premier American joker.  I have 60 bicycle joker variations.

Here is my personal favorite, the colored version of the classic Bicycle Joker.


And then here are a sample of the many variations of these bicycle jokers. First, the blue background:


An interesting yellow coloring...
  



Before we leave the classic Bicycle joker section, lets do a little history.  While not an old joker, this design is a throw back to the origin story of jokers, the "Best Bower", an extra card required by the game of euchre.  Note the date call out at the bottom: 1885.  Was this the date of the first publication of a Bicycle joker?

Here's another variation of the big wheeled old style bicycle but without the reference to the Best Bower or the date.

This next joker, shown front and back, is also a modern recreation made to look old of the Bicycle joker.




Thus ends the bi-cycle section and starts the unicycle section. The first unicyclist is particularly tricky.

This jester's unicycle is tiny but the tweetie bird on this finger is bigger than his head. And the bells on his hat are larger than the bird's head.


Now, some clowns on unicycles...




And a clown on a sort of unicycle. Actually, it looks like a ball. But I thought he belonged here with the others.






The last bicycle joker to be pictured is a modern design by the incomparable joker designer, Randy Butterfield.   I hope to interview him soon to get the inside scoop on the story of this design.









This is the newest and last page in the Bicycle section. It has the novelty see-through joker (picture above front and back plus the Randy Butterfield jokers (top left and top right). The center bottom is sort of a unicycle theme. I'm not entirely comfortable with classifying him in the bicycle section but he is there. For now.

Note that the bicycle section of this collection use to be the Bicycle and USPC section. USPC means the US Playing Card Company which often uses the U overlapping with the S in the top left adn bottom right corners of the card (see above).  From when the entire USPC section was together, there was a post about this joker card with the imps which I included here but it really has its own section where it was once considered the oldest joker in my collection:

 

Here's the info provided in a FB discussion of this joker:

Paul Bostock The design (those 'imps') looks like National Playing cards. I checked Hochman and it is Nu13 1896. At that time, National had recently been bought by USPC, hence using their letters on the Joker. 

Chris Turner National or USPC joker from the special deck for the game 500. These are originals. Look at the vertical lines in the finish of the paper stock. Newer cards (after 1960s) do not show those lines with age. 

Decks have 63 or 65 cards, depending in the variety, including 11, 12 and 13s and one joker. USPC made the 500 deck until the late 2000s. 

The Griffin back seen here is the most commonly found. Other backs included a swastika from when that symbol was considered a sign of good luck. 

Deck made in red and blue. Slip cases with gold embossing first, then later, a larger tuck box. 500 decks of all vintages are still out there at the junk stores and estate sales — and rarely are expensive. 

Finally, it is a wonderful game. The favorite at my house. Four or five players use a standard deck with one joker; six players use the 63 or 65 card deck. 

Dan Nordquist: The characters are the "Palmer Cox Brownies" who were popular cartoonish characters from the early 20th century. National playing cards created the "look" and was bought up by USPC as someone else said. If you like the look of the Brownies, there are others around besides the ones sitting in a circle. Probably the greatest would be the Schlitz beer advertising deck that has them on the Joker. There are also some Joker pics that show them about to launch a huge snowball off a roof at other cartoon characters. And a second Joker that shows the aftermath of the snowball falling on everyone below. Those are all black and white. But the really rare one is a color version of them playing billiards / pool.