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. Stańczyk 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 Stańczyk'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 ( לֵץ ) which means jester."
8. A duplicate. (Repeat all the  Matejko, 1862, painting, history, and Stańczyk 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.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Betty Boop Joker

I just bought a nice Betty Boop joker. Here she is, front and back, what a doll!  And a youngster, printed in 1993.

Betty Boop Joker
Betty Boop Joker

Betty Boop Joker Backside
Betty Boop Joker Backside

But I am all tied up in knots trying to figure out where she should go.  

On one hand, there is a cool old moon joker that I have in the Congress section of my collection. You might well ask: "Why is the Moon Fairy joker in the Congress section?"  This Moon Fairy joker was the joker on one of the first Congress decks that the USPC published, in 1895, so she is there with the early brands like Bicycle. Betty looks great next to the Moon Fairy: they are classy ladies from yesteryear who go together well. (I'm not sure that this is an original Moon Fairy although it does seem to match the example from Hoffman on page 87.)

On the other hand, Betty Boop is clearly a cartoon character and maybe she would be happier in the cartoon character section of the joker collection, next to other simply-drawn characters. Her head to body ratio and round head emphasize her childnessish and every babyishness.   Pooh of course will have to be moved to another page where his style would be a better fit.

A third choice is to recognize that Betty Boop is a sitting joker. I have a large section of sitting jokers including a whole page of jokers with people sitting on crescent moons. Is that where Betty Boop would be happiest?

Lastly, Betty Boop is undeniably a looker and more than a little proud of her curves and charms.  Maybe, she belongs with the other great pinups girls from the erotica joker section?

Update 8-18-18  8:18pm

I just realized that in my section of the pinups, there is another Betty Boop Joker! Here she is:

Betty Boop Joker
Betty Boop Joker 
BTW, the Wikipedia article on Betty Boop is fantastic. She has some historic moments in the history of women in cartoons and in fighting abuse. And I quote:

Betty Boop was unique among female cartoon characters because she represented a sexual woman. Other female cartoon characters of the same period, such as Minnie Mouse, displayed their underwear or bloomers regularly, in the style of childish or comical characters, not a fully defined woman's form. Many other female cartoons were merely clones of their male co-stars, with alterations in costume, the addition of eyelashes, and a female voice. Betty Boop wore short dresses, high heels, a garter, and her breasts were highlighted with a low, contoured bodice that showed cleavage. In her cartoons, male characters frequently try to sneak peeks at her while she is changing or simply going about her business...

Attempts to compromise her virginity were reflected in Chess-Nuts (1932) and most importantly in Boop-Oop-a-Doop (1932). In Chess-Nuts, the Black King goes into the house where Betty is and ties her up. When she rejects him, he pulls her out of the ropes, drags her off to the bedroom and says, "I will have you". The bed, however, runs away and Betty calls for help through the window. Bimbo comes to her rescue, and she is saved before anything happens. In Boop-Oop-a-Doop, Betty is a high-wire performer in a circus. The ringmaster lusts for Betty as he watches her from below, singing "Do Something", a song previously performed by Helen Kane. As Betty returns to her tent, the ringmaster follows her inside and sensually massages her legs, surrounds her, and threatens her job if she does not submit. Betty pleads with the ringmaster to cease his advances, as she sings "Don't Take My Boop-Oop-A-Doop Away". Koko the Clown is practicing his juggling outside the tent and overhears the struggle inside. He leaps in to save Betty, struggling with the ringmaster, who loads him into a cannon and fires it. Koko, who remained hiding inside the cannon, knocks the ringmaster out cold with a mallet, while imitating the ringmaster's laugh. Koko then inquires about Betty's welfare, to which she answers in song, "No, he couldn't take my boop-oop-a-doop away". According to Jill Harness of Mental Floss, these portrayals of Boop fighting off sexual harassment on the animated screen made many see her as a feminist icon.[18]

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Jesters Dancing

My jester section grew so large that I've had to make increasingly fine segments to keep the size of the sections manageable. There was a time when separating out just the jester heads and the seated jokers were enough. Now I have separate sections for jesters that are standing, performing (but not juggling), juggling, and dancing.

This is the jester dancing section! There are 103 different dancers. The key to identifying a dancing joker is that their feet are not flatly planted on the ground, that's how I can tell that they are dancing!  In this article, I'll show a sample of the dancers one-by-one and then I'll have a catalog in groups of 9 of all that are categorized as dancers.