Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Joker and Card Sites & Resources

Here is a directory of some resources for joker and card collecting. Clubs, books, stores, collectors, designers, publishers, and other resources for joker collectors. It's an ambitious idea which tilts towards those that I find useful or interesting. For suggestions, just put it in a comment.  

A Joker Collection, organized by themes. Amused by Jokers Am I dot com. This is my site and l list it in case someone takes this list and puts it somewhere else.

Facebook Groups
Facebook Closed Group on Joker Collecting. Run by Joop and Gejus.  Very active. Approaching 500 members in late 2020. Really really fun.
Playing Card Collectors Group. 10K members, very active.  
Pre 1950s Cards - Facebook Card Collectors 
 Joker Hunters - Alan Brunt's Facebook Group.  Trading oriented
Fake counterfeit cards, Facebook Group recognizing and trying to define and fight the illegal sale of copyrighted materials.

Card Groups & Major Directories
52 Cards Plus Jokers - Lee Asher, President - annual conference in Oct.  $25 / year!!!
52 Plus Jokers

International Playing Card Society -  £49.00 GBP
Plainbacks - A major source of info by Paul Bostock & Ken Lodge
DXPO - Joop's site with a joker of the month for 20 years! More about this later, it's fantastic!
The World of Playing Cards is an amazing resource especially Ken Lodge's page.
 World Web Playing Card Museum Another hard to believe it exists site. Created and maintained by Alexander Sukhorukov of Russia, he tries to inventory the world's playing cards. 
Forgotten People in Playing Card History, ie The Longley Brothers (very early US card makers) by Dave Seaney
Rory Rennick - an important researcher, historian, and performer who has pioneered the study of the portrayal of the African Diaspora through playing cards. 
The Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards. This is an early Trade Guild in the City of London, founded by Charter granted by King Charles I in 1628. The City of London granted its Livery in 1792. It is a craft, not a trade company.  Confused? Me too, I'm hoping to go visit one of their ceremonial meetings and see if someone actually wears a robe and carries a mace and orb.
Max Gutman's Spreadsheet of jokers from WWPCM

Books and Catalogs - Key Resources
#1. Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards by Tom & Judy Dawson, published by American Game Systems. c2000 If you don’t have a copy, get one.   am very grateful that it exists. There's also a price guide and graphical updated digital versions from both Conjuring Arts and four part version for Kindle.  
Paper Empires Vol I by Jason McKinstry. C 2019. It looks broadly at the early card makers detailing an extraordinary amount about them.
I've heard talk of A Fournier and Segeth catalogue and book. I'm looking for them
An inventory of Bicycle Decks - Bicycle by Joseph Pierson about the history of Bicycle Playing Cards produced by the Russell and Morgan and the United States Playing Card Company. Here's Mrs Robinson's Bicycle Cards pamphlet reproduced in full.

Hochmans is the BEST!

Museum Level Playing Card Collections 
The Cary Playing Card Collection at Beineke Library, Yale University. (I own a copy of the catalog and was an undergraduate there when the collection was put on public display in 1979) but there is no public display. The Cary collection grew by buying the Tom and Judy Dawson's collection in (year?).

Beineke Library of Old Books...And Playing Cards!

My Copy of the Cary Collection of Playing Cards

le Musée Français de la Carte à Jouer - French playing card museum in the SW Paris suburb Issy-les-Moulineaux. Here's my review of my visit in July 2023!
John at the Paris Museum of Playing Cards

Museum of the Playing Card of Turnhout in Turnhout Belgium (not far from Antwerp or Brussels) 
Bibliothèque Nationale de France (the Grimaud family collections) but it is not on display 
Deutsches Spielkartenmuseum of Leinfelden (extraordinary collections but no place to show them).
IPCS maintains a much more comprehensive list of playing card museums

Where to shop: Market Places
Ebay ! Look for jokers, playing card jokers, joker collections etc etc
Cartorama (German)

Where I shop:  Card Publishers and Distributors
Midnight Cards - My favorite! Randy Butterfield did me a big joker favor years ago for which I am grateful! Thanks. - I might have spent more here than any other new card site. It has some useful info. Example: How cards are made and Intro to Cards
Theory11 - Active creator of magic and elegant decks. great decks  EPC    Ben Jones
Peter Woods - published by - UK 
Kardify - card and magic vendor
Collectable Playing Cards Vendor
Games et al - English Gallery of old playing cards and board games.
Gamblers General Store - 
Penguin Magic and Cards: I noticed my receipt from Penguin had this nice touch  

Games et al - English
Denexa Games with their plastic cards, great card and game info, and their dyptik dragon jokers.  

Joker Collections - I would like to have the time to describe each of the joker collection sites highlighting what's interesting, strong, or unique about each one. Of course, I will one day but it's a question of time....I'm also interested in profiling the joker collectors. What sorts of people collect jokers?
Congress Playing Cards by The Congress Guy
Bicycle Playing Cards 
DXPO - more about this later, it's fantastic and in many ways, a model of excellence!
Jelle's Collection - Dutch, Coca Cola. He has tons of jokers to sell too
Emile Kiderlen from Holland's Joker website -
Johnny Jolly Jokers
Pascual Francisco Antolí - Pascual's Facebook page has a great display of  black and white jokers. There are 28 rows, 9 per row, plus a few on the bottom. I figure ~255. FUN!

Well-known playing card collectors,  historians, and articles
Quoting from the Congress Guy's June 2022 article in
“Clear The Decks”, 52 Plus Joker’s quarterly publication 
Some of these well-known collectors and historians are Judy Dawson (who should need no introduction. She and her husband Tom created the modern version of the Hochman Encyclopedia which is more than I deserve), Jason McKinstry (Paper Empires, ie early manufacturers), Joseph Pierson and Scott Kruse (Bicycle), DaveSeaney (National Card Company and Forgotten people in playing card history),  Matt Schacht, Glenn Currie, Colin Brady (Congress, Souvenir, others), Lee Asher (Patents and other areas), and Gejus van Diggele, Paul Bostock, Joop Mueller (European), Jelle Sietsma. 
 History of the Joker - Phil Neille - (Scroll down to "The Blank Card Comes of Age in Euchre" and I'll quote some here:
"It appears that Samuel Hart was aware of the “blank card” being used as a third and best bower at least by 1857. Catherine Perry Hargrave noted in her book A History of Playing Cards, that a joker by Samuel Hart in his brand called Club House Cards, dated 1857,(13) appears to be one of the first jokers. Another Joker card by the American Playing Card Company made their famous patriotic Union Cards, dated 1862, and is in the collection of the National Museum, Smithsonian Institution.(14) What is also of interest is that another joker card of 1863, by Samuel Hart, was labeled as an “Imperial Bower” – “This Card takes either Bower.(15) Hart’s joker of 1863 was not the first joker as some card historians have claimed. At least two jokers were made before 1863 and possibly more but were lost to history."

 The Major Card Companies 

Smaller card companies
other stuff to be sorted... 
Dot Pattern  

Instagram & Pinterest accounts -list?

Online Resources on Cards...
 International Playing Card Society -  £49.00 GBP
Final Answers by Gerard P Michon. It has a lot of card history. 
Playing Card Decks - Amazing collection of articles on cards. History, manufacturing, finishes etc.

General Collector Sites:
(SAVE ALL THIS from Final answers FOR AN ARTICLE ABOUT CARD HISTORY - I can quote him there) 
 Also, Gerard explains the emergence of the modern joker this way: "In the old game of  Jucker  from  Alsace,  the two most powerful cards are two jacks of the same color  (called  Juker,  regionally, or  Bauer  in German).  When that game was exported to the United States, its name was distorted to  Euchre  and  Bauer  became  Bower  (both spellings approximate the German pronunciations).  The game was originally played with a  deck of 24 cards  (it still is).  An American innovation was to introduce one extra card, called  best bower  that would take either bower...  This became known as  the Jucker card.  The  joker  was born."


  1. Here on FB is an amazing display of B&W jokers by Pascual Francisco Antolí

  2. I’m interested in the US history of game playing of vss which playing cards is very central. Here’s the best article on American plating card game history

    1. I read that article The History of the Joker Card - very well researched about the Joker's origin.

  3. Interested in American playing card games and joker history?


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