JOKER OF THE MONTH

Started in March 2004, there will be a new "joker of the month" added to this xpo each month.
The shown joker presents the best one that came to us in that month.

Each year we'll start with a clean sheet, but previous years will remain on xpo.

 

*** 2020 ***

JANUARY 2020

A new year and the downsizing of our collection has finally begun. This means going through boxes with decks that still had to be processed, deciding which would stay and which would be sold/swapped. Besides our new Deck of the Month this Joker of the Month comes from a deck that will stay in our collection.

It's a rarely seen Finnish deck, that was printed and published by Abo-Turk in 1941. The courts are done in an Art Deco like style. The used card is not of high quality due to the scarceness of paper, caused by WW II.
The courts are printed in full colour, but this girly joker is just in red/white. The design is not as spectacular as that of the joker from our Deck of the Month -be sure to check it out- but she scores a bit better in rareness. 

FEBRUARY 2020

There was a large collectors bourse during the last weekend of the month. It is held twice a year and I go there on both occasions. Officially the bourse is only on Saturday and Sunday, but on Friday the sellers get a chance to put their stuff on the stalls and collectors get a chance to attend at a slightly higher entry fee. I usually go on Friday and Saturday.
It meant having to wait until the last moment, because you never know what you may find there, even on Saturday. This time no real finds for the joker section. But I had a back-up.....

A modern joker this time. I came across it when I was sorting out some Italian decks with the nowadays usual question.... to stay or to go. So this one got to stay. There was a second joker, a different one, but I liked the colours of this one better. They both came in a deck that was designed by Ugo Nespolo and published by the R.A.I. in Italy in 1997. The deck was printed by Dal Negro from Treviso.
Usually the Italian jokers are "jollies", they often have a Jolly Joker in the pack. This one has simple stars, but the design of the colourful figure expresses his being jolly.

MARCH 2020

I'm a member of a few different Facebook groups about playing cards. Since a few days there's a new group, that deals with counterfeit decks, false jokers and other misbehaviour in the playing cards world. I had written a short story about the Russian publisher MAK who shamelessly copies artwork from the internet and turns the pictures into decks. One of the members asked me to show the Olympus deck by Wolfgang Behrend. I had been in contact with the artist between 2010 and 2013 and had written that Wolfgang (1944 - 2015) had pictures of cards on his website, showing complete decks there. But one of these decks hadn't been published yet, as Wolfgang was still looking for a German printer for this deck. In one of our last contacts I could tell him that this Olympus deck had already been printed and published in Russia..... by MAK.

When I was scanning the courts from this deck for that member I realized that the joker (one of 2 similar designed ones) was not often seen and although from a rogue deck, still worth showing here. I'm a bit lazy! Sorry.

APRIL 2020

I don't know how it is in other countries, but here in the Netherlands our "intelligent" lockdown means that only people in "vital" functions are still allowed to work. Bars, restaurants, nail salons and many other small businesses have been ordered to close down. If possible people work from home, but there are a lot of people at home without a job to go to. Schools are still closed, so the kids are at home following classes on a laptop.
But family life has changed too. People start with a thorough spring clean, redecorate or refurnish their living or bedrooms. There's a lot more reading, playing family games or sport exercising at home. 

With most of the shops closed online shopping has increased enormously, but fortunately one of the appointed vital jobs is that of delivery man/woman. "Order before 23:00 and you'll have your package delivered tomorrow" is advertised a lot in the Dutch online shops. Okay, the Netherlands are a small country, but still this puts a lot of strain on the distribution chain.
The delivery men work more hours than ever before and often at a minimum wage, so I thought that they might deserve some recognition and praise too, just like the doctors and nurses in the hospitals.
This month's joker sums up their problems: too many packages and too much hurry. It's an American joker, with an advertising back for Appleton Electric Products. I would have told you more, but oops...got to go. There's someone at the door: the delivery man with the hometrainer that I ordered.

MAY 2020

Only 3 decks this month, of which two were never published with a joker and the third one had a standard CM joker. So I had to find another source. In one of the Facebook groups about playing cards I show a different deck each day since April 2: "the lockdown series".  Last week I had to find the jokers to go with the Cashmere deck by Piatnik. I knew what they looked like and that they would be in a holder that Miriam named "heads". I found them, but while strolling through the sheets I saw a good number of jokers that I couldn't remember seeing before. I showed a few of them in the Joker Collectors group on FB.

For this spot I went back to that holder and found this joker. I do remember it, because it carries a memory. 
It must have been about 12 years ago. We were on our way home from a vacation in Italy and before a last weekend in Paris we found a hotel in Reims. Through eBay I had been in contact for several years with a French collector from Reims and we had arranged to meet him at his home there. He showed us his collection and some duplicate decks. We had found some interesting decks in Florence and we decided to swap a few decks. This joker comes from one of them, printed by Grimaud, designed by James Hodges and published by Tissmétal in 1974. Apparently it's a very rare deck, as I've only seen it once more since then. So a good joker to share here.

JUNE 2020

This month I visited a joker collector. He was relatively new to the hobby and he wanted to swap jokers, not buy them. So I took a look at his duplicate jokers, but they were all pretty common. He also showed me his collection and even although that mostly consisted of common jokers too, there was one that I had never seen before. When Miriam was still around we had visited beginning joker collectors before and were always surprised to find one or two in their collection that we had never seen before, no matter how limited that collection was. Same here.
I hadn't swapped jokers before, that was Miriam's thing, but I was in a good mood and because he was a beginning collector I generously offered him 20 duplicates of mine to swap for this one from his collection. That got him a bit suspicious at first, but he had already picked almost 20 to swap and his greed got the better of him, so he agreed on the swap.

So here she is, sitting on the moon holding up a drink, surrounded by stars and some light brown nebula's. No, she's not in the best condition. The back shows a goose in flight and advertises Miller High Life, "the champagne of bottle beer". So that's probably in the glass she's holding. Google brought some more information. Apparently this logo is called "Girl on the Moon" and there have been at least 5 versions of her. This version would have been in use in the 1950's. I think it's safe to say that the joker was made in the US, but couldn't put a maker to it. Nevertheless...... cheers!

JULY 2020

Only one deck arrived this month, It's from the 1850's, so from the pre-joker era. But I did buy jokers this month, in fact 99 of them. They are Heineken jokers and all the same. So why buy them? Well, they came as an uncut sheet and that sheet was printed by the Speelkaartenfabriek Nederland. This company is the only real focus we had in collecting playing cards and we have tried to gather as much material as possible, so decks, advertisements, prints etc. It's not the first time that the jokers for a deck were printed separately by SN and the sheet was bought just to prove that point.

Interesting as that may be, it also means that there were no jokers to choose from this month. Just as I thought I would go through some albums with jokers and choose one, I remembered an unusual, but rare vintage single joker that I had recently put in a sales album. It saved me a lot of time and the joker is well worth showing here.
It came with the "Grand Dukes" deck, which was printed by AB Spindulis from Lithuania around 1930. I doubt that you'll ever see this one in real, so....... enjoy!

AUGUST 2020

On August 20 there finally was an outside antique market in Apeldoorn again. Three previously announced ones had been canceled due to a certain virus. But it was different. Usually I do a lane, looking at stalls on both sides. Now each lane was divided in two directions. A good number of people wore facemasks, but it was hard to comply with social distancing. Usually I do the market at least twice, but this time I decided to find my car after just one round.
But I didn't go home empty handed, although the finds were limited to a small double box with 2 almost antique German patience decks and....... this joker. I found this cute, classy guy in a small album with jokers, all priced at 1 euro. I was especially glad, because this find solved the last problem of this month in one stroke. I had already found the new Deck of the Month a week earlier, but that was never issued with a joker.

Before putting the joker here, I decided to do some research, because I found the 5 in a star in combination with the 5 stars that he's juggling with rather intriguing. The E.E. Fairchild Co. was based in Rochester, NY, and has produced playing cards roughly between the 1930's and 50's. However, a more accurate dating seems to be possible. In 1938 the company produced the "Crompton Five Suit Bridge", mentioned as NS22 in the Hochman Encyclopedia. It's not pictured there, but the extra suit is described as green and shaped as the combination of all the other suits. The suits are not shown on this joker, but I think that it's the best explanation for that intriguing 5.

SEPTEMBER 2020

There are a lot of jokers offered at a Dutch advertising site, of which most are pretty common ones. Every once in a while you may find a more unusual one and I fell for this lady as soon as I saw her for the first time.
But it wasn't until I received her in the mail that I fully understood the design. The back promotes "GAZ" and the French text sums up the advantages of using (natural) gas at home. It explains the flame shape of the head and the T-shaped piece for pipes as clothing.

She came as a single joker, so there is no way of telling anything more about her. The text is only in French, but still I believe that the joker was made in Belgium. Don't know why, just a hunch. There's a signature of the illustrator at the bottom of her foot. Hard to read.....Six?
Anyway, it was the only joker that I bought this month. Miriam was a joker collector as well as a playing card decks collector. I'm more interested in decks only, but am still convinced that the collection needs to be downsized, so I'm trying to limit myself to buying only antique and rare old or modern decks. They usually come without a joker, so in order to continue this section I will have to buy the occasional single joker.
Well, I hope you'll like this hot lady.

PS. A Dutch fellow collector, Rina, wrote me that she has this joker with the same back, but in Dutch. So "made in Belgium" is most likely correct. Now.... anyone with a maker's name?

OCTOBER 2020

A busy month, but in the end one with only two new decks for the collection. And..... good news for this page: both had a joker worth showing here. Still it was an easy choice. The other joker can be seen in our Deck of the Month, a rare souvenir deck of the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, because the cards and holder are made of aluminum.

This joker here is a kind of scoop. It comes from the latest transformation deck by Elaine Lewis. She has been working hard this year on the deck that is in the process of being published as "Once Upon A Time" in a numbered, limited edition of 50 hand coloured decks. October 1st I had received an email from Barney Townsend that Elaine had finished my deck. I sent payment immediately and a fortnight later the deck with #21/50 was delivered. By that time it had sort of  slipped my mind, so it was a nice surprise again.

Delightful designs on all the cards, courts as well as transformed pips. However, I couldn't put up two of Elaine's decks in a row as Deck of the Month. So she'll have to settle for Joker of the Month this time. The title suggests that the deck deals with fairy tales and with that knowledge it's not very difficult to put a name to this joker, so..... meet Jack (and his beanstalk).

NOVEMBER 2020

I could have shown you one of the 2 jokers that come with a deck that I have published this month, showing artwork by the Dutch artist Pim Leefsma, but as you could expect..... they are to be seen in our new Deck of the Month. Interested? CLICK!

So a different one, but still one that isn't often seen. The reason for that is that it was never published in a deck. The jokers and all the other cards for a complete deck were found single in packages of bubblegum. So by eating a lot of bubblegum and smart trading one could make a complete deck. It's very hard to find a complete deck, then and nowadays too. This one came in a lot of some 120 cards, yet not a complete deck could be made from them.
The Fokker F27 Friendship was produced in the Netherlands. The aircraft was designed in 1954. It was the top model of Fokker until bankruptcy was filed for the company in 1996. The first F27 was delivered to Air Lingus in September 1958. And guess which airline is pictured here. But the cards, also made in the Netherlands, were produced much later, in 1965, by Rhoon BV from Heerjansdam, for the Monty Factories in Leiden.

DECEMBER 2020

No new jokers in the mail and no visits to other joker collectors for trading or buying. So I had to go through Miriam's collection. That is divided over several holders. I took out one randomly and it was called "sitting". Looking for one to show here, I saw several jokers that I had never seen before or didn't remember seeing. Miriam usually went her own way during meetings. She went to look at the books with jokers, while I was at a different table looking at decks. On the way back she would show me her finds while I was driving. At home she would make several stacks of new jokers, one for each appropriate holder. So there were several moments for me to see them, but apparently my memory wasn't of the same quality as hers. She almost always knew which joker she already had in her collection and which one would be new. Later when she couldn't attend meetings, I used to buy jokers for her, but usually half of them was already in her collection.
Anyway, this one I did remember. The joker comes with a special game. Judging by the back it was published as "Belisha" in the Pepys series of special card games. Probably in the 1960's.

 

The jokers of the month from.....

 2004  2009  2014  2019
2005 2010 2015 2020
2006 2011 2016 2021
2007 2012 2017
2008 2013 2018
or back to...
JOKERS