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.

 

*** 2022 ***

JANUARY 2022

In order to reunite some jokers with their decks I had to go through the joker collection quite often. Miriam had created several folders to make it easier to find certain jokers and several of them were filled to the brim, like the 2 with "Standing" jokers.
One of the smaller folders is named "Black & White" and while searching for certain jokers I was each time attracted by two of them. I'm pretty sure that they were American, so I checked the older American decks, but apparently they didn't come with a deck and Miriam had bought them as single jokers. One is the narrow type and this here is the wide version.

Finding the manufacturer (and date) proved to be a long search that in the end brought no answer. I started with turning pages in the Hochman, then browsed through all the American and Canadian manufacturers at the WWPCM site and finally tried a Google image search. But I didn't find an answer or even a picture of it in any of them. Then I realized that it could be Australian too, so back to the WWPCM site and voilį: Reed Paper Products' standard joker in the 1910's and 1920's.

FEBRUARY 2022

Ever since I had to decide to sell most of the playing card collection I've tried to stay away from flea or antique markets and auction sites, but every once in a while I can't help myself and I visit the Dutch auction site. There I found the deck that has this joker. I have the deck, but in a 32 cards version, so with the same nice courts and aces, but without the joker.

This athlete comes with the "Sport Kaart" deck, which was published for the Olympics in Amsterdam in 1928. The title is in Dutch, but the deck was printed by the Vereinigte Stralsunder Spielkartenfabriken A.G. Werk Altenburg from Germany. It was designed by Pix, as the signature on the joker reveals, which stands for the the German illustrator Otto Pech. There are 2 versions of the deck. In Germany it was published as "Sport Karte", with German indices K,D,B. My deck has the Dutch indices H,V,B and shiny gold corners.

It's a rarely seen deck and the joker is a rare one too, so you can imagine that I'm very happy with this version. And as it came in the original box it will be one of the selected decks that I will keep as a small collection.

MARCH 2022

This month I just picked an album from Miriam's collection and from that album I picked the first joker that I liked. And who can resist a joker who's winking at you?

Life can be made easy and I knew that, when I saw that the name of the maker was already mentioned on the joker. So no searching for that.... B.P. Grimaud from France.
Because it's an advertising joker for Kodak (films and camera's, as it says in French on the backs), dating was made easy. Taking a magnifying glass I could identify the type of camera as Instamatic 155X. The Kodacolor X films were introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1963 for the first Instamatic camera's. Production ended in 1974. The 155X camera was introduced in 1971 and production ended in 1977. Wikipedia has all the answers nowadays.
I guess that advertising this camera was the most effective at the introduction, so that would date the joker as 1971/72.

Now that I found all the answers I realize that I've been tricked. He's not winking at me, but just closing one eye to look through the camera. Oh well.

APRIL 2022

This month I had to find a good number of jokers to complete decks for the Bargains section. It meant going through the different albums and each time I went through the "Standing I" album this joker caught my eyes. I don't think it's a particularly rare joker and many collectors will probably have it in their collections, but when I was looking for a joker for this spot a few days ago, it happened again and I decided to see what caused this attraction.

Maybe it's the pose, but the figure is presented here as a serious looking, confident, strong young man. Not at all a clown or funny guy. In fact the only reference to a joker is the marotte (joker head on a stick). It's no coincidence that the figure is dressed in Indian looking clothing. He was produced there. The WWPCM site doesn't give a maker, but mentions "poop-cee" as Indian brand. As far as I can see that's well possible, as the Poop-cee brand was carried by an Indian trading company since the early 1970's. Although nowadays the Poop-cee brand seems to stand for bottles for baby food, it's possible that about 40 years ago they carried a more varied assortment, including playing cards.
But then there's the placing of poop-cee in the design, between the legs. Maybe it's my naughty mind, but in my imagination it's more like an oopsy there.

MAY 2022

I had to find the second joker of the Deck of the Month and according to the file card it was in the "Heads" joker album. While searching I came across some other "heads" which would make a good Joker of the Month. This one was one of them and I immediately recognized it as one of the 2 similar jokers that came with the Rummy Nr. 210 deck by Piatnik. The deck has caricaturist nonstandard courts and must have looked quite modern when it was published in 1934.
After scanning the joker I took a closer look at it. Maybe it's just me, but I observed a gender transition. I had always taken it for a male joker, but now I saw it change into a female one. Maybe it's that cuff, maybe together with that odd headwear, but suddenly I saw an older, a bit chubby woman. Rests me to wonder what's on that card that she's holding and apparently gives her so much delight.

Click HERE if you would like to see the nonstandard courts of the deck (and the black star version, which doesn't show the Piatnik name).

JUNE 2022

How's your Polish? Maybe a bit hard to read, but next to the joker's head it reads "Ferd.Piatnik i Synowie T.A. Wieden". Last month we could read the German version at the bottom of the joker. I'm pretty sure that there are jokers with the English version, Ferd. Piatnik & Sons Ltd Vienna, too. Can't recall a joker with such a text in Dutch though.
Anyway, it's a Piatnik joker that is not as often seen as other standard Piatnik jokers. This one came with a deck that was made for export to Poland and published there as "Wistowe No. 140" around 1930. The courts show Polish historical figures and the scenic aces show Polish cities. I came across the deck when I was sorting out a box with decks to sell.
I put up the deck in the Bargains section and it was sold after 3 days. It's on its way back to Poland. The Polish collector who bought the deck told me that it's hard to find older Polish decks in excellent condition there. Well, this one was never used and came in the original wrapper.

JULY 2022

As said in the Joker Collectors group on Facebook, this month I chose a joker for this spot from the album, which Miriam had titled "Animals". So I saw a lot of cute cats, dogs, horses, birds, lions, giraffes and many other animals, but I wanted it to be a vintage or antique one. That made the choice somewhat easier and this joker became the chosen one. What attracted me was that the design fills the outline completely. It has a background and shows a lot of detail around the main scene.
I didn't even check to see if we had the complete deck, because I knew it would date to a period in which adding only one joker to the deck was usual. And I was proven right, when I had turned lots of pages in the Hochman Encyclopedia and had found the joker (NU6, p110)
It was printed by the National Card Company during the time that this was still an independent company under the founder, Samuel J. Murray. The joker came with the first deck in their Aladdin brand, which is dated as c.1885.
I guess that Miriam found the rabbit more important than the 2 goblins, imps or how should I call them. I've seen them on other jokers from this period, but here I agree with Miriam that the rabbit is the intriguing one in this scene. Did the imp crack the egg open with his acorn and did he release just a rabbit or perhaps the notorious Easter bunny?

AUGUST 2022

This month I had to browse through all of Miriam's joker albums, just to find the correct jokers to complete decks for the bargains section. A few times it inspired me to share a special joker in the Joker Collectors group on Facebook. On the second last day of this month I went through the second "Series" book and came across this joker.
At first glance it looks like a well-known joker from the UK and that's probably the reason why Miriam had put it in a series of variations of that joker. It's not just another red version and Miriam must have spotted the differences in details too. She had a keen eye for that.
First there's that clubs sign on top of his head, then I noticed the suit signs on the joker hat. Looking at the other jokers in that series, I also noticed the clouds here as background (instead of the shadows) and the difference in pavement or whatever this joker is sitting on.

From the WWPCM site I learned that this joker wasn't from the UK, but was made by Josef Schneider from Vienna, Austria. This playing card manufacturer (Spielkartenfabrik) was active there between 1962 and 1969. However, on another page of the same WWPCM site, the joker is shown as being made by Franz Adametz since 1930. There even the same advertising on the back is shown, which is for "Garvens ölbrenner", an Austrian company that sold oil-burners.

SEPTEMBER 2022

John & Helen, we've known them since we first attended an IPCS convention. Our friendship led to visits in England and the Netherlands. We last met during the convention in Leinfelden in 2018. This year's convention in Madrid was the first time that they (and I) had to do without Miriam's company. But together with Christian we had three pleasant days together in the center of Madrid before the actual convention started.
It didn't take long after we had met each other at the hotel before Helen handed me a deck of cards. It turned out that together John and Helen had created and published a deck of cards in a limited edition of 35 copies, which they gave to friends at the convention as a present. I think I was the first one to receive one. And of course they were kind enough to sign the ace of spades for me, so this deck will join the club of some 60 artist's signed decks, which will always remain in my downsized collection.
The deck is titled "Hand-drawn Designs Playing-Cards, No. 1" and the box contains all the information that a collector would like to see on every box: Concept by Jowi (John), Art by Hedy (Helen), Printed by Ivory Graphics Ltd, Published in 2022.
It was the first time that they had to go through the process of designing and getting it ready for the printer. It was a difficult process for them, because they didn't have the right computer programs to make this easier. But they got there and are already planning to publish a second deck.

OCTOBER 2022

I had already taken this joker out of it's folder some months ago, because every time, that I passed it while looking for another joker, it had kept my attention for a while..... somehow I liked it! But it ended up in a stack with jokers which had to be reunited with their decks and I lost sight of it.
Now that I found it again I don't want this to happen again, so here it is.
However, when searching for more info about this joker the result turned out to be very disappointing. Although there's a mention of "Whitehall brand", Hochman doesn't have an entry and neither did the WOPC site or the WWPCM site. So that was a dead end.
Another lead was the Mail Pouch company, as mentioned on the mail bag, from Wheeling, West Virginia. Although taken literally in the design by the artist, the complete name of the company is the Mail Pouch Tobacco company, founded in the late 19th century. In 1897 they introduced their signature product, the Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco, for a while nicknamed "West Virginia Cole Slaw". So is this an advertising joker? Probably not, as the back design is a generic one that could have been used for casino decks too.
So no concrete info about this joker and once again I ask visitors with more info to provide it and get their name mentioned here.

NOVEMBER 2022

When you see a joker juggling a product, it's often an advertising one. And this is one too. 
Early this month it was on the news that the famous Tupperware brand was about to go bankrupt. Early 2021 the Dutch branch had already applied for bankruptcy too. So when I was looking through the American holders looking for a 52+Joker deck, my eyes were caught by this joker and when I saw that it came from a nonstandard advertising deck for Tupperware, that was published in 1992, I decided to put one and one together.
Miriam never cared for the special Tupperware products, but apparently she was taken by the courts of this deck, as the deck was bought on eBay early 1993. There was no further info on the fiche that she made for the deck.

The early 90's must have been a much better era for the Tupperware brand. The joker looks very happy juggling their products. I hope he can bring such a smile to your face too.

DECEMBER 2022

Another year gone by and I hope that you all have succeeded to expand your joker collections with some gems. I will close this year with an oldie. A typical American joker by a manufacturer that favored imps were popular on jokers: the National Card Co. from Indianapolis and New York. Here above there's another example as Joker of the Month July. But there are other examples too from this manufacturer, with 3 imps ice skating in their Columbia No. 133 brand or playing cards in their Boston No. 55 brand. 
This joker here comes with the second edition of their Apollo N0. 33 brand and dates from around 1895.

I count a gathering of 12 imps, by far the most on a single joker. The scene seems to tell a story. All I can make of it is that one of them is ordered up the ladder to add the typical imp's hat to Apollo's face. However, a mission impossible with such a short ladder.

Well, leaves me to wish you all a successful joker hunt in 2023!

 

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