JOKER OF THE MONTH

 

*** 2009 ***

JANUARY 2009

There was a collectors bourse in Utrecht early this month. We always attend this one, even have a stall there for one day. There are always three other card dealers too, but they deal mostly in single jokers and backs. Officially the bourse is on Saturday and Sunday, but on Friday afternoon you have a few hours to get your stall ready for sales. Of course most people use this opportunity to check out the other stalls to see if there's anything for their collection and we are no exception. And that Friday brought us a few new decks, among them this month's  "Deck of the Month".

On Saturday we checked out the offer of the other card dealers, sat down at their table, discussed the playing cards and jokers that they had on offer and of course bought a few single jokers too. But that was early in the month and you never know what's going to come in during the rest of the month. We've waited until the last day to see if the postal services from France and the Netherlands would do their job in an efficient manner, but the expected deck and its jokers didn't make it in time.

So this month's joker comes from Utrecht. It belongs to a pair that we bought as single jokers, so we don't know the deck they came from and can't tell you anything more about them. It was probably a deck with different animals, as the back-design is made of two parrot-like birds. It was the pun on this joker that made us choose it as Joker of the Month. We hope you enjoy the joke(r)!

PS:
Sarah Sutton helped out with finding the origin of this joker. It comes from a deck that was drawn and published by Simon Drew from the UK. A complete deck can be ordered at http://www.simondrew.co.uk Our deck is on its way.

FEBRUARY 2009

The joker, that we had been waiting for last month, arrived early this month. But it became one of the many to choose from. There was the collectors meeting of the BEJC in Brussels and the flea market in Utrecht. Besides that we acquired a small collection of vintage and antique decks. So there were plenty of new decks for us and thus a good number of jokers too. The competition was tough: 4 jokers by Hodges and 6 jokers by Wolfgang Behrend could all have been on this spot.

But we've chosen this joker from the "Tune Up" deck. It's not the quality of the design (each of the above mentioned jokers is better drawn) or the pun, but rather the lack of both, that gives this joker an unsurpassed oddity. Combined with the fact that we had been looking for this deck for a while, this made the difference.

The Tune Up deck is the last in a series of 6 decks, which were probably printed by Brown&Bigelow and published in St. Louis in 1962 and '63. Each of the decks shows 52 different drawn, comical situations with humorous texts. Of course after 45 years not all the jokes are considered politically correct any more. Other titles are: Tee Up, Cheer Up, Fish Up, Bowl Up and Drink Up.

 

MARCH 2009

A slow month for jokers. Although there was a general collectors bourse this month where a few joker collectors / sellers were present, we didn't feel like "joker shopping" this time. So our new jokers had to come from the decks that we have acquired. But ......it was a slow month for new decks too!

An easy choice presented itself and this is the one that we've chosen.

The joker comes from an Austrian deck, printed by Piatnik, that was published as "News Prominenten Schnapps" and shows caricatures of prominent people. Usually a "schnapps" deck consists of 24 cards and only in a few decks a joker is added. Fortunately this deck contained one and it shows a self-portrait of the artist, who is known as Deix, surrounded by cute cats and weird dogs.

 

APRIL 2009

This month a lot of new decks were added to our collection. Only two decks were pre-1900 and didn't have a joker, but all the others did. And during the Jaarbeurs we had sat down at the table of a joker seller and had bought some 30 single jokers too. So there was good number to choose from. Some may call this a luxury choice, we call it long discussions and endless shifting before reaching a final decision. But in the end we choose one from a deck that we had purchased from a German seller during the last (international) meeting of the Dutch playing cards collectors.

This joker comes from a pear-shaped deck that was lithographically printed by F.X. Schmid from Munich and published as "Olympia Spiel" in 1936. The designs are by Rudolf Nussgruber. There are 2 jokers with the deck. One is crying, the other smiling. Of course we chose the latter.

But there's something strange in the design: the Jolly Joker text is printed upside down. Same thing on the other joker. The courts have indices, but these are printed in the correct position in the ovals next to the heads, where the stars on this joker are. However, on the courts there's an extra indicator printed under the head and also..... upside down. Yet on the numbered cards there are no upside down numbers. Puzzling......and one can only speculate on a reason for all this. Shuffling the cards with the plump side down is easier than the other way around, but holding the cards in a fan is much easier with the plump side up. And in this position it's easier to see the value of the cards too, especially the numbers. So it's still a puzzle! Maybe the designer's sense of a jolly joke?

MAY 2009

There were some new decks with nice or rare jokers, but this month our winner came from a Dutch joker collector who offered it on Ebay.

A very clever designed joker this month. It comes from a deck that was published by Bicycle as the Lion Split Spades deck. It was designed by magician David Blaine in cooperation with artist Mark Stutzman. Of course the actual designs were done by the latter. We didn't buy the whole deck, because the pattern isn't non-standard. There are just the special designed "split" ace of spades and this joker that are interesting in the deck. 

The outlines of the design show the head of David Blaine in a joker hat and collar. The band of the hat shows a ring of split aces and the bells are made of tiny heads. David's head is composed by a scene in which a man, probably a magician, beats the devil at cards. In the background there's an antique wall with porches and the bushes on the sides suggest the curly hair that David Blaine has. A very clever design, that deserves to be put in the spotlight here.

Should you want to see this month's rare jokers, see our Deck of the Month page.

JUNE 2009

This month we had a lot of jokers to choose from. Because our own Ebay auctions had done very well in the last two months, we could afford to do some shopping on Ebay too. Together with the results of the annual collectors meeting in the Playing cards Museum in Turnhout it added up to some 25 new decks for our collection this month. There were rare ones, cute ones and simple ones. This month's joker can be considered a rare one.

The joker was made by Brown&Bigelow from the US in 1964. The joker was in mint condition, as we bought a still sealed deck on Ebay and opened it here for the first time. We had recognized the back design of the card that was pasted on the back of the box and knew it had to contain a non-standard deck. And we were right: after the deck had arrived we opened it and found an international pattern with inserted photo's as heads on each of the courts. The photo's are of Barry Goldwater and the deck was published for the campaign that this republican Senator of Arizona held, when he ran for President of the US against John F. Kennedy. Barry Goldwater was known as "Mr. Conservative" and so it's not a surprise that a photo of the Democratic party's symbol, the donkey, was used on the joker in this deck.

Should you want to see the rare "Flip the Frog" joker, see our Deck of the Month page.

JULY 2009

During the summer months there are open air markets throughout the country. Not only in the weekends, but often on week days too. Of course we visited some of these markets in our region too. Car booth sales don't only attract Dutch visitors, but in the summer you can hear German, French and English spoken there too. Usually these markets don't bring many surprising finds, but sometimes you're lucky and something unexpected pops up.

The cute variation of the well known Carta Mundi joker comes from an advertising deck for "Anisette", a French liqueur. The deck had a standard Belgian-Genovese pattern, but in the colors that Anisette uses on their products: blue, a pale red and gold. The same colors were used for the joker, which holds a bottle of Anisette in his right hand.

We received some new jokers from an old collector/friend, but in total there were not many new jokers to choose from this month. So deciding which joker to put here was easy again!

AUGUST 2009

We're very fortunate to have such a lovely summer. So this month we visited some open air markets again. On these markets you sometimes see a stack of single jokers offered. Nine out of ten times these are the most common jokers that there are, but every once in a while there will be an interesting joker in the stack. And this is the one that popped us this month in Schoorl, a small town on the coast.

There's no information to add. It has a black back with blue lines running down and a white border. So it's probably not from an advertising deck, but from a regular edition, and the name of maker and edition will remain unknown until we come across a complete deck or....... until a visitor of this site will recognize it and provide us with additional info.

There were only a few jokers to choose from, so it was an easy choice....... again!

PS:
Emile Kiderlen from the Netherlands supplied us with the following info: the joker comes from a non-standard deck, which was made by Fournier from Vitoria, Spain, for Loewe in 1959.

SEPTEMBER 2009

This month was a very slow month for new jokers and decks. Only a few of both could be added to the collection. Of course this had a reason: we didn't look at what Ebay had to offer for weeks, but just visited local open air markets again. The first Saturday of the month was spend at the "Moules/Frites" festival in Lille, but somehow the French decks that we found there only had standard jokers in them. And, although at least good for something each time, the monthly flea market in Utrecht didn't bring any new finds either. 

But once again, we found a nice joker in a stack of common ones. This time at an open air market in Stompetoren, a small town in our province, where at regular intervals car booth sales are held in the field. Always quite windy there, which Miriam doesn't like, but when the sun is out she can't resist going along. And fortunate too, because she was the one who found this month's joker.

The joker has an intriguing design. At first glance it looks quite classic, but in the details it becomes obvious that it's a contemporary piece of art by Judy Woodborne, a South African artist (1966). The joker comes from an art deck.

OCTOBER 2009

Fall has definitely begun here in the Netherlands, so no more open air markets. Still there was enough to do this month. Of course it all started with the joint convention of the 52+Joker and the IPCS in Toronto. So Joop was away from the 3rd - 15th, but back in time for the monthly flea market in Utrecht and the October meeting of the Dutch playing card collectors. All this has lead to a good number of new decks for our collection and a large choice in jokers. 

The joint convention was without doubt the most exiting event. It's always nice to see the collectors from all over the world again. There were trading sessions, lectures and auctions in the convention hotel, but a special exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum and a trip to Niagara falls were arranged too.
This month's joker comes from a deck that Joop brought home from Toronto. It's a souvenir deck that was printed and published by the Niagara Playing Card Company from Buffalo, N.Y., in 1901. Each card has a different oval picture, most of them show the American falls and the (Canadian) Horseshoe falls, but there are also pictures from nearby bridges, railroads and towns. The joker shows a local Indian, descending the falls in a canoe. Already in the 19th century attempts have been made to descend from these falls and these daredevils were not always successful. So it's such an appropriate scene for a joker, that we decided that it would be the Joker of the Month.

NOVEMBER 2009

This month there were only two events that were worth going to: the monthly flea market and the Collectors Fair at the Jaarbeurs, both in Utrecht. Miriam has been having such problems with her respiratory system, that she was unable to attend them, Joop brought home some very good decks from both events. Too bad that these were too old to have jokers.

But he also bought this single joker from a dealer at the Jaarbeurs. He thought it was an old Belgian joker, that he had seen in a book about Belgian playing cards, but when he got home and looked up the joker, his memory was proven wrong. Although the general idea of the design is the same, it wasn't the old La Turnhoutoise joker that he thought it was.

So there's nothing to tell about this joker, except that it will probably be an older Belgian one too, but we can't stick a manufacturer to it at this moment. Maybe a visitor can help us out, but we'll go through some other reference books here too and hopefully find an answer to share here. Still, it was the best joker that we have found this month.

DECEMBER 2009

A few local flea markets and the big one in Utrecht were visited and the latter brought us a wonderful deck.....but there were no jokers. Friends brought us a great deck for our SN collection, but again......no joker was ever issued with that deck. But we've been sniffing around on Ebay again and that brought us some nice decks with jokers. So there was already a choice to make.

However, on the 20th we received an email from Peter Wood, offering 2 decks from his limited edition of 50 hand-colored decks at a special Christmas-offer price and...... we got one of them! That suddenly made the choice very easy. Because of the very limited edition, of which the designs were done in 2008 and most of the coloring in 2009, this is a joker that you won't see very often. So we like to share it with you here as Joker of the Month and it's a good one to end the year with too.

 

 

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