Sunday, November 18, 2018

Favorite Jokers

It's such a hard question. Not because I can't think of a favorite but because I can think of so many favorites. Here's a few.

These are favorites since they are such classic jokers that I've seen all my life.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Card Collecting: Need Help with Tracking

Question: How to keep track of the information about the origin, details, and history that I learn about each joker?
Where did this come from again?

I'd like an easily updated system which somehow sits on the computer (hopefully in the cloud) and which links to my physical collection. I'd also like to have it available online, perhaps part of this blog or a new system, so that other collectors can help contribute to it and use it

I also want it to help me keep track of duplicate jokers for trading purposes. Right now, the duplicates either get slipped in behind the original in the albums, kept in boxes by category, or left in a big pile for sorting.

Any ideas? I just started looking around by looking for some sort of image matching software and I'm looking right now at Bolide, image matching software.

One second generation collector,  Tom van Berkum, sets a high standard for his information on each joker.   Each joker gets this sort of description:

"Patience 12223" - A.G. MĂŒller, Neuhausen, Switzerland > 1960. 52 cards + 2 jokers + 1 blanco. 61 x 43 mm. GvB0764

Which he explains like this:

When I post a joker or deck I always try to mention the name or brand of the deck. In this case: Patience 12223. Second I mention the manufacturer: A.G. Muller. Then city/Country and year: Neuhausen, Switzerland after 1960. Then: number of cards in the deck: 52 plus two jokers 1 one extra,blanco, card. Then the size of the cards in millimeter: 61x43 mm. The code GvB0764 refers to the initials of my father and the number in his collection. This was deck 764 he obtained. After his passing away in 2008 I decided to keep this system of organising. All the info of the deck he kept in a database. That is my main source of info and he was very accurate đŸ§

Here's another example of Tom's incredibly high quality information (from Facebook):

What I don't understand is where to keep this info and in what format (also of course how I'm going to gather it for the 3K plus jokers that I already have assembled):

  • Should I have a big text file on the computer with a description and  picture of each joker?
  • Should I print out a page from this text file for each page in my collection?  (ie keep them in groups of 9)
  • Is there some database system that would be useful for this?
  • Should I take an image archiving system, say Flikr or Google images or shutterfly, and add a description of each joker? It turns out there are image management packages.
  • Maybe the image matching software is the right way to start?
  • Maybe each print out isn't by page it's by section of the joker collection

Joker Organization Today: My jokers in pages, in sections, inside three ring binders.

Card Collecting Albums
The jokers are in clear plastic pages of nine so that viewers can see the front and the back. Each nine tries to be a balanced page related to the pages around it and in a category of between 2 and 25 similar pages. A few categories to a book.

For example, here's a page of jokers sitting on barrels, it's one of eleven pages of jokers sitting. Other sections in sitting including sitting on the crescent moon, seated sideways (like Owlman), and sitting cross-legged (like the Piatnik). The sitting section is one of two in a medium size three ring binder.

Jokers on Barrels

Crescent Moon Joker Backs

Jokers Sitting on Crescent Moons

Seated on Barrel Joker Backs
But this blog is also part of the organization with some fascinating descriptions of jokers but no real way to retrieve or find it. Examples:

1895 or 1927?

A Brooding Court Jester by Jan Matejko

One of the jokers with the most interesting history is this one. The joker is derived from a famous enigmatic painting by Jan Matejko in 1862.

 In the painting there is a distraught brooding court jester who contrasts dramatically with his character and the court ball visible in the background.

 A Brooding Court Jester by Jan Matejko

The painting is about a specific court jester and moment in history. StaƄczyk is the jester and the year is 1533 (OK, there's some debate if the jester is mythical or historical and the date seems to be also up for discussion).

On the table lies a letter likely announcing that Poland has lost Smolensk (now in Russia) to the Grand Duchy of Muscovy, causing StaƄczyk's sorrow and reflection on his fatherland's fate. The letter seems to have been discarded by some official, and only the jester realizes its significance – while the rulers are partying...(Source: Wikipedia)

This joker seems to come from Poland and there are versions of him in several colors.

And thanks to Ronald Kruijmel of the FB Joker Collectors Club for cluing me in to the origins of this joker.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Collecting: Responsibilities and Record Keeping

As a collector, I have the opportunity to not only assemble lots of different jokers but also, to collect and curate the information about them.  For me, this is a challenge.  I have no way inside my collection to maintain any information about the jokers.

For instance, this week I received a number of jokers that I had bought. This whole group is of Polish jokers:
Jokers from Poland
Polish Jokers
However, once I integrate them in the collection, they will get moved out to different thematic areas and I'll soon forget that they were Polish in origin. The purpose of this post is to wrestle with these issues since I feel important info about these jokers, this meta data (there's another technical term jumping into general vocabulary), is being lost which I should be retaining.

As a second example from this group, here's more info that I have about one of these jokers in which the info is not integrated within the collection. Notice above that there are a series of jokers in various colors which show a brooding sad jester, the green  one is highlighted below.

This figure is taken from a painting of some historical significance:

The painting is  by Jan Matejko, 1862. The distraught brooding court jester contrasts dramatically with his character and the court ball visible in the background. The painting is about a specific court jester and moment in history. StaƄczyk is the jester and the year is 1533 (There's some debate about the date and if the jester is mythical). On the table lies a letter likely announcing that Poland has lost Smolensk (now in Russia) to the Grand Duchy of Muscovy, causing StaƄczyk's sorrow and reflection on his fatherland's fate. The letter seems to have been read and then discarded by some official, and only the jester realizes its significance – while the rulers are partying...(Source: Wikipedia)

A third set of examples of the problem would have to do with jokers that come from specific decks. I have the decks in some cases but the info about the decks is not transmitted across to my collection.

< add examples>

The collection

I have mostly organized and collected my jokers thematically by categories that I have selected. Alternative schemes would be to focus on:

  • Country of origin
  • Manufacturer
  • Date 
With these alternatives, there would be an emphasis on the info about the deck. I prefer it my way but I'd like to retain this other info inside the collection, not just here on the blog.

The collection sits on a shelf in three ring binders.

Inside each album are a series of plastic pages that hold 9 jokers showing the front and back.


I could add a page of info next to each page with the information about those jokers.  I would use a simple numbering scheme, one through nine with the top row being joker 1, 2, 3, etc and just write an info that I have about them.  For example, for this page:

1 and 3. These among the most beautiful and artistically significant jokers in the collection. It is of a dybbuk and designed by the great artist of 1930s-50s, Arthur Szyk. It pictures a dybbuk which in Jewish or Kabalistic mythology is a malicious possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person. Arthur Szyk was a famous artist in mid 20th Century who escaped the Holocaust by moving to America. Donated to me by Pam Stein in August 2017.

4 & 6.
7 & 9. Multiple duplicates. This deck is: Jacob’s Bible cards printed by Piatnik for Israel company (Thanks to Ali Jerremalm in a Facebook discussion about these demon and devil jokers for helping me track it down). The site says: "Jacob’s Bible Cards designed by Ze'ev Raban (1890-1970) in which the court cards and jokers represent personages from the Bible (old testament or history of the Jewish race). The numeral cards are not decorated. Ashmodai was made into the Joker, with the Hebrew inscription letz ( ŚœֵŚ„ ) which means jester."
8. A duplicate. (Repeat all the  Matejko, 1862, painting, history, and StaƄczyk from above.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Masks and Theatrical Jokers

One of the most focused sections of the joker collections has masks and a little theatrics.  Here's a quick overview by video of the 18 jokers in this section. Yes, it's a small section:

Want a closer look? Here's a few shots followed by a summary of the currently 18 masked jokers.

This mischievous joker is clearly having fun but up to no good.  I imagine we could be good friends.

Here too, a sense of humor creeps out from behind the mask.

 This mask is not a toy and he's clearing not fooling around.
And he's not alone in the world. Here's the back showing that there's a real mob of these fellows.

 Here are the traditonal symbols of the theater, the happy and sad masks. Symbol comedy and tragedy.

The concept of modern theater was largely developed in the Golden Age of Greece. I think this mask dates from then.  From reading Teaching History with 100 Objects, I think this might be a statue of a Greek theatric mask (the originals were not made of clay and didn't last. And I quote:

With its exaggerated, grotesque features, this terracotta model shows the mask worn by the old man character in many comedies of the 300s BC and later. He has a wide grin, furrowed brow and bald head and wears a wreath with ivy leaves and clusters of berries. The masks worn in tragedies were different, with idealised features set in calm, serious, or sometimes pained expressions. 

And two more variations of the masks symboling the theater.

 Here's another array of masks. Don't know much about them.

This gorgeous mask is from the Beijing Opera.
 And here is the back of the Beijing Opera Joker.

This lovely lady is a tricky one. I'm talking about how I'm supposed to think about her.  Should I think of her as a juggler? There is a juggler joker section but it is large and a little impersonal.  She's also scantily dressed and could be sent to the girlie joker section of the collection. But she is in the mask section not only because this is an elite section and I'm partial to her but also because she is both wearing a mask and juggling masks which earns her this spot in the mask and theatrical section. She's certainly theatrical with her spotlight creating a shadow which reveals her inner animal, her daemon, her totem.

We're near the end of the show folks. 

Two closeups of interesting backs of masked jokers.

And here are the 18 jokers that make up the mask and theater section, shown with their backs (for Hillary).

For a special treat, here are some shots of one part of my mask collection. Now do NOT be confused that in my mask collection, there is a joker even though you are reading about this in the mask section of my joker collection.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Walgreens: Great Card Selections

Hats off to Walgreens. I've generally, probably like most of the population, thought of them as sort of a generic drug store distinguished perhaps by their adjacent liquor stores. Unlike CVS, they haven't kicked out the tobacco products and launched full scale into being a health provider.

But I digress. I write today to brag about my new purchase of interesting decks of cards and jokers from Walgreens and to congratulate (and thank) Walgreens for having the insight to rotate their deck of card selections. This keeps me visiting monthly to check  on their card selection. And while I was there, I stocked up on toiletries and Benedryl and M&Ms and so on.

BTW, this is the second time that I have moved enough to dedicate a post lauding Walgreens offering of playing cards

Bicycle Cards from Walgreens
Bicycle Cards from Walgreens

The only other businesses that I would consider calling out as important to my card collecting: Ebay (where I shop a lot), Etsy, the US Playing Card Company, and Kickstarter.  It's an odd question to think about what other businesses help me with my my collection. And of course, who profits.  I guess I could also mention the people  who make the plastic card holders and the three ring binders.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Playing Card Collection Videos

October 6th, 2018: I created a quick video of the Mask and Theatrical section of my joker collection; Enjoy!

I updated the topsy turvy section of my joker playing card collection today.
I made a video. Obviously, there's a lot of room for improvement in my scripting, filming, and general production values.

If you would like a better look at my topsy turvies, click thru to the topsy turvy joker section of the joker collection.  Or, come visit Ft Lauderdale for a private viewing!

  I made this next video a few years ago in response to a video by an Italian magician who is listed as having the world's largest joker collection.


Here is a third joker video, circa 2017.  It highlights the section of the joker collection which has only headshots or upper body images of jokers.

And an updated joker from Sept 2018 also focusing on jokers which only show the head or upper body of the jester:


 And I'd recommend clicking through to see a full post on jokers with jester heads or upper bodies.

And here are the cartoon jokers.