Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Steamboat Playing Cards - The Old Days

 Way back when, the Steamboat brand was the low-end of the Russell  card product lines. In fact, I think Steamboat was a commonly used low end brand for card makers. They sold these decks I guess on the Steamboats that steamed up and down the Mississippi River. 

In Sept 2021 on Ebay, I bought a Streamboat 7-11 deck.

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.

 It says Russell on the deck and the box but Hochman lists it as Kalamazoo. hmmmm

The deck is RU13 Kalamazoo, Hochman P129.  BUT, Kalamazoo? Russell? Who's the right publisher.  It turns out that these companies merged just about the time this deck was published.  Hochman has a particularly interesting chapter on the story of Russell and Kalamazoo software 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.

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Sunday, May 7, 2023

Money Jokers

 In the world of jokers, money is not that big a deal. There are maybe three dozen jokers which feature money. So, in a collection of tens of thousands of jokers with some themes like jugglers or clowns have hundreds of jokers, money is just not that big a theme.  I just created a one page money subsection in my Americana section which along with the Money Bag jokers is the sum total of the money jokers.  

The joker that got me focused on money arrived yesterday and I wasn't sure where to put him. The joker says "success" at the top and features a barrel of coins that has been tipped over and broken.   I got the joker when I bought a 1906 Kalamazoo deck in the April auction by 52 Plus Jokers and the best idea I had of where to put him was in the money section. (I paid $100 plus shipping). He's Hoffman P129, RU12 Kalamazoo.

1906 Kalamazoo Success Deck
Since I have the deck (not just the joker) and he is somewhat historical, I keep him with the other old decks that I've collected. 

Some of the other money jokers. The first one is simply a bag of money.

This next one appears to be a security guard or cop, with a bag of money. Stealing? Who will guard the guards? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
And here's a guard with a big jewel.
The next one is a banker which explains why I have these currently in the American people section.
And here's the same banker, or his identical twin, but htis time he is representing not  the First National City Bank of New York but the United Savings Bank of Cleveland.

Here's the ensemble shot of the money jokers.

Here's the backs of those nine jokers.

In the fighter joker section (which badly needs updating), there is a subsection of jokers with swords. Inside the sword section, there is a subsubsection called Money Bags.  Here's a few of them:

There are about two dozen Money Bags jokers, take a look!

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Advertising Jokers

 There are tons of jokers which fit into the advertising category. This article focuses on the "other" advertising jokers which do not fit into any of these categories:

  1. Casinos 
  2. Cigarettes,  LiquorBeer, Text jokers for drinks 
  3. Desserts and Candy 
  4. Coca Cola Jokers      
  5. Cars 
  6. Public Interest Messagesspace science and technology
  7. Logo type jokersGeometric Designs Jokers featuring "Joker" 
  8. Ads   - This article!   (Text jokers are separate)
  9. Jokers promoting playing cards , Ads for brands of playing cards

Again, here are the other types of advertising jokers.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Masks and Theatric Jokers

 One of my favorite sections of the collections has jokers with masks, some of which are theatric.  The mask section has recently been divided into this mask theatric section plus the:

-    Archaeological masks
-    Topsy Turvy Masks

 Here's a few images of the masks and theatric jokers. Let's start with the traditional symbols of the theater, the happy and sad masks. Symbol comedy and tragedy.

And two more variations of the masks symbolizing the theater.

Picking up the temperature a little, here's a contemporary pair of masked people:  WOW!

This next one is a special lovely lady joker. It works the mask theme to a new level. Notice her shadow, what does it reveal? Is her inner feline nature being picked up in her shadow? What else is hidden behind her mask and little costume.  Is the smoking lamp next to her suggesting that she controls a genie? Is the genie being controlled. It's confusing how I'm suppose to think about  her.  Should I think of her as a juggler? There is a juggler joker section but it is large and a little impersonal for her.  She's also scantily dressed and could fit in the girlie joker section of the collection. But she is in the mask section partially because this is an elite section and I'm partial to her. More importantly, she is both wearing a mask and juggling masks and has a masked theme which more than earns her a spot in the more complex mask and theatrical section. She's certainly theatrical with her spotlight creating a shadow revealing her inner nature, her daemon, her totem...

This next one is mischievous: the joker is clearly having fun and up to no good.  I imagine we could be good friends.

Here too, a sense of humor creeps out from behind the mask.

We're near the end of the featured solo joker show folks. 

Here's an artsy mask joker. When I showed it in the joker collectors group on Facebook, I learned from the wise Tom Van Berkum:  "This mask joker is from the Japanese ‘Mikimoto’ deck made by Nintendo - Kyoto in 1972."

And here are the ensemble shots of my mask and theater section. BTW, I foresee the possibility of splitting this section further into perhaps a theatrical and other mask section soon.

Arguably, there are three jokers on this page below which should be classified in the archaeological mask section. In R2, C3 and in R3, 1 & 3 also.  But, I think in Row 2,  C1 & C3  are a pair and so I have to keep them together. The C1 does belong in this group so here they stay.  The two in R3 however should probably be moved.  uhg.  I have to move them, rebalance the pages in both sections, rephotograph, and upload.  Maybe not today...

For a special treat, here are some shots of one part of my mask collection. Do NOT be confused by the fact that in my mask collection, there is a jester! I know it's confusing to have masks in a joker collection and a jester in a mask collection.  

There are also the two headed mask jokers which are listed in the two headed section.
Another subsection is the Archaeological masks

This article replaces the 2018 article about jokers and theatrical joker cards. (it did include a  video).
Jesters that might be related to these through the theatric theme include:
  1.  Dancing Jokers; These  are split into 
    1. Dancing jokers with Wands who dance in one of three directions: 
      1.  To the Right
      2.  Straight ahead 
      3.  To the Left
    2. Dancing Jokers with no wands 
  2.  Performers with cards or without cards 
  3. Juggling things 
There are also all the entertainers, musicians, "show girls" (ie erotica), and clowns who are not unrelated to theatrics. To find them, take a look at  the overall joker organizational system?

Archaeological Masks

 The mask section grew large and has this new subsection: the Archaeological Masks. This distinguishes them from modern and late European masks.  Here's a few of my favorites:

The concept of modern theater was largely developed in the Golden Age of Greece. I think the mask below dates from that era.  From reading Teaching History with 100 Objects, I think this might be a statue made of a Greek theatric mask (the originals were not made of clay and didn't last). And I quote:

With its exaggerated, grotesque features, this terracotta model shows the mask worn by the old man character in many comedies of the 300s BC and later. He has a wide grin, furrowed brow and bald head and wears a wreath with ivy leaves and clusters of berries. The masks worn in tragedies were different, with idealised features set in calm, serious, or sometimes pained expressions. 

 This mask is not a toy and he's clearly not fooling around.

And he's not alone in the world. Here's the back showing that there's a mob of these fellows.

This gorgeous mask is from the Beijing Opera.

 And here is the back of the Beijing Opera Joker.

And here are the ensemble photos of joker masks. As usual, I've done my best to assemble coherent groups on a page given the constraints of the page size and materials that I have to work with.

There are also the two headed mask jokers which are listed in the two headed section (which I usually call Topsy Turvy jokers are full duplex).
Another subsection (this one!) is the Archaeological masks
Here is the main current article on masked and theatric jokers.

This article replaces the 2018 article about jokers and theatrical joker cards. (it did include a  video).