Sunday, September 26, 2021

The History of the Joker, the Ace of Spades, and the Stamp Act

  Marie Ryley posted this great article on Facebook about the history of the joker, the ace of spades, and taxes on decks of playing cards. Posted with permission.

The Joker is a playing card found in most modern card decks, as an addition to the standard four suits (clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades). The Joker originated in the United States during the civil war and was created as a trump card for the game of Euchre. It has since been adopted into many other card games where it may function as a wild card. 

The card is unique in that it lacks an industry-wide standard appearance. No card in the American deck has inspired more characters and uses than the Joker card. By the mid-1870s, the card depicted a jocular imp, jester or clown. Many characters were also employed, and the blank card became popular for politics, social satire, and advertising.

The Joker Lacked "An industry-wide standard appearance", thanks to the fates!

In the 20th century, the Joker card inspired the creation of the Batman character in the comic books of the 1940s. Later, various movies represented the Joker as a notorious character who was a humorous, and sadistic trickster. In 2006, portrayed in a wickedly humorous manner, the joker was rated as number one on Wizard Magazine’s “Greatest Villains of All Time.” For card collectors, the joker card is the most coveted card in the deck due to the variety of styles and incarnations. 

Currently, there are claims that the word “Jucker” influenced the establishment of the word “Joker” in Euchre. What one card historian made as a suggested origin of the joker has now turned into almost a certainty for many readers and some writers. For example, a Wikipedia article on the Joker playing card erroneously states, “It is believed that the term “Joker” comes from [the word] Jucker…”(2) However, no proof has been provided with references to substantiate this claim. 

Euchre was America’s National Card Game from about 1850 to 1910, so its history should be updated as best as we know it. In introducing games or variants of games, it has been said that apparent genius generally amounts to nothing more than the changing or blending of one or two concepts into the game of consideration (i.e., Euchre). The same applies to the creation of the Joker card in Euchre. 

This article will detail how the wild card, the Jack of Clubs, coupled with the extra 'blank card' added to American decks of cards, developed into the Joker as we know it today. 

SPADE ACE  The ornate design of the ace of spades, common in packs today, stems from the 17th century, when James I and later Queen Anne imposed laws requiring the ace of spades to bear an insignia of the printing house. Stamp duty, an idea imported to England by Charles I, was extended to playing cards in 1711 by Queen Anne and lasted until 1960. 



Over the years a number of methods were used to show that duty had been paid. From 1712 onwards, one of the cards in the pack, usually the ace of spades, was marked with a hand stamp. In 1765 hand stamping was replaced by the printing of official ace of spades by the Stamp Office, incorporating the royal coat of arms. In 1828 the Duty Ace of Spades (known as "Old Frizzle") was printed to indicate a reduced duty of a shilling had been paid.

 The system was changed again in 1862 when official threepenny duty wrappers were introduced and although the makers were free to use whatever design they wanted, most chose to keep the ornate ace of spades that is popular today. The ace of spades is thus used to show the card manufacturer's information.

 The exact design of the ace card was so important, it eventually became the subject of design patents and trademarking. For example, on December 5, 1882, George G. White was granted US design patent US0D0013473 for his design. His ace design was adorned with male and female figures leaning onto the spade from either side.

Note - all the pictures are from the AmusedbyJokersAmI collection.

For more info on the history of the joker from this website:

Dougherty  
NYCC jokers
USPC Jokers including Bicycle, Congress  
National Card Company,
Kalamazoo, and Perfection too

But I am primarily a visual thematic collector who loves the fool's errand, the mission impossible, the mental game of systematically cataloging and organizing jokers visually despite knowing that it's not possible. What a puzzle.  Click to see my overall organization of jokers into ten graphical themes.

 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Percussion Section of Musical Jokers


These are my percussion jokers, primarily drummers but also piano players, players of cymbals and bells, and at least two accordion players.  Take a look. Here’s one typical dummer.

Players Navy Cut Playing Cards

I should explain that there are percussion jokers elsewhere in the collection for various reasons such as they might be a part of a musical ensemble set (which has its own section) or have a two headed design which would put it in the topsy turvy section. 

There's also this drummer who is in the clown section although he's clearly drumming.

Drummer Clown in Clown Section

And these dancers who have no wands, they have cymbals who are in the dancer section.  Are they mis-categorized? Should I move them?

Tambourine Jokers Currently in the Dancing No Wands Section

 And in the midst of the performers section (with no cards), I find these two who also could be moved to the percussion section.

Tambourine Jokers Currently in the Performers Section

There are another eight percussion jokers in the musical ensemble section so that the sets can stay together. For example:

musical ensemble

Here are the ensemble shots of my percussion section. There about 58.


This next section has the cymbalists and the bell players.

More cymbals plus a harlequin tambourine player and a rabbit with some sort of drum. There are also the piano players who oddly, count as percussion (even though they are stringed).

There are two below with instruments that I am hard pressed to identify. Perhaps they are rattles?
Want to see more musical jokers?
  1. Stringed Instruments 
  2. Wind Instruments(the flute players recently split into their own section)
  3. Percussion including piano. this page!
  4. Musical Ensembles (to keep joker sets together)
There are also musical jokers in the topsy musical section.
There are also jokers with real musicians which are in the real people section. And Elvis, the King, of course has his own section.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Dancing Jesters No Wand

Welcome to a happy page of dancing jokers. This article features dancing jokers who are NOT holding jesters wands. Huh? Here's the thing: The dancing section got so big that I felt that I had to divide it into sections. This article has these dancing jokers with NO WANDS. Yup, they aren't holding jester wands or baubles. The overall dancing jesters section is as follows:
 
Dancing Jokers with Wands who dance in one of three directions:
-    To the Right
-    Straight ahead
-    To the Left
Dancing Jokers with no wands
- this one!
 



This next page has six jokers that I consider to be almost  moneybag jokers.  They're here because they are dancing and what a jester is doing is the more primary (primordial?) organizational system.  But, since they are holding a bag full of gold coins and coins are spilling onto the ground, they are closely related to the money bag playing card jokers. 










































The dancing section got so big that it's now subdivided into:
 
Dancing Jokers with Wands who dance in one of three directions:
-    To the Right
-    Straight ahead
-    To the Left
Dancing Jokers with no wands
- this one!

Dancing To the Left with a Wand

The dancing section got so big that it's now subdivided into:
Dancing Jokers with Wands who dance in one of three sections:
-     To the Right
 



The dancing section got so big that it's now subdivided into:
Dancing Jokers with Wands who dance in one of three sections:
-    To the Right
-    Straight ahead
-    To the Left - this one!
Dancing Jokers with no wands.


Dancing Jesters - Straight Ahead - With Wands

Welcome to a happy page of dancing jokers. This article features dancing jokers, holding jesters wands, facing directly forward (not to the left, nor to the right). Huh? Here's the thing: The dancing section got so big that it's now subdivided into:

 Dancing Jokers with Wands who dance in one of three directions:
-    To the Right 
-    Straight ahead - this page!
-    To the Left
Dancing Jokers with no wands.

 






 Want to see more dancing jokers? I bet you do. Because there were so many, the dancers got organized as follows:

 Dancing Jokers with Wands who dance in one of three directions:
-    To the Right 
-    Straight ahead - this page!
-    To the Left
Dancing Jokers with no wands.

 There's also jokers with cats, gals in bikinis (a few guys), and American monuments (just to name a few areas)

Dancing Jesters with Wands, To the Right!

Welcome to a section with many dancing jokers. There were so many dancing jokers, so many many many dancing jokers, that I felt that the section should be subdivided for easier navigation to find if a specific joker was already in the collection. For dancing jokers, here's the organization. It's based first on whether the joker is holding or NOT holding a jesters wands (bauble). And if they are holding a wand as so many are, it's about the orientation or direction that the dancer is facing.

 Dancing Jokers with Wands can dance in one of three directions:
-    To the Right 
- this page!
-    Straight ahead
-    To the Left
Dancing Jokers with no wands.

 





WANT TO SEE MORE JOKERS? I'll bet you do, they're very interesting and addictive aren't they?

For more dancing jokers, here's the organization.
 Dancing Jokers with Wands who dance in one of three directions:
-    To the Right 
- this page!
-    Straight ahead
-    To the Left
Dancing Jokers with no wands.

 If you'd like to widen your joker horizons, here's some jokers with cats, gals in bikinis (a few guys), and American monuments (just to name a few popular areas)

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Adobe Playing Cards 1988

Adobe Systems published a deck in1988 to show off the power of Postscript and Display Postscript. One of the  jokers made it onto the poster created byThe United States Playing Card Company Playing Card Museum in 1991.


Because this deck is a collectors item, I keep the jokers with the deck. I’ll put a photocopy of these jokers in my collection. Where? They’ll go in the garage art section, digital subsection. 








art section, digital subsection.