Thursday, November 24, 2016

About ME - Jesters, much like Jokers

About Me; My name is John (John Edelson). I collect jokers. I live in South Florida. I have about 2400 joker playing cards. I am a general collector of jokers (not specialized by vendor, country, or type). I think my main contribution to the joker community has been a focus on the creation of a taxonomy of jokers.  

More about me: I ride my bike for exercise. I have a job.  I'd like to buy jokers particularly if I can get large numbers of interesting ones. What else is money for? I'd be pleased to swap my duplicates with other collectors. I mostly write in short declarative sentences. I have a great sense of humor.  I vote democratic and I don't buy cheap liquor. I learned both of these principles from my mom.

The picture below is a rare one in that it has me, the joker collector, pictured on the blog! Enjoy this rare glimpse of the mad genius! I was in Prague in 2016 when I met this jester. I was 58.

John Edelson
John (collector) with a Jester, Eastern Europe. Oct 2016

While I collect playing card jokers, I have picked up a few items closely related to jokers.  For the record, I stay away from clowns, scary or otherwise. It's clear to me that jesters and jokers are a completely different breed from clowns.

Jester - Joker Model
Jester - Joker Model

This little plastic figurine is an amazing joker or jester

These inlaid wood boxes are from the south of Spain. The bottom one was bought in the late 1980s. I have new one, not yet pictured, bought in November 2016.
Joker Box - Inlaid Wood - Southern Spaing
Joker Box - Inlaid Wood - Southern Spain
I met a jester who was behaving himself so I took his picture.  He was in Eastern Europe. Specifically, Prague in the Czech Republic.  October 2016.

A Jester in Prague, Czech Republic
A Jester in Prague, Czech Republic

Oops, there I am again. I was dared to get photographed with these two famous characters who have been recently made into fluffy stuffed toys. One is the HangMouse featured on VocabularySpellingCity.  The other is Pinkerton Sciefus, or Pinky or Sciefus for short, who is a featured character in Science4Us.
John Edelson
John with the HangMouse & Sciefus
Clowning Around - What a Joker!
The new HangMouse stuffed animal is to commemorate a number of improvements in the HangMan game including making it more educational by introducing hints related to the use of the word or its definition.  Sciefus is here to mark the increased acceptance that time spent in K-2nd on science more than pays for itself in terms of improved literacy and math skills.

And here I am again. First, in costume as Batman with Catwomn at Dillard Elementary Literacy Night. Same night, I'm also with Harley Quinn and then some kids before I transformed. Miao!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Bicycle Playing Card Jokers

These are a few pages form my playing card collection which focus on Bicycle Playing cards.  The US Playing Card company is the publisher of these bicycle jokers.  I quote from the website at the bottom of this post  some info on the history of the Bicycle cards and the jokers.  

The first page are Congress playing card jokers which also come from the US Playing Card Company and have a good history. Then there are three pages of  Bicycle (capital B) Playing Card Jokers (with some others as filler), the last  page has jokers with people on bicycles.

The US Playing Card Company has turned into the 800 pound gorilla of the playing card industry.  To our delight, they have started catering to us collectors by producing a large number of variations on the Bicycle Desk which are ideal for collectors.

Bicycle Playing Card Jokers
Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 1

Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 2
Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 2

Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 3
Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 3

Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 4
Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 4

Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 5
Bicycle Playing Card Jokers 5

Excerpted from the Bicycle Playing Card website:

Our long, rich history began when A. O. Russell, Robert J. Morgan, James M. Armstrong and John F. Robinson Jr. formed a partnership and purchased from the proprietors of The Cincinnati Enquirer what was then known as the Enquirer Job Printing Rooms. The spaces occupied the first and second stories of the building at 20 College Street in Cincinnati, Ohio. The firm commenced business as Russell, Morgan & Co., referring to the two printers in the partnership.
While on College Street, the firm printed theatrical and circus posters, placards and labels. By 1872, the business had increased so much, it was forced to seek larger quarters, and in November 1872, it moved into a new, four-story building on nearby Race Street in downtown Cincinnati.

Early in 1880

Mr. Russell proposed to his partners that they embark upon the manufacture of playing cards, an industry monopolized by several East Coast companies. The partners agreed and arrangements were made to add two additional stories to their building, making it six stories high. Many new machines were designed and built expressly for Russell, Morgan & Co. The first deck of playing cards was completed on June 28, 1881. About 20 employees manufactured 1600 packs per day.

In 1891

Russell, Morgan & Co. became The United States Printing Company. Only three years later (1894), the playing card business had grown to such proportions that it was separated from the Printing Company, becoming The United States Playing Card Company.
The United States Playing Card Company gained immediate advantages, for it acquired other notable companies: The Standard Playing Card Co (Chicago), Perfection Card Co (New York) and New York Consolidated Cards Company. New York Consolidated Card Company had antecedents dating back to 1833 when Lewis I. Cohen perfected his four-color press for printing playing cards. The famous "Bee"® Playing Cards still issued by The United States Playing Card Company, had originated at the New York Consolidated Card Company in 1892.
Congress® playing cards is one of the original brands from 1881 which is still in production today and the card of choice for sophisticated bridge players. Likewise, the world-renowned Bicycle® playing card brand has been in continuous production since 1885.

The Joker

The Joker is an American invention dating from about 1865 and has made different appearances in the Bicycle® card line. The first type represented a man on a high-wheeled bike. The bicycle later acquired two wheels of normal size. Then followed a series of playing card kings on bikes. These cyclists wheel past a milestone marked "808." Contrary to some opinions, this number has no mystical meaning. It is merely a reference number distinguishing this brand from others (such as "606") by the same company.

By 1900

The United States Playing Card Company expanded again, moving from downtown Cincinnati to a newly built factory in Norwood. Situated on over 30 acres, the facility would eventually accommodate over 600,000 square feet of manufacturing operations.
World War II

During World War II, the company secretly worked with the U. S. government in fabricating special decks to send as gifts for American prisoners of war in German camps. When these cards were moistened, they peeled apart to reveal sections of a map indicating precise escape routes. Also during the war, The United States Playing Card Companyprovided "spotter" cards, which illustrated the characteristic shapes of tanks, ships and aircraft from the more powerful countries. The company further assisted by sewing parachutes for anti-personnel fragmentation bombs.

In 1986

The company acquired Heraclio Fournier, S.A., the largest playing card manufacturer in Europe. In 1987, The United States Playing Card Company acquired Arrco Playing Card Company, the third largest playing card manufacturer in the country. International Playing Card Company, a Canadian subsidiary of The United States Playing Card Company since 1914, maintained its own manufacturing operation from 1928 to 1991. Currently, International Playing Card Company is a sales and marketing organization located in Ontario. The United States Playing Card Company was acquired by a series of new owners: Diamond International in 1969, Jessup & Lamont in 1982, Frontenac in 1989.

In late 1994

However, after a long and tedious struggle, Company Management, along with some local investors were ultimately victorious in accomplishing a buyout. The ownership of The United States Playing Card Company was finally returned to its Cincinnati roots.
  • The United States Playing Card Company introduces Iraq’s Most Wanted Decks, which identified the most-wanted members of President Saddam Hussein’s government. When introduced, 750,000 decks were sold in one week.
  • Texas Hold ‘Em Poker craze boosts sales
  • The United States Playing Card Company entered into a licensing agreement with Techno Source expanding the Bicycle® branded cards into the handheld electronic game category.


  • The United States Playing Card Company acquires KEM, Pisano Dice and Gamblers General Store & Poker Chips
  • The United States Playing Card Company becomes subsidiary of Jarden Corporation
  • The United States Playing Card Company entered into a licensing agreement with Encore expanding the Hoyle® branded cards into the PC software category.


  • The United States Playing Card Company introduces pre-shuffled cards
  • The United States Playing Card Company entered into a sponsorship agreement with the World Series of Poker the single largest poker tournament in the world.
  • Bicycle® Take the Train® and 4-Mation® products are launched and become proud winners of the 2007 Seal of Excellence Award by Creative Child Magazine.
  • Bicycle® Po-Ke-No® product is launched and becomes a winner of the Fun Stuff™ Award by Parents' Choice.


  • The Bicycle® Prestige™ Deck, premium playing cards for the competitive player, is introduced
  • The United States Playing Card Company entered into a licensing agreement with World Series of Poker and introduced a line of playing cards and poker accessories co-branded as Bicycle® and World Series of Poker playing cards.
  • The United States Playing Card Company entered into a licensing agreement with Jacks & Jokers LLC expanding Bicycle®, "Bee"®, Aviator® and Tally Ho® cards into the apparel category.


  • We celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Bicycle® Playing Cards!
  • Navarre Corporation and Jarden Corporation announce expanded License agreement for new line of Bicycle® Playing Card Brand interactive games
  • The United States Playing Card Company donates all profits from the Bicycle® “Hope for Haiti” decks to relief efforts
  • The United States Playing Card Company entered into a licensing agreement with world-renowned magician David Blaine to create a magic playing card program.


  • The United States Playing Card Company enters into a licensing agreement with Tribune Media Services, a division of Chicago-based Tribune Company, for the rights to manufacture and distribute the Jumble Card Game based on the Jumble Word games found in papers around the country.
  • Bicycle® Playing Cards are expanded into digital entertainment by launching their first Facebook and iOS games.
  • The United States Playing Card Company launches a Bicycle YouTube ChannelTwitter, and Facebook page for news and updates.
  • The United States Playing Card Company begins strategic partnership with theory11 for collaboration in web ventures and playing card design.
- See more at:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Topsy Turvy Jokers: Upside Down Both Ways

Here are some jokers that I call, topsy turvy jokers. What I mean by topsy turvy jokers is that they are symmetrical with no up or down.  I'm not totally strict about this since, for example, the first two pictured, are not totally symmetrical yet there is no way from the joker side to decide which side is up.

I'd be very interested in knowing if anyone has a better term for this style of jokers than topsy turvy. Comments please? UPDATE: I've been told common terms are mirrored or duplex jokers.

These first two are original jokers designed by me as part of promotional decks for my day job.  Click to read the description of the process of designing the jokers.

Ed Mouse & Penguin Jokers
Ed Mouse & Penguin Jokers

Back of the Cards

HangMouse Cat & Mouse Joker
HangMouse Cat & Mouse Joker

 The next two are from the GoNoodle deck. GoNoodle also is a SAS provider of educational materials primarily to elementary schools. We also both make really well designed jokers!

I like jokers, topsy turveys, and monkeys. Imagine my joy at finding all these design elements together!

 I really liked Toy Story by Pixar and I particularly liked some of the characters.  Wonder wonder of joys, here are some of my favorite characters on topsy turvy jokers.

 Another favorite of mine: a classical but original jester with his jester wand.

Polo players on a joker, symmetrically!

Another well rendered classical topsy turvy jester joker.

Another horsey themed topsy turvy joker but this time with a clown. As you may know, I don't like clowns on jokers.

The next two are long standing favorites of mine in that I remember collecting them in 1979. I was 21. I took a trip with my parents (technical exchange, my Dad was a big time space engineering technical type) to the Soviet Union. The next joker is from Russia, the one below from Finnish Air.

The jokers are pictured inside the plastic holders that I keep them in. These pages are sold primarily to collectors of baseball playing card.

I think I have 84 jokers that I count in the topsy turvy section of the joker collection.

The ones in the top photo in the top left and top right spots are original jokers designed by Time4Learning and VocabularySpellingCity.

 I'm particularly fond of the middle joker in this next set and the one on the middle row on the far right.  The reason is that I collected both of them on the same trip, a trip to Leningrad and Moscow form the US. It was 1979, I was about 21 years old. Leningrad of course is no more, now it's back to St Petersburg.

This post was updated on Sept 22, 2017 with the most recent set of topsy turvy jokers.  My photography is better than it was but still not good enough.

Here's an early September 2018 update. I now have about 175 topsy turvy jokers. Here's a quick video of them, please excuse my production values.