JOKER OF THE MONTH

 

*** 2012 ***

JANUARY 2012

Winter hasn't shown itself here until the last two days. We have a prolonged fall, with plenty of storm and rain, but every once in a while there were some sunny days too. Temperatures haven't really been below zero, except for an occasional night and these last two days. So the roads were clear and we were ready to go, but....... there weren't any interesting markets until the last two weekends. We visited a bric-a-brac market in Amsterdam and Joop had to wait until the last weekend for the monthly flea market in Utrecht. In Amsterdam Miriam bought a nice Florentin leather box, of course with a playing card motif. It held two Piatnik decks, but those were only good to play with. Utrecht had to bring a special find to surpass the joker that we received on January 19 and it didn't.

We bought several non-standard decks on eBay for our collection and some of them had great jokers, so there was an interesting short list with a French joker, illustrated by James Hodges, an antique one from the US and a cute modern Belgian one. But this time we also bought a deck, just because of the joker. It was advertised as an unusual deck, but the pictures showed court cards from the Belgian-Genovese pattern. For the American seller not your everyday stuff, but here in the Netherlands quite usual.
For us the only unusual card shown was the joker. Never seen it before and it was love at first sight. The maker remains unknown, but is probably Belgian or maybe even French. Date? Probably 1950's. The deck nor the box gave a name or a hint in any direction. Still, we're happy to share this gnome-like figure with you here.

FEBRUARY 2012

The winter lasted only 10 days, so now it's back to the usual rain and storm again. But....trains are running on schedule and the roads are accessible again too. Due to a misunderstanding here, we had to miss the collectors meeting in Brussels. The flea market in Utrecht was in the last weekend again, but we were almost certain that we wouldn't find a joker there that would surpass our chosen one. And we were right about that.
We won a good number of decks on eBay. Not all of them were young enough to hold a joker and those who were didn't have a joker that could compete with this month's chosen one.
The joker came with our very first celluloid deck. Over the last few years we had seen such a deck only a few times on eBay, but now we were able to win one there at an affordable price. 

These celluloid cards date from 1928 and they were advertised as "will last indefinitely". But celluloid cards were never a great success, mainly because in playing the colour print wore off relatively fast. But they were quite inflammable too.

Thanks to our friend Larry from "Wrigley Ville" we can show you a similar joker, which mentions the "Piroxloid Products Corp." above the figure and "New York USA" at the bottom. Both were obviously made by the same manufacturer, only the name of the company was changed. Both are dated as 1928.


(image is enlarged, actual size is 43x62 mm.)

MARCH 2012

There were two events this month. Mid March there was the General Collectors Fair and a week later the usual monthly flea market. Both were held in the Veemarkthallen in Utrecht and both for the last time there. The former cattle market will be torn down and houses will be build there. From April on these events will have to be held elsewhere, but it's becoming clear that the monthly flea market won't return anywhere near Utrecht. After going there for more than 10 years Joop will miss the ambiance and the atmosphere of the Veemarkthallen.

But there's always eBay and the Dutch auction site. The latter didn't bring anything special, but eBay was again a great source. As our sales there went very well, there was some money to spend too and we got a few nice antique decks and a few nice artist decks too. The latest Elaine Lewis transformation deck commemorates the 100th anniversary of the launching of the Titanic. The deck was supposed to be send out in April, but we were lucky to receive the deck on the 22nd of this month. So there were some interesting jokers to chose from anyway.

But -as a tribute- this month's joker comes from one of the last decks that were found in the Veemarkthallen. It came with a Dondorf No 243 Poker Patience deck and it shows the well-known figure which can be found in other Dondorf decks too. BUT...... have you ever seen one with a text below the figure? 

APRIL 2012

The largest collectors fair in the Netherlands was held from Friday 13 - Sunday 15. We were both there on Friday and Saturday. Miriam found a rare football quartet deck by SN that we didn't have yet, so our weekend was already successful within a few hours. Of course we did find some other nice decks there, but nothing could top Miriam's find.

The next weekend was the Dutch Collectors Meeting, it was the 50th meeting in 25 years. But this anniversary wasn't as happy as it should have been. A good number of the familiar collectors didn't show up and there were hardly any visitors from outside. Also the number of collectors with decks to offer is slowly diminishing with every meeting. So most of the sellers were complaining about their (lack of) sales, except for one. He had stopped collecting and was selling his decks at bargain prices. We had a table next to him, so we bought a good number of decks from him to resell, just like some other collectors.

But this joker wasn't in any of these decks. It came from eBay, with an interesting designed deck of souvenir cards from Chicago. The deck was made by John J. O'Callaghan in 1930. Besides the Joker there's a "C" in the opposite corners. At first we thought it could mean "clown", but when we saw that there was a small comma above the C, we figured that the rectangle should be seen as an O, thus making O'C. So it's probably a sort of logo for O'Callaghan. Still....a not often seen joker!

MAY 2012

The third week of May was a warm and sunny one, so we visited a few outdoor flea markets.

We found this joker at the largest of them, with some 500 stalls. It came from a "Pep Boys" deck from the US, that we had never seen before and we immediately wondered how that could have wound up in the Netherlands.  Joop seems to have a soft spot for the Manny, Moe and Jack characters, as we already have chosen a Pep Boys joker before, exactly 8 years ago (see May 2004). That one was from 1928, but this one look much younger. Judging by the designs of the non-standard pips, the deck probably dates from around 1960.

To be frank, it wasn't our best find in jokers this month. However, we don't like to put up the same image twice on this site, so for a real treat we invite you to go and see our Deck of the Month. It's from a rarely seen German deck from the 1930's and a great looking joker!

JUNE 2012

The collectors meeting at the National Playing Card Museum in Turnhout, Belgium, brought us some nice decks for our collection and so did the meeting in Velddriel. Of course there was eBay for some nice finds too. This month there were not that many interesting or nearby flea markets. We only visited one! This month we've decided that the meeting in Turnhout brought the winner.

The joker came with a French deck, that had a non-standard version of the (standard) French Paris pattern. The deck was made by Banco from Paris, probably in the 1950's. Banco has probably not existed for a long time and not many decks are known by this maker/publisher. So this joker isn't often seen either.

It's an elegant figure in tights, done in bright, solid colours. It's definitely a human figure, but his feet look like, no they are...... cat paws! As we had added two young kittens to our household in May, the paws seemed a good reason to choose this one as Joker of the Month. ENJOY!

JULY 2012

During the summer there are no collectors meetings, just flea markets. If the weather is good we prefer the outside ones. This month the largest one was held in the IJ-hallen in Amsterdam during the first weekend, but we soon found out that that is not s flea market for playing card collectors. We came back empty handed after having to wade through lanes of second hand clothes. So we'll skip the next one there, however big it may be.
There were a few smaller flea markets that we visited, but although they didn't bring any interesting finds, the atmosphere and offer was a lot nicer than outside the IJ-hallen.

We were in Paris from the 26th to the 29th and besides some shops we visited the flea market of the Porte de Vanves and a part of the one on the Porte de Clignancourt. The Vanves market always has very varied offer and a lovely ambiance when the sun is out. The Porte de Clignancourt is much more hectic and crowded, but there's an extensive offer of antiques and collectibles. 

We got some nice decks through eBay too and received a beautiful designed Russian deck through a Russian collector. So there was a good number of jokers to choose from again, but it was a quick and unanimous decision that this Russian joker should be Joker of the Month. It's a rather exclusive one, as the complete deck can only be bought at the Restaurant Kortschma in Moscow and isn't for sale anywhere else. The artwork is by the Russian artist Erko and the deck was only recently published.

 

AUGUST 2012

We had a fair share of warm and sunny days this month. Some were a little too hot for our taste, others a little too wet. But we Dutch just love to complain about the weather. As a result only 2 outside flea markets were visited and neither brought anything special. We did buy a lot of nice decks on Ebay, from antique to modern, so there were a good number of jokers to choose from again. If we wouldn't have chosen the "Hustling Joe" as Deck of the Month, that joker would probably have been shown here. But it might just as well have been the joker from an unknown Austrian deck from the 1960's or a nice old German one from the 1920's. But Miriam put the pressure on for this one. 

The joker comes from the "Coolidge Official Poker Sized Playing Cards". C.M. Coolidge was the artist who has left us a number of paintings with dogs playing poker. We're sure that everyone has at some point seen one of them. The courts all show a different detail of his paintings, but the jokers show the same scene. We like the designs of those poker playing dogs paintings and there are plenty of reproductions around, even on tapestry, but we've never had the inclination to buy one of those. But now that there's a deck of cards with them, we -but especially Miriam- couldn't resist buying the deck. It was printed in China, but published in Canada by Aquarius in 2008.

SEPTEMBER 2012

This month we had our well-deserved vacation. It started on the 1st with strolling along the stalls and tables with displayed stuff in Lille during the Moules-Frites festival. It was a sunny day, so we enjoyed the walk, the found decks and of course the mussels with french fries. Then we spent a week at the beach at Berck-s-mer, but the weather wasn't very helpful, so we toured in the vicinity each afternoon, stopping at each antique shop along the way. Blois, along the Loire river, was our next destination and from there we took daytrips to Orléans and Tours and also visited the Chateau de Chambord. Of course we picked up some decks along the way then too.

The vacation ended in Paris, with one night with a Parisian girlfriend, before attending the IPCS convention in Issy-les-Moulineaux, which is an independent town, but can be seen as one of the suburbs of Paris. As usual we bought more decks than we sold during the trading sessions there. And a visit to a few flea markets brought some new decks as well. Most of the decks had jokers, so we had a lot to choose from. We decided to show you a sort of scoop here and chose this joker from the latest Elaine Lewis deck, World of Sports. It was released only recently and was inspired by the 2012 Olympic games in London. The edition consists of 50 decks only, so the joker won't be seen that often.

 


OCTOBER 2012

We attended the playing card collectors trading meeting in Nieuwerbrug on the 21st, but this time just as visitors. We don't know if other clubs are suffering from the same trend, but here there seem to be less and less dealers and visitors each time. Maybe it's because of the steadily growing number of collectors, that have found their way to the internet. We get more and more orders from Dutchmen at our site or even on Ebay. Of course that's nice, but we think it's even nicer to meet and trade in person. Sometimes useful information may be given by the seller. As said, we didn't have a table there, so we shouldn't complain, as we're part of the problem. But at the last meeting we didn't even sell one deck that Sunday morning, while that Sunday evening we sold 70% of our offered decks on Ebay. And.... that can be done without having to haul big boxes full of decks at 7 AM to the car, unpacking and repacking them at the meeting, and hauling them to the attic again at 2 PM.

But besides talking with all the familiar collectors, Miriam bought a lot of single jokers at the meeting, Joop a good number of decks. Packages with new decks also kept arriving this month, so there was a real good number of jokers to choose from. There were cute ones and old ones, but we decided for a more obscure one this time. The joker comes from a French non-standard advertising deck for Pathe Marconi, probably published in the 1980's. This one has a repeated image in the mirror. The second one doesn't have that, but mentions there that the deck was specially made for M. Lecoutre from Dieppe. We had never seen this deck before, nor the joker, so maybe you haven't either. Anyway, we're glad to share it with you here. 

NOVEMBER 2012

There were two events this month. First there was the general collectors bourse, organized by Frits Spee. It was held on a new location, the Home Boxx Exhibition Center in Nieuwegein, for the first time, so we had decided to check out this location before we would enlist us as seller for the next bourse. The building has two floors and if the stall is on the second floor, there's quite a distance to be covered to get the stuff to the stall. So we haven't decided yet. But we found some nice decks to trade and two for our own collection.
The second event was the largest collectors fair at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht. Always a good score there and this time we brought home some very nice antique decks for our collection and a good number of interesting ones to trade. Unfortunately walking around all day there on Friday took its toll on Miriam and she couldn't come along the next day. She probably ran into a bad bacillus there and catching a cold means immediate shortness of breath for her. So at this moment she's still recovering and Joop is on double shifts again at home. That's more household chores for him, but as our social life had to be put on hold and our agenda cleared of all appointments, he could spend some of the evenings at the pc, keeping an eye on Ebay and the Dutch auction site. Result: a stream of packages in our mailbox and still on their way.

Joop didn't want to engage in a heavy discussion, so it's Miriams choice this month. This weird, card hating dog was drawn by Clare Mackie and comes with a deck that she has designed for the Folio Society in 2010.

DECEMBER 2012

Miriam went from a bad bacillus in her lungs to a bad one in her intestines, so our social life had to be put on hold in December too. It also prevented her from going to the only playing cards trading meeting this month, in Velddriel. But Joop came back with a bag full of decks. These were mostly modern ones, so there was a good number of new jokers added to the collection.
But this month the joker came from Ebay. Joop usually keeps an eye on the offer there, but he rarely buys single jokers. However, this month he bought 3 jokers from a Belgian collector.They arrived on the 28th, so just in time to participate in this month's contest. And, just like our Deck of the Month this time, this one surpassed all the ones, that were already on our shortlist.

The connoisseurs will have recognized the style of design as that of Elaine Lewis, an artist from the UK, who has produced some 50 decks in very limited numbers. She not only designs the cards, but she also paints them by hand. This one is from the Lipsmackers deck, probably made in 1997, but definitely in a limited number of 40 decks only.
But our choice wasn't based on the obvious rareness, nor on that cute little puppy, although he definitely helped. For a while Elaine Lewis gave her jokers the number 13 and we couldn't find a better way than to use this year's last Joker of the Month to announce the next and wish you ........ HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

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