Sunday, November 19, 2023

52 Plus Joker Conference 2023

 In October, of 2023 I went to my first ever Playing Card Conference. I went to a town near Cleveland to attend the 2023 52 Plus Joker Conference. I had a fabulous time meeting the people, learning about cards and their history, and collecting a ton of jokers and decks of cards to take home.

The People

I was mostly just having a good time. As in, I somewhat squandered the opportunity to get pictures of the famous and hallowed celebrities of the playing card world. 

I was greeted at the entrance by the doyenne herself, the queen, Judy Dawson. Having spent untold hours looking at the Hoffman Encyclopedia that she and Tom compiled, this alone was worth the trek to Cleveland.

The Doyenne, The Queen: Judy Dawson with John Edelson

I also met (mentioned in no particular order):  Lee Asher (Visionary Leader),  Dave and Kevan Seeney (CongressGuy & Card Historian) , Phil Bolhagen and wife (Collector, Author, Dealer), Steve Bacon (Two for His Heels), Rosemary Reid (Magician, designer, empowerment), Paul Bostock (Worshipful Society, financial wit), Joop (my 2nd meeting with him and I still stumble on the pronunciation of his name), David Blaine, Emily Sleight, Alex Clays,  Greg Loschen and so on and so on and so on. Since I've named this many I should name the others.  It was a small conference and we all pretty much met each other. Want to the see the attendees?   

Here's what I learned

I learned a ton which will mostly show up in different posts. There were the talks all of which were great. Of course, you actually have to be interested in card collecting, design, and history which in fact I am. Now, I am not only interested, I am slightly less ignorant.

I also learned from just chatting with people. From the Seeneys, I learned Congress and other American card history. From Phil, tons about investing in playing cards.  From Alex Clays, I got a historical perspective about cruise ships going back centuries and their playing cards. From Rosemary, I learned about her study on women's careers in magic entertainment. 

I studied and meditated upon the exhibit put together by Rory Rennick which was the most impactful part of the show to me. I met him, his wife Angela, the sister Sandi, and his Mom. Here is me with the King and Queen of Clubs (Rory and Angela).  Much more about their exhibit in a separate post.  I had heard him speak online before but seeing the exhibit in person and meeting him was special.  I think what he has assembled is world class research and curation and I hope it gets the museum attention and exposure that it deserves. 

Rory and Angela Rennick
Rory and Angela Rennick

A ton of new jokers and decks of cards

I bought decks and cards from the trading floor, the silent auction, and the live auction. Did some trading (including free for free with the lady from Iceland). But mostly I bought from Phil Bollhagen and his wife.   I was outbid by the CongressGuy for a deck with a Dundreary joker (he bought it for $475).

 In case you don't know about the 52 Plus Joker Club, it is perhaps the best deal in the world.  It costs $25 per year and includes a printed magazine a few times a year (Clear the Decks) plus a monthly online magazine (Card Culture) both of which are very professionally written. Pl;us a website, a forum, convention, and auctions etc etc. If you've read this far, JOIN IT!

Want to read more about joker collecting?
Other posts about old decks in my collection:

Joker Index - How to Organize Organize Ten Thousand Jokers

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Thanks for your input and for reading and thinking about jokers.