*** 2015 ***


Until a few days ago the winter hadn't produced any snow here, but now we're looking at a white garden. Fortunately we have already done all our card hunting for this month. Just 5 days ago we went to visit a fellow collector/dealer and left his house with a bag full of decks. But we went straight to a nearby village there to pick up a big box full of decks and cards. Although about 80% went into the dustbin, there were a few top finds too. If you want to see 4 rare Dutch jokers, do visit our Deck of the Month (01/2015) in the XPO's section.

But this joker came from Ebay. It was part of an unusual designed deck that was printed by the USPCC and published as "Requiem" through a Kickstarter campaign by the artist Lorenzo Gaggiotti in 2014. It's an esoteric looking deck with Latin words here and there and mystic Roman numbers on some of the cards. The MM and XIV above the design stand for the year 2014, the meaning of the numbers below the title is not clear to us. But we were especially attracted by the artwork. It was a difficult choice because the other joker in the deck is almost just as strong and mystic in design. But we chose this "careless victim". 


January was the month in which the lives of 8 French designers, a visitor and a policeman were taken in an attempt to intimidate the French and the rest of the world not to use their right to freedom of speech. The cowardly attack on the offices, where the Charlie Hebdo magazine was created, was commemorated by millions of  people in demonstrations all over the world. But while they were out on the streets, mr. Lutkovski from Novosibirsk was on the internet, downloading 63 covers of the magazine (copyrights, huh?) and creating a deck of Charlie Hebdo playing cards, that was on offer at Ebay within a fortnight. It was advertised as "French Charlie Hebdo Playing Cards", but when the deck arrived, our expectations were confirmed and the cards turned out to be of that mediocre quality that is typical for all his decks.
But the deck has 11 (eleven!) jokers and combined with the poor number of new acquisitions it was almost inevitable that this Joker of the Month had to come from the Charlie Hebdo deck. We chose this one, because it's a good example to show that the creators of the magazine didn't only focus on cartoons in which the Islam or Mohammed are ridiculed, but that they also ridiculed the leader of the French political party that is strongly opposed against (Islamic) immigrants. Other covers show that Charlie Hebdo also confronted the Roman Catholic church and a wide range of political figures, national and international, with their humorous view on the latest disclosures or political choices. In short, what freedom of speech is all about.
Although ordered in January, the deck didn't arrive until halfway February. So it's a little late, but still a small tribute to the fallen heroes of Charlie Hebdo.

MARCH 2015

This month there was a large collectors fair in Nieuwegein and Joop was there on Friday. We had planned to go again together on Saturday, but Miriam didn't feel well and so we stayed home that day. Fortunately Joop had already found some good decks on Friday. 
But we had to wait until the last Sunday of the month to decide which joker we would put up here. We had spend a long weekend in Paris and on Sunday morning there was a meeting and trading bourse of the French collectors club Accart. Before that we had roamed through our usual markets, antique shops and this time the passages at the Blvd Montmartre too. We mainly did our buys with a dealer at the Accart meeting, but the other places did bring some nice finds too and we came home with a large number of decks. Most of them had jokers so there was a major number to choose from.

It wasn't a difficult choice though. On Saturday afternoon we found only one deck in one of the many small shops at the Porte Clignancourt antique markets. Although made by the famous German Dondorf company from Frankfurt between 1930 and 1933, the deck wasn't very interesting, because it had a standard Rhineland pattern on the courts and plain aces (No. 488). But we had never seen this variation of this Dondorf joker before.
So we hope that we will surprise most of you with this one too. It's obviously a rarely seen joker.

APRIL 2015

The last Dutch meeting at Nieuwerbrug really was the last one. The man who had organized them for many decades, Frans Dekker, had to stop and there were no successors. Miriam was well enough to come along and she decided to take the easy way this time. So she sat down at the tables where single jokers were offered and brought home some 40 new jokers. At least that was what she thought. When processing the jokers she found that her memory hadn't served her well and there were 9 jokers that were already in our collection. 

This "Joker of the Month" was one of the single jokers that Miriam had bought. For that reason there's very little that we can tell you about it. Without the references that can often be found on the box, the ace of spades or extra cards, even an educated guess isn't possible in this case. The figure is obviously African, but the back design only had BF and ZC on it. So there's no clue about country or company and we can only hope that you'll enjoy this dancing, masked African figure as much as Miriam did when she chose this joker for this spot.
And...... should anyone have any information about the deck that holds this joker, we'll be happy to publish that here.

MAY 2015

There were no real collectors meetings and one doesn't really often find nice jokers at a flea market, so they had to come from elsewhere. Unfortunately we don't follow the joker offer on Ebay. When we stumble across them among the playing card offer, maybe once in a while we bid on one and are usually outbid. 

So how to find new ones? Fortunately we know a joker collector, who doesn't really live far from here. Last month she and her hubby came over to exchange some jokers with Miriam. Joop and her friend enjoy a rum&coke in the meantime.

This month Miriam chose one of these exchange jokers. It's a cat, which is no surprise as Miriam loves cats. There are 3 hanging around the house and they live like kings, with a capital K. There's staff to provide food and there's a doorman who lets them out into the garden and back in, whenever they want. In the meantime they lay around throughout the house, sleeping, and if you're lucky they hop on your lap and sleep some more.

When exchanging single jokers it's hard to give any further info about them and this is no exception. Leaves us to say..... ENJOY!

JUNE 2015

The month began while we were on a short vacation in England. We had to be back in Turnhout, Belgium, on the 6th in order to attend the annual collectors day at the National Playing Card Museum there. We arrived there on the 5th after a journey through Belgium with thunderstorms, heavy rain and traffic congestion at several places, all at a temperature of more than 30 degrees C.

Fortunately the next day the weather was calm and sunny again and we enjoyed seeing all the familiar Dutch, Belgian, English and even Russian faces again during the meeting. Of course we couldn't resist taking a good number of new decks home. But Miriam did some single joker buying again too and came home with a stack of them. Of course she later found out that there were some that were already in her collection. It's hard to remember all your jokers when you have more than 10.000 different ones. So buying duplicates has happened before and will surely happen again.

So we had a lot of jokers to choose from again. There were old ones and not-often seen advertising ones, but this month we went for imagination again and choose this Russian joker that came with illustrations in the same style, but in different colors, on the courts. The deck was published as "Ermitry" in 2014 and the imaginative illustrations were done by the famous cooperation of Olga Popugaeva and Dmitry Nepomniashchy.

JULY 2015

Somehow we didn't have much time to spend on flea markets or antique fairs. There were a lot of other things to attend. So no scores from those and Ebay didn't bring any real surprises either. But just before the end of this month we had to buy a large collection of playing cards, just to obtain some 30 decks for our own collection. It was a package deal, but the new decks were real gems and made a fine asset to our collection.

Among them was an antique Belgian deck by a rarely seen maker, Hemeleers van Hoeter from Brussels. The deck dates from around 1860. It was a piquet deck, but with a so-called "nain jaune" (yellow dwarf) joker. It's probably one of the oldest jokers, specially made for the Nain Jaune game. We also found a "nain jaune" joker in an almost evenly antique deck by Daveluy from Bruges, Belgium, which could be dated as c1875.
These finds made us change the opening page of this Joker section and adjust the text about the Naine Jaune jokers there. You'll now find the Daveluy one there and this one too.

We have just started to sort out all the decks and maybe we'll discover some other rare jokers then too, but for this month there's no doubt...... the oldest one wins!


Again a hectic month. Besides the usual chores we had a full social calendar and some necessary renovations had to be done in our home. Among others, we had a personal (chair) elevator installed for Miriam, which connects three floors, so she can reach her hobby room on the top floor as well.
We hardly had time to follow the auction sites, so we didn't buy any decks or jokers at all on the internet. Fortunately we did visit a fellow collector and swapped some single jokers there. Otherwise we wouldn't have had anything to show you here.

One of the jokers that we swapped was this older Dutch joker. It comes from a deck that was produced in the Netherlands by a small printing firm, Druk B.V. from Arnhem. It was published by the General Farmers and Gardeners Union (in Dutch: A.B.T.B.) in 1957. 

Not as old and as rare as the previous one, but this joker isn't seen very often either. ENJOY!


A month with some hectic weeks and a relapse in Miriam's health. But everything seems to be under control again, although it meant that we didn't have much spare time to follow the offer on Ebay. And there was no time to go to flea markets at all, so Joop didn't even bother to see if there would have been any close-by.

Still, we dipped in the Ebay offer now and then. It brought us 3 decks of which one was an improvement and is shown as Deck of the Month and the second one a Russian 32 cards deck, that never came with a joker.

But that was compensated by the third deck, which held 4 jokers. It was a pin-up deck, that was designed and drawn by the German artist Siegfried Heilmeier. He always publishes his decks in small editions, sometimes even less than 25. This comes from a much larger edition, even for Heilmeier a bit unusual. This deck has nr. 64/150 and it was published in 1988.

As said, the deck came with 4 jokers. We chose the most decent one.


It came close to showing another pin-up joker here again this month. It was one from a rare, vintage Hungarian drawn pin-up deck that we had never seen before, although we have gathered a large collection of pin-up decks over the years. We had already made the scan and were ready to write the accompanying text, when we received an obscure Ukrainian deck, in which we found this joker. Putting Vladimir Putin on the joker immediately makes it clear in which part of the Ukraine we should find the origin of this deck, even when there's no name or other text on the box or any of the cards. 

Although it arrived on the last day of the month, mister Putin has dominated the news during the past month in such a way, that we preferred this joker over all the other candidates for this spot. Putin's interest has shifted from the Ukraine to the Middle East. His military bases in the Crimean Peninsula have been secured and now he aims to do the same with his present military base in Syria. In order to keep his protégé, mr Assad, in place as president he had him invite Russian support. In word against the Islamic State, but in fact for the main part against the rebellious Syrian groups that threaten the position of president Assad even more. 
So now it are not the Ukrainian rebels anymore, but the Syrian friends of mr Assad, who are faced with this question.


It was a busy month for Joop, with some odd jobs to be done at home, besides the usual household chores and the playing cards affairs. Miriam hasn't been feeling very well for the last 6 weeks and now she's glad that we've had that chair elevator installed. It all resulted in very little time left to spend on flea markets or the internet.
But there were 2 major collectors fairs to be visited, that couldn't be missed, and Joop spent two days on each of them. Although we owe our Deck of the Month to one of them, they didn't bring us any good jokers.

On the 27th only 2 new decks with jokers had arrived in our mailbox and we had already decided on one of them for this spot, when -thanks to "La Poste", surprisingly fast- a package was delivered on the 28th. We hadn't expected it, but it immediately changed our choice. this month.

The joker comes from a vintage French deck, printed by Heron and advertising "Myro", an apéritif made from Cote du Rhone rosé wine and crême de myrtilles (blackberries). It's a non-standard deck and has 2 jokers. The other one has the words joker and the glass/grapes sign printed in red. It doesn't have the text though, "création filiber nuits st. georges". Nuits St-Georges is a famous wine and town and Joop's favorite stop when traveling through the Burgundy region.


These are still busy times for Joop. Miriam spent 5 days in hospital in the beginning of this month and she still requires the necessary attention while recovering further at home.

Fortunately there was only one collectors meeting this month. Miriam wasn't able to attend, but she had already sorted out a good number of different advertising backs to take along, so now Joop had to bring them to the meeting. Advertising backs are not his cup of tea, but bringing them wasn't in vain as he sold a lot of them there. The downside was, that he didn't have much time to thoroughly browse through the offered decks on the other tables. Still he found a two nice new ones for our collection.
The internet brought a few decks too, but none of the above came with a winning joker this month

This month's joker was specially offered to Joop as a single joker during the meeting. It wasn't a real bargain, but cheap enough to take it along. It's an old American advertising joker, probably from the first quarter of the 20th century, but it was still in perfect condition and a rarely seen one (at least in our part of the world). So....... ENJOY!



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