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:
Let's start with some romance! Some Kalamazoo jokers. Hochman says these started production on 1910. They're RU13 from Hochman P129.
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.
Russell Tourist Deck. I bought this one for $430 from Jason, Dec 2022. I 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 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:
- NYCC jokers
- USPC Jokers including Bicycle, Congress
- National Card Company and Perfection too
- Kalamazoo and Russell - this article
- Arcco and Arrow
- The History of the Joker, the Ace of Spades, and the Stamp Act
- Buying Old Jokers Requires Buying Old Decks
PLUS, there's the article on the mysteries of the mythologies of the images on some old jokers.