JOKER OF THE MONTH

 

*** 2014 ***

JANUARY 2014

We had a slow start of the new year. Winter hasn't really started yet and we haven't seen any snow this month. So the roads were okay, but there were no collectors meetings here in Holland and we only visited one local flea market. 

Sales on Ebay haven't been doing extremely well since September, so that means that funds to buy decks have been a bit limited since then too. Still we managed to find a few affordable, but interesting additions for our collection during the last quarter of 2013. 
January however didn't bring that many decks. We had hoped to receive a few more, but they must have been delayed in the mail. They wouldn't have contributed to this page anyway, because they are antique decks that never had a joker.

We didn't buy any single jokers this month. Miriam is not very active in that field anymore. But we did receive a few modern decks, so there was a number of jokers to choose from. Our Deck of the Month has a nice one and the one from the narrow Pep Boys deck is worth mentioning too, but both are already to be found elsewhere on our site and we don't want to show things twice. So a Japanese joker for a chance. It's one of the two that came with the Uninorm deck that was produced and published by Nintendo in 1971.

FEBRUARY 2014

Somehow it turned out to be a good month for new decks and we could add 16 to our collection. There were only a few that were too old to have a joker, so there were plenty of jokers to choose from. Most of them came from modern decks, but we had a few vintage ones as well. 

There were no collectors meetings yet and only a few flea markets, so once again almost all the decks came from Ebay or Marktplaats, the Dutch auction site. Sales are slowly picking up a bit too, so we had some money to spend too. It resulted in a diverse gathering of antique, vintage and modern decks in different printing techniques and styles. Worth mentioning is the Bicycle Venexiana deck, with two jokers, of which one was in competition until the end. But the scale was tipped in favor of an other one.

This joker comes from a Swedish deck, with a luxury edition of a Swedish standard pattern. It was printed by the Litografiska Aktiebolaget from Norrköping and published in 1951. Joop is from that same year, so for him a good excuse to buy it on Ebay. Although the name of the printing firm had made us hope that the deck would be printed in lithography, the disappointment of offset was immediately compensated by this cute jolly joker. 

MARCH 2014

It was a beautiful month. Not only did the weather break a record in hours of sunshine, but we dug up some real treasure decks too. There were no outside markets yet and a visit to a nearby local flea market in a sports hall was so disappointing again, that we consider skipping those in future. At least 50% of all the goods on offer there consisted of clothing. The visit did cost $ 3.50, lasted 15 minutes and brought 0 finds.

So the decks had to come from the well known places on the internet again. Although our best finds were antique decks which were never published with a joker, we did acquire a good number of more modern decks too, so there were plenty of jokers to choose from this month.

Always a tough choice then, but this time we went for this vintage American joker. It accompanies 4 special decks by the S.F. Hanzel Card Company from Chicago. They are so-called no-revoke decks, in which each suit has its own color, as shown on the cards on the joker. The four decks are called Blue Spade, Green Club, Golden Diamond and Sweetheart and this series was published in 1925. We found a Golden Diamond deck on Ebay. It was the winking man-of-the-moon face that tipped the scale. The Latin "teneo omnes" means "I take all" and refers to the powerful position that the joker has in some games.

APRIL 2014

Miriam had been taken to hospital on March 24th because of an acute shortness of breath. It was probably caused by a simple cold, but the result was serious enough to keep her in hospital until April 4. So during that time Joop had to focus on other things besides cards and jokers. He had already done some work on the two usual monthly additions, so those could be placed on time. 

For this month a few important events were scheduled. First the largest collectors bourse in the Jaarbeurs, Utrecht, took place during the weekend of the 12th and then there was the meeting of the Dutch playing card collectors in Nieuwerbrug on the 27th. Both events brought us new decks, some even with jokers, but this time we chose a joker that we had picked up on Ebay.

The joker was made by the Western Playing Card Company from Chicago and it was used as a sort of 1st day cover for philatelists. It's a first flight mailing on July 1st 1930 of the newly established airmail route: San Diego via Seattle. The card has a 5 cent stamp, showing a beacon in the Rocky Mountains, and also has a specially designed first flight stamp, only used for this special occasion. We've seen other cards with a similar use, different airmail routes though. But it's the first time that we see a piece of United States air and postal history on a joker. A good enough reason to share this unique piece with you here.

MAY 2014

It was a bit of a slow month with less new additions than usual and none of them really sticking out. Maybe that was because there were no collectors meetings in Holland this month, maybe it was because we didn't visit any flea markets and maybe because we were outbid a lot of times on Ebay. But there was not much time to spend on our card hobby,  because there was a lot of work to be done in the garden. Plants had to be bought and planted. That used to be Miriam's job, but she hasn't got the energy to anymore to complete that by herself, so Joop had to lend a hand frequently. But the garden work was finished before the end of the month and now we can enjoy a good rest in the sun, looking at all the flowers with our feet up.

Although there were not that many new decks, they were mostly modern ones, so there was still a good number of jokers to choose from. This joker comes from a Mexican photo souvenir deck from -judging by the few cars that are on some photo's- about 1950, produced by Clemente Jacques. It had 4 jokers, of which we chose this cute guy as our joker for this month. The caption says "jugador de pelota - Jalisco. Jalisco is a region in Mexico and the photo shows an antique statue of a player of the game called pelota, which can be dated back to the Mayan days and is similar to the present ja-alai game, still played throughout South America and the southern states of the USA. It doesn't say how antique this guy is, but we thought it funny that his pose and looks show a great resemblance with a modern baseball player, ready to hit the ball. It's a not often seen souvenir deck/joker, so....... ENJOY!

JUNE 2014

There were two interesting meetings for card collectors this month and Joop visited both. The first weekend brought the Dutch collectors meeting in Velddriel, which was a bit disappointing this time in terms of visitors and participants. The second weekend Miriam joined in and we went to the Collectors Day at the National Playing Card Museum in Turnhout, Belgium. Both meetings brought us new decks for our collection and some nice trading material too. Downside was that Miriam probably ran into the wrong virus at the meeting or at the restaurant on the way back and eventually ended up in hospital a week later.
Of course the Dutch auction site and Ebay were under close watch this month and both brought us some nice decks too. Worth mentioning is the "Electric Mah Jongg" deck from 1924. It's the third one that we have bought. The first one was sold, but afterwards Joop felt sorry that he had let that one go. It's not our kind of cards, but he was so charmed by the designs of the mah-jongg cards, that he bought a second set a few years later. It wasn't the perfect one as advertised and although he got a good refund for the imperfections, he had to wait another year before finding the perfect set. But .... alas for you here.... no use of jokers in mah-jongg!
Still we had a large number of jokers to choose from this month. Our chosen one was offered at the French Ebay, where we got two complete decks of 52 cards and 2 jokers each. The other joker is similar but with a black text. "The King's Fool" was used by Camoin from Marseille in a special single imaged deck from c1960. The company went out of business in 1971. 

JULY 2014

This month there were not that many jokers to choose from as last month. We had our bids on quite a few antique, so jokerless, decks, but as we didn't win any of them, that was not the reason. We have become more critical about the decks that we buy for our collection. It's a question of numbers and volume. We have about 10.000 jokers, but a lot of them come from the more than 5000 decks that we have at the moment. Notwithstanding our critical look we added 12 new modern decks to our collection this month and for us that's a rather slow month. So it's becoming clear here that we can't go on like this. There's not enough cupboard space to store all the decks and not enough space for new cupboards either. So we've decided that we will have to sell some of the decks from our collection again. We have already done that about 2 years ago, when we sold some 40 less interesting decks and started selling off Disney decks. We'll probably continue with that after the summer.
Ebay has such a divers offer and sometimes decks pop up that we have never seen before. Usually those are the antique ones, but every once in a while there's a modern deck too. Our Joker of the Month comes from such a deck. Because we follow the offer on Ebay almost on a daily basis, we see a lot of decks passing by. Mostly the never seen before ones are new publications, but occasionally it turns out to be a vintage gem. This time our new found deck was designed by Olli Thompson and published in 1975. In the 1970's a number of non-standard Afro-American decks were published and we thought we had all of them, but this one proofed us wrong. It was probably a small edition, otherwise we would have seen it more often. So a rare joker again this time, drawn in a clear 1970's style. 

AUGUST 2014

Except for the first week August was wet, wet, wet. So only two outdoor antique markets were visited. One of them was the last in a series of three antique markets in Apeldoorn, a pretty big market with some 250 stalls. We did find some nice trading material and Miriam bought a porcelain cards holder by Wedgewood, containing a simple standard patterned deck, so no exiting decks for our own collection. And the other antique market, a much smaller one in the center of Amsterdam, didn't bring anything new either, but we always have a drink afterwards in a bar overlooking one of the canals, so that makes up for it.
But notwithstanding the poor results of the markets, we had a large number of jokers to choose from this month. We may not have scored much in the antique department, but we received enough modern decks and these brought us two or more jokers in each deck. We had backed some projects on Kickstarter and this month we received 3 different decks that we had backed. First came Mike Lees' Steampunk Goggles deck, then Emmanuel José's Clipped Wings deck and just before the end of the month we received the latest Uusi deck, named Hotcakes. Although these decks were not the only modern ones, they supplied the most interesting jokers, because each of these new publications was a limited one, so these jokers will not be seen very often.
We chose one of the 2 jokers from the Clipped Wings deck. Emmanuel José has a special technique to create his images. He cuts them out, with scissors or hobby knives. The deck show 52 different birds. The other joker shows the same Dodo bird in full feathered dress, but this one definitely shows that these birds are extinct now. 

SEPTEMBER 2014

The annual convention of the IPCS was held in Berlin this year. Of course the city itself is a good reason to spend a few extra days there, so we decided to take 4 extra days before the convention started. A good decision, as these days had some terrific weather and we could eat outside almost every evening. The only evening that we had dinner inside, was on Wednesday, when we were -207 meters high up- enjoying the food and view in the rotating restaurant of the Television Tower on Alexanderplatz.
We don't always buy a lot of decks during the trading sessions at these conventions, but this time we already managed to get some 12 decks for our own collection before the actual trading session had started. There were only a few that were never issued with a joker, so together with the decks from Ebay and a funded Kickstarter project we had a good number to choose from.

There were cute ones, elegant ones, funny ones, but we went for rare with a big R this month. Barney Townsend had brought our copy of the latest Elaine Lewis transformation deck to the convention. She is still working to finish coloring the last ones from this limited and numbered edition of 50 decks only. The deck is titled "The Great War Centenary" and we have nr. 32/50. There's only one joker in the deck, so there will never be more than 50 around. Each is colored by hand separately, so there will be small differences. It makes each of these jokers pretty unique and this one definitely the rarest joker of this month!

OCTOBER 2014

We haven't been visiting a flea market for some time now and this month wasn't any different. Somehow the attraction is gone. Nowadays you have to wade through miles of clothes and hardly find anything decent. Fortunately there are still some collectors meetings. This month the new season started with the meeting in Nieuwerbrug. Obviously there has been some miscommunication, as a number of sellers didn't show up and the trading bourse was the smallest ever. Still we found some nice additions for our own collection and some good trading material too. 

Ebay did bring a few new decks and there were a couple of Kickstarter projects that we had co-funded which brought us some new decks too. So there were plenty of jokers to choose from. Certainly worth mentioning are the jokers from 2 decks by the American artist Chet Phillips. But this month we went for rare and vintage again.

The joker comes from a French deck that was published by Ducretet Thomson, a French company that produced radio's as well as vinyl music discs. The deck has a modern non-standard pattern and the joker bears the signature of the artist: J.C. Mutter. It's dated too: 61, so the deck is 53 years old now and definitely qualifies as vintage. And as we have seen many decks during the 18 years of collecting but have never seen this deck before, it qualifies as rare too. So for you a rare and vintage joker to enjoy here this month!

NOVEMBER 2014

No, we didn't go for large this month. Although the deck in which this joker came is somewhat larger than usual, for us size doesn't matter. Again we go for rarity and as there are only 500 decks made, this joker will in future become one of the rarer jokers. It shows the German emperor after having signed the peace at Potsdam, which ended the Great War or World War I and left Wilhelm as the Joker.

We visited the Belgian National Playing Card Museum in Turnhout this month and were received by Filip Cremers, who showed us around the office and working spaces of the museum. As "friends of the museum" we received a deck that was printed by Carta Mundi and published by the "friends of the museum club", officially called Turnhout Wereldcentrum van de Speelkaart vzw. It was done in a limited edition of 500 decks only. The deck was designed by Ferdinand Gevers and on the fronts there are pictures from WWI. Each suit represents one of the belligerent countries. The backs show all different court cards from WWI decks from all over the world. So it's not a deck to play with for money. The back of this joker shows a joker from a rare Belgian deck, that was published by Brepols in January 1920 to commemorate the participants of WW I (see: http://www.dxpo-playingcards.com/xpo/war/war02.htm).

We did have some other rare jokers to choose from, as we could add some nice decks to our collection again this month. Worth mentioning are the 2 jokers that came with the pin-up deck by James Hodges. So do visit this month's Deck of the Month, they are on display there.

DECEMBER 2014

December is a month, in which we usually have to do a lot of shopping: for Sinterklaas and Santa Claus. We're a bit old fashioned and still do our shopping in actual shops. So there wasn't that much time to spend on the internet, where we basically only shop for playing cards. We kept an eye on the Dutch auction site, but we missed most of the offer on the American and French Ebay. So only a very few decks came our way from abroad, but one of them even became our Deck of the Month.

There was just one collectors meeting this month, at a new location in Kerkdriel, and it brought us some nice new decks. Among them was this Italian deck with artwork by Pier Canosa. The deck is titled Carte di Natale and it was probably published around Christmas time, as it celebrates the birth of Jezus. On the joker the references to that event are clear too. Although it would have been very suitable as Deck of the Month in December, the deck didn't win that competition and as compensation we wanted to put the joker in the spotlight here. It's a not often seen deck, so you won't come across this joker very often either. A good enough reason to present it here as Joker of the Month. 

 

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