Sunday, January 20, 2013

My own Jokers designed

hangmouse, playing card, edmouse, penguin joker

I have for around the last 40 years, been paying attention to and enjoying the playing card jokers. Ofter times, I have thought what fun it would be to create my own jokers.  Recently, I had the opportunity to think about what sort of give-aways a company could give to its staff. I proposed that we print up our playing cards with our names on it. Nobody objected! (It helps that I'm the president of the company).

I even volunteered to help  design the jokers. To be honest, nobody else seemed to volunteer or even think about this rare opportunity to design our own custom joker.

I knew that I wanted to use our own characters, to be true to joker design traditions, but also to innovate. I picked the four characters and sketched out the concept listing elements that I wanted: topsy turvy, baubles (with a twist), juggling the pips, and so on..

Since I do not have the art skills myself for design (as anyone looking at this blog will suspect), I worked with a staff member, Juliana Jones (nee Juliana Whipple), to create  them. At first, she had NO idea what I was talking about. So I brought in some of my collection and showed them to her to show her what the elements should look like. Thanks Juliana.

And having helped design my own jokers, I can now check off one of the items on my bucket list.   Of course, I'm now thinking that maybe next year, we can take on designing an entirely original deck including all the faces. Would a transformational deck be too much to consider?


 I've been asked a few times to write a little more about the design of these jokers.

While I have ~1800 different jokers (circa 2015 or 16), I like these two among the best.

Disclosure. I designed them.

I feel that they are true to the joker and other traditions. On the joker with the mouse (His name is Ed Mouse) and penguin (no name), each character is holding a bauble, a jester stick with a miniature of his own head on it.

They are wearing jester hats and each is conjuring pips from the four suits.

On the jokers with the cat and mouse, the traditional relationship between the cartoon cats and mice of rivalry and friendship is portrayed by the fact that each has a bauble with the others head. I've never seen another topsy turvy joker with this twist.

 Since these are characters that are used in educational games (see HangMouse and Sound It Out on VocabularySpellingCity), they are conjuring educational materials. I hope you enjoy them a fraction as much as I do.

UPDATE: Oct 2017. I have now seen two other jokers where the jesters wand featured someone else's head. Both are in the "animal jokers, other" section of the collection. Both are monkeys with human heads.....

One more postscript (a PS, if you will) 12/26/2018, I've now seen a new variation of the head on the wand. The wand has a sad face held by a happy unicycling jester. Unlike the ones above, this is not from my collection. It was posted by Tom Van Berkum in the FB Joker Collecting Club group. 


  1. are you interested in a massive collection....possibly thousands of jokers?

    1. Yes I am interested in a massive collection of jokers. Contact me by commenting here or on Google plus...

  2. Wonderful to design your own jokers. Jesters brought me to joker cards, so am familiar with the bauble. Jesters had one so they could talk to it, as if they were talking to themselves - but talking to yourself means you're mad, right, but you're not, you're talking to a head on a stick, but oh it's yourself - so it's a clever little trick... and they could speak out loud and tell the bauble their thoughts, which may be the sorts to upset say a King, or VIP or influential courtier but it's rude to eavesdrop, isn't it, and are you really going to admonish a madman talking to a stick and saying seditious things for fun? The bauble could even answer back, silently. And turn and stare at onlookers to garner support. Also like a wand for a magician or a mitre for a bishop, it shows their job and is a symbol of their powers. So to me it's wonderful you included a bauble! (my favorite term too, others call it a marotte as you wld know). Saw a card online recently which was a hand holding a stick and on it was their head, as in, the stick was their neck; clever but not really funny, still a joker is a joker. Main thing is it's all fun.


Thanks for your input and for reading and thinking about jokers.