Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Steamboat Playing Cards - The Old Days

In the early 1900s, the Steamboat brand was the low-end of the Russell card product lines. Question 1: Was Steamboat  a category for many for card makers back then?. 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. Question 2: What does the "7-11" signify?  

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, c 1910.  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 named Benjamin Rosenthal who started at American Playing Card Co of Kalamazoo. He left American Playing Card 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.

What else to read about old cards?

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!   (
  9. Jokers promoting playing cards , Ads for brands of playing cards
  10. Text jokers  - not yet photographed
There's also an article on my vintage advertising decks of cards from the 1920s and into the 30s.

Again, here are the other types of advertising jokers.