JOKER OF THE MONTH
*** 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.
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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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