Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Mad About Playing Cards, Part 1

I am an absolute fanatic when it comes to classical board games and card games. It's been a long time since I've done any playing card blogging, so I thought I'd put up some more pictures from my card collection. Today we're going for some of my more peculiar playing cards...

cadet miniature playing cards
Fig. 1  I picked up these old miniature cards something like 30 years ago, can't remember where. A deck of regular (poker) size Bicycle cards is shown for comparison. "Cadets Playing Cards, Revised box adopted 1907." The joker looks like a soldier of the Civil War era. Some of the cards have a slot punched into them near one corner: look at the ♣10. I'm not sure if this was original, or done to them later. The Cadet cards measure 2½" by 1¾". The back, as with some older card decks, is a simple single-color diagonal plaid.

Many years ago I wrote the United States Playing Card Company in Cincinnati, asking for information about these miniature Cadet cards. They weren't able to pin down a precise date, apart from confirming that they were manufactured in the early part of the 20th century.

arpak four color playing cards black background
Fig. 2  Here's an unusual deck, cards with a black background, and the suits in four colors: green clubs, yellow spades, red hearts, white diamonds. I have no idea when these cards were produced, though the style and the linen finish make me think they're older rather than newer. The ♠A reads "ArPaK — Mt. Pleasant — Liverpool."

This is the only deck of this design I've ever seen, unlike the white-background ForColar cards from the late 1940s (green clubs, black spades, red hearts, yellow diamonds) which turn up not infrequently in second-hand shops.

animal playing card backs
Fig. 3  Most of my collection consists of entire card decks, but I do have a number of single cards people have given me over the years. Here are some playing card backs, dogs, cats, and a horse, which a great-aunt of mine passed down to me.

playing card jokers
Fig. 4  Here's a small selection of jokers, some of them loose cards, some of them from complete decks in my collection. Upper left is from Aviator playing cards, upper right is from Bicycle cards (both US Playing Card Co.); lower right is a Tally-Ho joker, lower left is an older Whitman joker. Four out of the six jokers in between are from the ARRCO Playing Card Company in Chicago, and the Redislip joker comes from the old Brown & Bigelow Company up in the Twin Cities, or one of its successors.

I will never forget the time I stumbled across a garage sale in a small town down in Illinois. They had quite an assortment of card decks there— some of them older, too. And a sign posted, indicating that none of the decks had any jokers. I try to fathom the psychology of a person who would routinely throw away the jokers from his card decks but... Grrrrrrrrrr...

hungarian playing cards
Fig. 5  Here's an oddity, a 32-card deck with German suit signs— acorns, leaves, hearts, bells— but distinctively Hungarian in its captions and design. "Hungarian Playing Cards, Made in U.S.A., Western Playing Card Co., Racine, Wis, Poughkeepsie, N.Y." The card backs are a simple diagonal plaid.

These cards are not recent, but I'd guess they're not really that old— 1950s or early 1960s, at a guess? And they show signs of heavy use. At one time there must have been some kind of a demand for cards like these here in the US.

Card blogging will continue tomorrow...

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3 Comments:

Blogger Ferenc said...

Hungarian Playing cards: The card appeared after the defeated revolution of Hungary 1848-49.
The characters of Hungarian Playing cards are from the saga of William Tell the successful freedom fighter of Switzerland against Austria.
You have probably recognized Tell and the governor regent whoes death by an arrow is on red VII. Homework: Look for the other persons & events from Schiller's drama.

Ferenc Nagy

Monday, November 22, 2010 1:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Hi.
The Arpak 'No-Revoke' deck are old and hard to find as they were produced between 1927 and 1935 when the company existed,and were made at 24,Mount Pleasant,Liverpool.
I do believe they were produced in only 4 designs.I have the blue backed two head rev one.

Saturday, September 15, 2012 1:37:00 AM  
Anonymous willy said...

Ran across your site looking for info on another deck of cards and saw your post about the Cadet cards. I noticed the ace seems to have some numbers at the bottom, can't tell for sure. Most uspc cards beginning in 1904 had a letter followed by four numbers at the bottom of the ace of spades,the numbers are print run codes but the letter is a date code. These cards were made sometime between 1910 and 1925 1910 has the letter N, 1911 P, 1912 R,1913 S, 1914 T,1915 U, 1916 W, 1917 X, 1918 Y, 1919 Z, 1920 A, 1921 B, 1922C, 1923 E, 1924 F, 1925 G,
This info is from the Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, a fantastic resource about old cards. It has a picture of the cadet aces and the joker. Your ace was first used in 1910. Cadets were made beginning 1885 and ended about 1925.

Monday, September 29, 2014 3:51:00 AM  

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