Thursday, January 18, 2018

Congress Jokers

First, a mystery. Is this "Congress Joker" part of the USPCC Congress brand and if so, why is he not mentioned in Hochman?

Mystery solved: Thanks to Tom VB. “It's a Canadian version  of Congress deck #606 printed by The U.S. Playing Card Co., Windsor, Ontario, ca. 1930. Hochman CDN25, Congress #606, page 174.”

Is this next joker the oldest of my Congress jokers, perhaps from 1895! Is it from a Congress No.606 deck  by U.S.P.C.C, 1908. (sources an article by Simon Wintle from June 2010 on The World of Playing Cards. Hochman P87). Some distinguishing features:
-    This image of the Capitol with the roads approaching it
-    It is a wide card
-    I also have a blue version of this with small lettering: CU 451
-    The US branding indicates it is post the renaming in 1891. The earlier Russell Capital cards had a different image of the Capitol on it.

Pink Congress Joker
Pink Congress Joker - Perhaps from 1895

Congress Playing Cards were first produced by the Russell & Morgan Company in 1881. They were one of the four original brands produced by Russell & Morgan. The others were Tiger (101), Sportsman (202), Army and Navy (303 and 505),  and Congress (404 and 606).  In 1891, the company changed its name to the US Playing Card Company. (Source: Wikipedia Article on USPCC  Jan 18, 2018). The original joker from the Congress brand decks featured a Moon Fairy.

This joker could date from 1899, it's also described on the WOPC Congress article. I don't keep it with my Congress Jokers (since they are themed as Americana and feature American monuments), it is instead grouped with the other characters sitting on crescent moons.  (source an article by Simon Wintle from June 2010 on The World of Playing Cards)

Original Congress Brand Jokers

 Around 1900, Congress switched to putting a picture of the US Capitol on their jokers.  The World of Playing Cards website. has some historical info on these decks.

Here's the 35 different (11/2020 (updated from 27 different  8/2020) Congress Jokers in my collection.

In this first set, notice the different road structures into the Capitol Building. The middle row on the right has the roads approaching it. Also, quite a different picture of the building.

While these might be too small to tell, the view and details on the building change as does the text on the word "Congress", the design around it, and the corner indices.

Want an idea of what jokers to look at next?  Here's a summary of the travel subsections of the joker collection: now all online and counted!
The total is 354 travel jokers (June 2020).

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