In 1832 Lewis I. Cohen began manufacturing playing cards in New York. He had invented a printing machine for four colours and had passed on the principle of this machine to his 3 nephews, who started their own playing card manufacturing companies: Samuel Hart, John J. Levy and Lawrence&Cohen. The three companies joined forces in 1871 and founded the New York Consolidated Card Co. (NYCC). In 1894 the NYCC was incorporated in the United States Playing Card Company (USPCC) and until 1933 the NYCC operated as a separate company under the umbrella of the USPCC. Around 1895 the Bee #62 brand was introduced by the NYCC. And of course the brand needed a suitable joker, so......with a bee!
The first and oldest joker (around 1895) was done in b/w and in the early 1900's a full colour one completed the decks.
Within the USPCC versions different colouring, size and printed texts are possible. Above are a few examples.
The USPCC opened a plant in Canada in 1914 in Toronto, which was moved to Windsor in 1918 and much later to Markham. Publications went under the name of the International Playing Card Co. The jokers are bilingual ("marque déposée") and maybe for that reason the oldest one only says "Joker". Adding an article would have marked the joker as either French or English.
We've often said it here before, when a brand has become big imitations or off-springs will often be found too. Here below are a few, all made in China, even the beetle one.
last update: 1/2/2010