Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Joker Poster - Inventory of my status against The Playing Card Museum Poster

 Do I have these jokers? What do I know about them? Let's work our way through the nine jokers in each of the eight rows of this poster. I'll admit which ones I don't have - or brag about those that I do - and share what I know about the history of each joker and how many variations I have of them.

This article, like its author, is a work in progress. This article has only the first row done whereas the author, at 62, can be said to have 6 of his rows done. 

Here they are:

1A.  This means Row 1, column A. In my collection, he's in the Performers with cards section. I have three variations and some duplicates. He is a British joker, created by Alf Cooke in Leeds in the 1920s in black and white. Corporations doing what they do, he seems to have become part of Universal Playing Card Company Limited and then, via Amalgamated Playing Card Company Ltd, part of Waddingtons. It's described on the World of Playing Cards. The key to the poster: Universal Playing Card Co., London, c 1940

1B. He is in the American People section of my collection (which doesn't quite make sense) and  is the source of much interest by me to figure out what myth he might relate to.  I have maybe four variations of him. He was first published in 1895 by the Standard Playing Card Company based in St Louis and Chicago. He first appears as SU2 on P137 of Hochman. The key says FASTMAIL (sic), Standard Playing Card co, Chicago, c 1905.

1C. He is in the topsy jokers with  clowns or jesters section. Two variations. Northbrook Playing Card Co., 1965.

1D. I don't have him. Spanish American War, Army Edition. Samuel Hart (NYCC). 1895. NY56 Mascotte #69. Hochman P 60.

1E. Head no hands section. Duplicates available. Virginia Slims, USPC for Philip Morris, 1984.

1F - Picture provided by Matt Schacht who says that this is the Dougherty Indicator. MOGUL CLUBS 315. A. Dougherty, NY (Joker first appeared in 1890)

1G -  Parachuting clown. In the clown section.  A Special edition. USPC. c 1950

1H Picture not clear enough. Waldorf #240. A Dougherty, NY c1909.

1G -  This card playing guy (what game could that be?)  is in the head and busts section, subsection with hands but NOT holding a wand. I have six variations. Special edition. USPC c 1950.

What about rows two through nine? I think a reasonable goal is for me to do one row every two days. I'm really hoping that people will give me info on the background of the jokers that I don't know about. 

 ROW 2

I do have A,B, D, E, F, and I.  I don't have C. I might have G or H, I need to check. 

Row 2, Column A - 2A. This jester head is on a stick so he's in that section of jester wands. Arrco Playing Card Co, Chicago, c 1975.

#2B. This jack in the box should in my opinion, be with the other jack in the boxes that are in with the jesters on a stick. I'll move him shortly. Currently, to be honest, he is in the clown section since he is clown-like and his pair, below him, is also a clown. USPC for Barton Playing Card Co. C 1960.

#2C. I do not have this dancing skeleton. Just don't. At least not yet. Want it.  I also can't find it in Hochman so it might not have deep roots, it might just be a modern novelty joker.  X-Ray Playing Cards Co. NY c 1940

2D - Topsy Jester or Clown Jokers - jester with wand, have dupe. Special edition, USPC 1935.

2E - Modiano. Have him with dupes and variations in the heads with hands section Modiana. Trieste, Italy. c 1950.

2F Clown with goose and balloon in the clown section.   Special edition. USPC. 1935. 

2G. - I don't have this laughing head which I have inserted a picture from Hochman P134.  He was initially published by the Kalamazon under the St Louis Playing Card Co  for the Russell.  Kalamazoo Playing Card Co for Metropolitan Playing Card Co, NY c 1905.

2H - Standing juggling joker that I don't have. Adking USA for Pacific Telephone Yellow Pages. c 1960.

2-9 Topsy Jester or Clown Jokers - Have twenty or so variations of this Western Publishing Joker, if you count different numbers at bottom

Row 3
I have A,B,F, and G. I'm missing a lot: C,D, E, H, & I. Humiliating! Can anyone help me?

3A Donkey - He is my US Political Section.  Kennedy Kards, Humor House Inc. 1963

3B - Jester coming through the looking glass. I have him in color and black and white.  This Jolly Joker matches Ad12, Triplicate No. 18, c1876, Dougherty on P71 of Hochman and P54 of Paper Empires. She's in the hands but no wand of the Heads and Busts section. Interesting note: the first PM that I got about this post commented on my using she to refer to "the character peeking through a hoop".  Funny that I hadn't really though about the gender until Dan mentioned it. Since the character has make-up, I immediately thought it was feminine but really, as a circus clown, it's more likely a guy.Dupes. NAGPKA #708. A Dougherty, NY for export. c 1925

3C-D-E - I don't have any of these.
3C - Clown with a parasol off to the side. USPC for EW McCarroll Co. Pittsburgh c 1925.
3D - Perfecto Americana. Atlas Playing Card. Co, NY c 1925.
3E - Smiling clown head.  Chess Deck. Unknown. c 1900.

3F - Nose itch head. It's in  in the hands but no wand of the Heads and Busts section.  It's the top one of this set. The joker is by Bernard Dondorf from Frankfurt, Germany. They were used from ca.1895 until 1933. Here's Joops page about him and his kind.  I have two variations above. Joop explains: "NASM stands for Nederlandsch Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij (Dutch American Steamship Company), which later became the Holland Amerika Lijn, better known now as HAL." Poster: B Dondorf, Frankfurt, Germany c 1895.
3G -  Topsy Jester or Clown Jokers - Historical clown.  Goose stepping clown. Originally published by A Dougherty, c1905. AD37. Hochman P77.  Climax #14. 

Row 4.
I have A,B,C,D,E, F, G, H, & I. I'm missing F..

4A. -  Topsy Jester or Clown Jokers - Russian. Have dupes and pair. 

4B -  The guitar playing joker was first made by King Press c1937.  It's listed as MSN51 King Press, P159 of Hochman. He's in the clown section. Imperial King Press. NJ c 1935. 

4C is this version of the Bicycle joker. Notice how the hat and plants are different than the standard Bicycle joker. The one in my collection is of course in the Bicycle section and is as best I can tell, a modern reproduction of the old one.

4D - Hubert Humphrey on a Hobby Horse. Humprey was known for his progressive views, persistence,  and his good nature: he was nicknamed the Happy Warrior. I have this one but right now (but i thought I didn't). He is categorized (currently) in the horse section but now that I understand more about him, I think he should be reunited with this matching joker who is in the politicians jokers section of the collection.  This joker is one of two from “The President’s Deck” published by Alfabet, Inc. manufactured by USPC.  United States Playing Card Co. c.1972.  Richard Nixon (US President) was on the Kings, Pat Nixon (first lady) was on the Queens, Spiro Agnew (Nixon's first vice president who was indicted, convicted, and incarcerated for corruption) on the Jacks. The jokers featured the two candidates who has run against Richard Nixon in the election: Hubert Humphrey (Democrat) and George Wallace (who ran as an independent and was a racist populist who is best known for his statement: "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever").  Hochman p.229, P13; Fournier, Playing Cards, North America 232.USPC Presidents Deck. Smith Western Publishing. Oregon. 1971. 

4E - This crooked joker is in the Odd Sized and Shaped joker section. Crooked Deck. Arnold Free Novelty. 1969.
4H -  Topsy Jester or Clown Jokers - Got them...

Row 5
Have only A &C. Need B, D, E, F, G, H, & I. 
I feel like such a loser...

Row 6
I need B, C, D, H, & I.

Row 7

Have A,B,G & H. Need B?, C, D, E, & F. 

Row 8

Have B,C, F, and H. Need A, D, E, H, and I.  

Here's the published key.


  1. Hi Johne,
    First can I congratulate you on your site. Although I gave up joker collecting some time ago, I’m still amazed and fascinated by both the individuality and abstract beauty of the joker. I recently came across and joined a Facebook Joker Collectors Club and its reawakened my interest.
    The Joker poster (above) was one of the topics up for discussion. It’s a fantastic poster, a joker collectors dream! I have one framed and behind non-reflective glass. I got it while at the CCPC Convention in Chicago. I believe I have the key somewhere but it has been 23 years so I need to look for it. If I can locate it how can I forward it?
    All the best to you
    Stay safe. Keep well
    A Potter

  2. Interview with Tom & Judy Dawson


  3. Good article on the history of the joker that wrestles with the Best Bower Euchre concept and the relationship with the Tarot Fool: https://hobbylark.com/card-games/The-History-of-the-Joker-Card


Thanks for your input.