Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Asian Girlie Jokers

 This is the Asian section of the girlie porn erotic pinup section of my joker collection. They certainly have a certain innocence about them.  This is also most certainly in bad taste and reprehensible but I am sort of an equal opportunity collector of jokers collecting the tasteful, the beautiful, the tacky, and awful, and others. I don't judge.

Here's all the ensemble shots.

Want to see the original old post of Pin Up Girlie Glamour Jokers (ie erotica and porn)? It's now split into bikini girls (the essentials covered), girlie illustration jokersold fashioned Asian  (this one), and harder core pornographic jokers.. There are also some Asian ladies in the Chinese joker collection that I bought (but have not organized or curated). 

For something lighter, how about some cartoon jokers?

Friday, September 18, 2020

Questions about the symbols on classic cards

 I have an array of Bicycle and other American royal cards in front of me and I have many questions.  If someone has already written all this up, I'd appreciate the referral. If not, here's some questions.  I'll focus on jacks in this post but I have questions about the queens and kings too.


Clubs - The jack of clubs is holding a long vertical rod-like thing with a sort of arrow head on one side (the top?) and a point on the other side.  It might be a stylized spear although the point on the back of it doesn't quite make sense. Anyone know anything about it?

The. jack of clubs  also has a leaf hanging from the hat or crown of the JoC (ie the jack of clubs).  Again, anyone know anything? The other jacks, JoS, JoD, and JoH have NO leaves hanging from their hats. Anyone know why?

Hearts. He has a mustache (JoC is clean shaven) and is holding something in his hand, maybe a leaf? There is the axe behind him. Yes, the JoS also has a mustache.

The Jack of Spades is holding a type of stick that has a sort of spiral to it.  It has three sections in the spiral (ie it turns around one and a half times). What is it and what is it called? The JofS is the only one shown in profile. Some people when laying poker can declare “One eyed jacks are wild.” (Note jacks shown in profile = one eyed jacks).

Diamonds.  The JoD is holding a rod which looks very similar to the JoC rod but with the point at both ends (not the arrowhead).  It has a curved thing coming off it which could either be the hand protector if it's a sword or, in some versions, suggests a crossbow.  Anyone know anything about it?  

Queens - Just a quick look....

These queens, in all four suits, are each holding a flower. The QofS also has some sort of stick. What is that stick? A scepter or a religious symbol. The top row right one has a sort of cross on the top. Actually, it's two circles under a pointed diamond so there are other possibly symbolic interpretations. In the one on the left left, she has a musical staff as a decoration that might be part of her clothes, might be a shield. The QofS are holding something with six symbols visible, a seventh potentially hidden by her hand. The symbol might be of a plant, perhaps a grass or grain.


The kings had a fixed identity in both French and British decks since the 1500s: Charlemagne (hearts), David (spades), Caesar (diamonds), and Alexander (clubs). The queens and jacks, not so much.

One of the keys is usually holding a sword which looks like it goes thru his head. It can be called “ The Suicide King” and declared wild.

The card numbers have an array of symbols associated with them:

An Ace stands for Desire
Two stands for Union
Three is for Faith
Four is for Satisfaction
Five symbolizes a Change
Six is for Adjustments
Seven is an epitome of Victory
Eight stands for Power
Nine represents New beginnings
Ten symbolizes Success

A longer somewhat consistent explanation is available at:

The Suits. I won't write much about the suits because I've read a fair amount about them. There seems to be a lot written. Simply, modern American suits are a descendent of the French four suits which can be traced to several concepts including the classes of society. The diamonds come from pentacles, the clubs use to look more like actual clubs for hitting, the hearts were previously cups, and spaces somehow descended from swords. Some designers have explored five or six suit decks. Modern Spanish decks have suits that look quite different . And historically, the suits were all over the place.

Can anyone point me towards a good write up about the symbolism on the modern face cards?

I emailed in March 2023 Ken Lodge who is a great authority on the history of cards. He answered:

The attributes of the court cards have little or no significance beyond showing them to be kings, queens and soldiers.   A lot of them have been reinterpreted or misinterpreted over the centuries, so, for example, the leaf on the JC was originally a feather in his cap.    Similarly, the odd object held by the JS is a weird interpretation of what was a pike head.   If you look at older cards, you can see the way in which poor wood-cutting ability obscured some of the objects on the cards, so that when they were redesigned, mostly in the 19th century, they were not recognized correctly.   The object held by the JS is meaningless - it isn’t an object.   The leaf held by the JH was originally the head of a staff.

If you look at my blog and the plainbacks website, you’ll see lots of examples of earlier cards, which may answer some of your questions.

I also looked at a Ken Lodge article on WOPC which traces Dougherty's designs for face cards from the mid 1800s to the end of the century. Why care about Dougherty (and I quote): Andrew Dougherty was one of the biggest American card-makers in the 19th century, if not the biggest. After a relatively early start in a small way in 1848, at which time he produced packs of rather poor quality in terms of the cardboard he used, but which had very unusual courts, he invented and developed new methods of production and his business expanded hugely, so that in the 1870s he was producing three and a half million packs a year. 

I notice that at the bottom of that article, he shows the face cards from two Dougherty decks at the end of the 1800s. I notice that on both of them (and for the first time), the jack of clubs has the leaf sticking out of his head. hmmmm.

Other historical articles on this site?

Monday, September 14, 2020

Antlers, Horns, and Tusks Jokers

 With about 500 different animal jokers, and more arriving weekly, chaos threatens. How to put them in albums so I know where to find them.  I’ve created order by grouping them by species. At first it was easy, all the cats belong together. And all the dogs. 

But as I've had to handle more than household pets and not being a biologist, I built my own categories of the animal kingdoms. I am not following the conventional system with domain, kingdom, phylum, genus, and species.  Why not? Because I don't understand it . Today's article is about jokers with animals with antlers, horns, and tusks. Like this one:

This joker features a deer with corkscrew antlers from Cypress. I know that it's from Cypress since I've seen the back of the joker.

 This is the Official System that I did NOT use

Bull fighting: Let's make it part of our history. Only our history. No more BS or bullfighting.

This animal is past his prime but his remnants are pretty durn impressive.
This joker is making a point about environmentalism and a lack of respect for the world that we depend on. I totally agree.
Walruses have tusks!

Want to see other types of critters on jokers? Monkeys, Bears and other furries;   Swimmers Slimeys and Sea Creatures;  cats dogsflyers, and horses.

Here are the jokers with antlers, tusks, and horns, about fifty. The construction and balancing of each page of nine is an art project. 

That makes about 54 different jokers in the antlers, tusks, and horns section. Can you think of a better name?  Other animal section: 
    1. Ensemble Animal combinations (cats AND dogs)
    Animals: Flyers - Bee Boy
    Animals: Flyers - Bee Boy
    1. Cats  or  Dogs Now there's a big cat subsection! 
    2. Flyers:  Birds, OwlsBees,  Butterflies  & Dragons 
    3. Horses , zebras, donkeys, giraffes ...
      1. Fantasy horses: centaurs, unicorns, pegasus
    4. Monkeys, bears, and others with paws 
    5. Animals with antlers, horns, and tusks
    6. Varmints - the annoying small wild animals
    7. Reptiles, amphibians, sea creatures  

Want jokers that walk on two legs? Like pretty scantily dressed girls?? How about jesters dancing?  I’d personally recommend: jokers with masks. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Standard Playing Card Manufacturing Company

This article review the joker playing cards in my collection that were created by Standard Playing Cards during its 40 year life. I also pursue my obsession with discovering the folklore mystery surrounding a Standard joker.

Standard Play Card Manufacturing Company was founded in 1890 and bought or merged as part of the creation of USPC in 1894. But USPC ran Standard independently until it was merged into Consolidated Dougherty in 1930. 

My two primary sources about Standard playing Cards:

  1. WOPC has a page with a section on Standard Playing Cards (the World of Playing Cards).
  2. Hochman's Encyclopedia, compiled by Tom and Judy Dawson. pages 137-144

 In terms of dating cards, there’s a question of the tiny code numbers USPC placed on their jokers. During Standards years of being an independently operated wholly owned sub, the coding system of small letters on the aces and jokers of USPC was used but the intertwined US in the corner was not added. I think. 

This joker below may have been the second joker that Standard published, SU2 c1895. It has the dotted background and no product codes on it.

It is also the featured mystery on the article about American Folk Tales and Mythology on jokers in late 1800s.

I have three jokers of this design: one with no fine print (above), one T 574, and one P220Z.

What of the saying: "IV'E GOT HIM (sic)"?

 I have two that might be from SU11 Jap #20, c1910.  P137 of Hochman. There’s another on P140.

Two of my backs are geometric red, one is a red with a lady with a hat, lots of flowers, leaning on a rail fence.  The Standard Backs! (as an aside, this count of three was current 9/6/2020 but now it's 10/18/2020 and I have five of these. I've been on a collecting binge lately thanks to the pandemic).

I think of him as the Baggie Clown on P139 of Hochman.

The  Clown & Goose below is described on P139 of Hochman.

The Liberty Bell first appeared on a Standard Joker in 1874 as shown in Hochman on P137, #1776.

 Standard Jokers - This collection's inventory with Hochman page numbers: I still need to....

- Sovereign P140 - in advertising designs section
- American Beauty Baggy Clown p139 c1910 in clowns section

WOPC has a page with a section on Standard Playing Cards.
Hochman's Encyclopedia is the major source, pages 137-144

 Here are the other articles about my older American jokers:

NYCC jokers
USPC Jokers including Bicycle, Congress  

National Card Company and Perfection too 
Kalamazoo and Russell 
- Arrow and ARRCO
Standard  - this article

Also, there's the article about American Folk Tales and Mythology on jokers in late 1800s.

Folklore Mysteries from late 1800s on Joker Playing Cards

I'm looking for help shedding some light on some late1800s American folklore. 

I'm  trying to understand the mythology or folklore behind some jokers designed in the very late 1800s.
-     A "Put the Evil in the Box" type story - A TRUE MYSTERY
-    Some Easter symbolism  - this is mostly figured out
-    The Brooke Soap monkey - also mostly documented
-    The little imps - This turns out to be the Palmer Cox Brownies, a contemporary character from the late 1800s

Put The Evil Back in a Box.  My remaining mystery is the image where an apparently good little mythical creature is capturing an evil little creature in a box or trunk. It has a caption of “Iv'e got him” sic." 

On this card, an apparently good little mythical creature is capturing an evil little creature in a box or trunk. It has a caption of “Iv'e got him” sic. It's in the tradition of the “Diable en Boite” or “Devil in a Box" French stories. The story of Pandora also comes to mind.  Does this image reflect any story that might have been known and popular in the US in the late 1800s?

They might be imps or elves or spirits or leprechauns (weren’t the Irish immigrating in great numbers at that time?).   It was first published in 1895 by the Standard Playing Card Company based in St Louis and Chicago. Hochman. SU11 JAP #20 P140 is the first reference.

Here are my three jokers with the same image, the other two were published by the same company after it was bought by the US Playing Card Co but while it was run as an independent company.

Easter Egg Hare and Little Folk. 

This next joker card was first published in 1885 by National Card Company of Indianapolis and NY and it shows a bunny rabbit being hatched from an egg. Behind him, there are two small mystical creatures with a tool for hitting, sort of like a pick axe. It has an acorn on it. It is either to help the bunny break the egg or to bonk the bunny on his head. 

While it's clear that the little folk are surprised, it's not clear to me whether they are scared by the bunny or just surprised.  It appears, using current thinking, to be Easter-related. Anyone know anything about them?

 This joker started at the National Card Co, Aladdin deck but became a USPCC brand through acquisition. Hochman. NU6 Aladdin #1001 c1885 P110.
This imagery seems to have been picked up in a number of more recent jokers. Below on a set of 9 notice the middle row middle jokers and the lower row, middle jokers. In the middle one, the witch emerging from the egg is clearly a bad witch.

Note there were initially four mysteries about imagery but two of them have been illuminated to my satisfaction. You can read about them below the two live mysteries.

The Brooke's Soap Monkey with His Human-Headed Jester Wand.

This monkey joker is among my favorites. It has a monkey holding a jester's wand which, unlike almost all jester wands which feature the head of the person holding it, it has a person on the end. It’s the head of Punch from Punch and Judy, descended from the Italian tradition (thanks Dan!). BTW: This idea that the jester's wand, or baubble, might have a head different than that of the holder is explored in this article about designing my own jokers.

The monkey in this picture interestingly enough had a previous role as the character for advertising for Monkey Brand Soap.  No, you could not make this stuff up.  Check out this advertisement from the 1880s including the clever poem:

The Palmer Cox Brownies.

This fourth set of images on jokers with the little mystical Brownie creatures is no longer a mystery to me. They are the Brownies as depicted by Palmer Cox in the late 1800s. They were widely known back then as the Palmer Brownies. They were popular in cartoon strips, books, and video games. OK, I'm kidding about the video games but they were so popular that the name was used for a Kodak Brownie Camera, the youngest girl scout levels, and a brand of mixes for chocolate Brownies. 

I wonder sometimes how much the National Playing Card Company (Indianapolis and NY)   paid for the right to put these brownies on their jokers.

The story in teh card below turns out to be a commentary on the playing card industry. Here's the key:
Uncle Sam - The American Playing Card Company. This joker was published by them
NCC - The National Card Company
SPC - Standard Playing Card Company
CC - Consolidated Card Company (NYCC)
Overall, the American Card company seems to be under attack by a deluge of snow and snowballs. 

 Here are some  articles about my older American jokers:

NYCC jokers
USPC Jokers including Bicycle, Congress  
National Card Company and Perfection too 
Kalamazoo and Russell  - this article
 Midland, Arrco and Arrow Playing Cards

And here are some happy mostly contemporary dog jokers!

Friday, September 4, 2020

Kalamazoo and Russell Playing Cards

 Let me show you my jokers from the Kalamazoo and Russell Card Manufacturing companies. As background, this is one of a series of articles looking at my older American jokers:

- Dougherty jokers
NYCC jokers

USPC Jokers including Bicycle, Congress  
National Card Company and Perfection too 
- Kalamazoo and Russell  - this article
- Standard 

Let's start with some romance! Some Kalamazoo jokers. Hochman says these started production on 1910. They're RU13 from Hochman P129.

The “Smart Set 400” brand with named backs was introduced in c.1906 by the Kalamazoo Playing Card Co. in Michigan. Kalamazoo subsequently merged with the Russell Playing Card Co. in around 1913 or 1914. Thereafter the “Smart Set 400” series continued to be published by the Russell Playing Card Co. under its own name (quoted from World of Playing Cards). Here's my four

The four decks were named for the girls on their backs: Flying Girl, Dreaming (copyright 1909 RHILL), The Fortune Teller  (copyright 1909 by RHILL), and Day Dreams (F.A.&S Co.). Day Dreams is the narrower joker with the tear in the middle.

Kalamazoo Steamboat 7-11 Cards.  c1910. This deck is closely related to the Smart Set Jokers pictured above.  Both decks were published just at the time when the Russell and Kalamazoo merged. The deck is RU13 Kalamazoo, Hochman P129. Way back when, the Steamboat brand with the low-end of the Russell (and others) card product lines.   

The deck has definitely been used. Been used a lot. I sure wish the deck could tell me who bought it new, who played it with it, and who stored it but of course, walls and decks of cards cannot talk.  I can try to imagine but it's just my imagination.


Hochman has a particularly interesting chapter on the story of Russell and Kalamazoo in the first decade of the 1900s. There was a hot salesman working named Benjamin Rosenthal who started at American Playing Card Co of Kalamazoo. He left when the president took his territory away to give to his son. So Benjamin became a sales agent for Kalamazoo Paper Company which was struggling and quickly got them back on track, focused on cards, and in doing so, became an executive. They bought Russell Card Co of Milltown NJ and merged them.

Rustler was first introduced by Russell in 1906. The original design called Russell's Regulars had stars in the corner, It's RU5. Mine has a geometric back. 

My second Rustler is likely RU 17 published in 1912, Hochman P130. It's in the American people section of the collection, cowboy subsection.

Russell apparently won a Blue Ribbon and put it on a joker that he started publishing in 1930, RU8a  P127 Hochman. 

Dandy Dapper  RU18 P131

1912 Statue of Liberty RU18 P131

 This Whig King joker first appears on P133 & 135 in 1904 and 1905 as either Ru24 or  RU37b. Its associated both with Ruseel and the Universal Playing Card Company. There's some mystery about Universal and it's acquisition or relationship to Russell.  

Russell Tourist Deck. I bought this one for $430 from Jason, Dec 2022I have the entire deck including one joker and the original box. It is copyright 1886: Russell & Morgan Pt'g Co (sic). How's this for a charming joker, what do you make of that facial hair? He is in the animal / horse subsection.

 The Tourists deck is on P91 of Hoffman, US9 Tourists #155.  "`Tourists were graded between Tigers and Sportsmans. Quoting from an 1887 advertisement, "They are a happy medium between unenameled cards (Tigers and Steamboats) and enameled cards (from Bicycles upward), having the finish of the former and the same style back as the latter. Each pack is in a neat truck box.'" Here's the ace of spaces.

Here's the picture on the box

The back of the cards

The Wild Frontier by Russell. I like this Frontier joker and Picket deck by USPC despite how worn and ratty it is. He's 1914 US30a Picket #515 on page 101 of Hochman. 

Kalamazoo & Russell: What's the story? Willis Russell started Russell Playing Cards in Milltown NJ around 1905  and made lovely cards but the company declared bankruptcy in 1911. It continued to operate and was put up for auction in 1913.  It was bought by Benjamin Rosenthal of the Kalamazoo Paper Box and Card Company the two entities were combined. He also bought the American Bank Note Companies playing card line a year later.  

Let's summarize the Kalamazoo / Russell jokers in the collection (with the page from Hochman):

- Rustler P126 & 130
- Blue Ribbon P127  
- Smart Set P129  
- Baggie clown 130  NEED TO FIND
- Dapper 131
- Aristocrat 131  NEED TO FIND
- Statue of Liberty 131  
- Whig King P133

Articles coming soon on:

Midland. P149. 150 Topsy Clowns
Arrco - Geometric Man. 1935 P151
Arrow - Dancer. 1925. P151

Here are the other articles about my older American jokers:

PLUS, there's the article on the mysteries of the mythologies of the images on some old jokers.