Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Vintage Decks that I'd trade away

 Interested in old decks?  Step up and see how it feels to own a part of history. But I'm not really selling, I'm really looking to trade. 

What do I want? Old jokers or old decks with Jokers, especially American ones from the end of the 1800s and early 1900s. I'm particularly interested in wide Congress decks with matching (or named) jokers.  Contact me at john at edelson dot info.

Here's the decks that I have to trade.  

Samuel Hart NY 41  1875.  This first one is a Hart deck bought from Phil Bollhagen in 2020. A Samuel Hart NY 41 in Hochman c1875.  c. 1855.  Hochman P55. Good condition 51/52.  (missing the 6 of spades)  Single-ended courts used in Faro decks.  No joker issued as faro decks (gamblers) did not use a joker. It’s in the original playing card case.  Hochman's values--  $400-$250-$175.  it's quite rare. I bought it for  $250 from Phil Bolhagen in 2020.

US30 Picket3515.  It’s also a USPC Picket deck with an original case. He looks to me like US30 Picket3515 on P101 of Hochman.

Marguerite Decks. These five gold edged decks come in beautiful leather cases. I have Orchid, Iris, Thistle, Lilies of the Valley, and Forest Stream. They are all complete decks in lovely condition except Forest Stream which lacks a joker.  Three are published by A Dougherty, two by Abrham J Straus. 
Marguerite decks of cards

A Dougherty
Motor Playing Cards, with case

Kangaroo Playing Cards

Vintage Advertising Decks - I bought these decks as part of a big lot and would happily consider a trade for them for some number of similar aged / themed decks with jokers. These are all complete advertising decks but without jokers.
Update: Dahl House (R1:C5), Cork and Seal (R3,C2), and Pepsi (R4, C3) are already traded away. 

White Star Coffee. 

While I'm generally trying to accumulate Congress wide decks, I particularly want to get ones with matching jokers. I would trade these wide Congress decks away in exchange for ones with matching (not Capitol) jokers. I don't know the right name for the "Girl on Chair"  but it's marked copyright 1905.

Congress 606 Wide deck with Capitol Jokers
November, LaFrance, and Playmates (Not "Girl on Chair". Kevan, thanks!)

More Congress 606 Decks (I think Bernice is already traded away) that I could trade away. I think these are Whist size (ie narrow).  

Top Row: Going to Cover, A Hot Scent, Badoura
Bottom row: Berenice, Muse, Flora, (Spinning Wheel maybe shouldn't be in with these narrows...)

Duplicate Bridge - I don't know much about this but it's gorgeous and in fantastic condition.  
Congress Duplicate Bridge Four Pack Set

Other articles about old decks of cards that I own:

 Here are articles about my older American jokers by publisher (they all need updating):

NYCC jokers
USPC Jokers including Bicycle, Congress  

National Card Company and Perfection too 
Kalamazoo and Russell 
Arrow and ARRCO

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

African Americans as Portrayed on Playing Cards

 Rory Renick is a collector and historian. He built an amazing exhibit which I write about here. This article shows his exhibit at the 52PlusJoker Conference of his collection of playing cards which documents the portrayal of  some of the history of African Americans and of the African Diaspora. At the end of the article, there’s more info about Rory and the conference.

It astonished me. Two months later, I'm still thinking about it. It is powerful, meaningful, and haunting.  I would like to see his collection get a much larger viewing by becoming a travelling exhibit across major museums. 

Its name: Art, Allegory & Advertisement -In Black-Imaged Playing Cards

But to start at the beginning, Rory is a magician, a writer, a storyteller, and in this case, a collector of cards.  

Being a joker collector myself, I'll start with a part of  his collection of jokers.  Rory has curated this display of joker playing cards from 1882 to 1935.

What is this period, 1882 to 1935 ?  Well...

"...It wasn't until the end of the Reconstruction that a nostalgic longing to see black people in disparaging stereotypes emerged..."

Moving from exhibits of jokers to displays of playing cards in general, Rory labels this period of portrayal as the "Cotton, Minstrelsy, & The Art Deco Era".

In the  World War II and immediate post war era, there didn't seem to be many portrayals of African Americans.  Personally, I would guess that a united front was considered important for America to deal successfully with the external threats and enemies.

Starting in the 60s, a renaissance and an exploration and statement of identity for Black Americans appears on cards.  

There is a focus on achievements in entertainment, research, politics, sports, and music by African Americans and decks of cards along these themes were published.  The cards highlight both historical and contemporary achievements.

Through the years, the imagery shows an expansion of the vision shown on American playing cards to include a sense of the African Diaspora.

It is in this tradition that Rory and Angela (his wife) dressed as the King and Queen of Clubs. Also, they looked fantastic as royalty.  I was honored to be pictured with them.

There are also, in the modern cards and imagery, a frequent usage of cards for advertising and commerce.

Overall, despite the heavy topics raised by the cards about history - much of it painful and toxic - the exhibit has a light feeling to it. It's neither preachy nor simplistic. 

The exhibit lays out the portrayals over the last 150 years, organizes them into periods and topics, and allows the viewer the freedom to appreciate, cringe, and meditate upon this long history as portrayed in one of the most popular of art forms: the playing card.

This exhibit in October 2023 was the first public exhibit of Rory Rennick's collection. It was shown at the 52PlusJoker Annual Conference in Cleveland.

Lee Asher, the president of 52PlusJoker, has provided Rory with several media to share his collection with the organization's members including Clear the Decks, a printed magazine; Card Culture Magazine, an online magazine; and live and Zoom presentations. In Lee's introduction of Rory, he says that it is a collection of the highest significance.

I think Rory Rennick is a determined original who has developed and pursued his visions which deals with clarifying and illuminating some important aspects of American history and society..  

For my part, I think the day will come when I will brag about having known Rory before his exhibit hit the bigtime and he became a national celebrity. His materials are compelling and they merit attention from national-level museums and media.  My photography which is obviously amateurish, does not do justice the visual impact of the actual displays. This article does I think capture the striking history of the portrayal of  Black Americans in popular culture through playing cards. 

More information:

The 52PlusJoker Club facilitates the collection and trading of antique, vintage and modern collectible playing cards & other related ephemera. It only costs $25 a year.

Rory Rennick is a working magician, entertainer, historian, educator, and writer. He wrote Henry Box Brown.

To reach me, just write a comment. I check them weekly. 
- revised 12-5-2023