ARRCO Jokers. I'm not sure which was the original joker but their first massive hit was the deck and joker published as a souvenir deck for the 1934 Chicago World's Fair.
Below are the first jokers mentioned in the Hochman chapter on ARRCO (P151 is MSN1a ARRCO Playing Cards, c1935). I have my three variations of him in the Jokers (not jesters) Standing section.
Hochman is where I always start. There's a chapter of the Hochman American Card Encyclopedia entitled "Narrow Cards" which focuses on the Bridge Era of card playing in the 1930s. Unlike poker and other games where players had around a half dozen cards in their hand, with bridge, players started each round with 13 cards in their hand so it was preferred to have narrow (not wide bridge-size) cards.
I'm confused by this "Narrow Cards" chapter of Hochman because it reads a like a history of Arrow and Arrco cards.
Here are the other articles about my early American manufacturers jokers. Note that this article, like a number of them, is a work in progress in which I'm looking at my joker collection which is organized by visual themes and look at it by manufacturer and history.
- NYCC jokers
- USPC Jokers including Bicycle, Congress
- National Card Company and Perfection too
- Kalamazoo and Russell
- The History of the Joker, the Ace of Spades, and the Stamp Act