The Pep Boys company was founded by four Navy buddies in 1921. They had pooled together $ 800 to start their first auto supply store in Philadelphia, not realizing that it would grow out to the billion dollar, nationwide chain of retail and service stores that it is today. The company was founded by Emanuel "Manny" Rosenfeld, Maurice "Moe" Strauss and Graham "Jack" Jackson. Not many people know of the existence of a second Moe (Radavitz) as founder, but that is because he left the company after a few years. So he's not the well-known characters of Manny, Moe and Jack. They were modeled after the name of the company had been officially changed from "Pep Auto Supplies" to "The Pep Boys - Manny, Moe & Jack". By that time Moe Radavitz had left the company and Manny and Moe had been to California to investigate the marketplace there and had found that a lot of businesses used first names there. A dress shop named Minnie, Maud and Mabel seems to have convinced them and after they returned Moe Strauss asked a friend to create the 3 big caricatures of Manny, Moe and Jack.

According to the Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards (page 182, A11) the Pep Boys deck "was first published in 1928 as a wide deck in a slipcase and due to its success, it continued until 1940 in wide and narrow sizes, as well as pinochle and standard decks." There's no mentioning of chances in the design in the subsequent editions.
We had a wide deck in our collection, so when we saw a narrow one on Ebay at a bargain price, we didn't hesitate to buy it for further trading. At first glance it looked the same and it wasn't until the deck had arrived that we saw that there were a few differences, when compared to our wide deck. So no reselling of this deck and it went straight into our collection. We can't help it, but we enjoy these variations too much, even if the differences are not that obvious.


front of the wide box and the narrow box


Just like the back design the difference in size is apparent too. The wide model (below) measures 63 x 89 and the narrow (above) 58 x 89 mm.
But the size of the Spades symbol and the design of the no-joker has been kept the same, so in the narrow deck they are closer to the edge of the card.
The effect of this is not apparent on the Ace of Spades, but clearly visible on the no-joker.

Another clear difference is in the names on the courts. In the wide deck the individual names are printed on their "crowns", but in the narrow deck all courts have "PEP" on their crowns. On the courts too the size of the designs was kept the same, so the dimensions of the rectangular shape are exactly the same in both decks. Here the indices and pips are closer to the rectangle in the narrow deck. Also apparent: the images of the queen and jack seem to have been mirrored. The kings seem to have remained untouched, but in the design there are a few small differences: the T of Cadet is only half visible in the narrow deck and there's a small red spot now in the circular object. A more distinct difference is in the name of the tire company.

But there's something odd in the mirroring of the queen and jack. Here's a full mirrored version of the wide deck.
Compared with the narrow jack above, 2 adaptations were made: the oil canister was mirrored, but the text had to be adjusted. Secondly the Jack's face  has not been mirrored, although placed on the left now .

On the queens Manny's face hasn't been mirrored either, although the colored design has. But obviously  more chances were made.
The hand with the sparking plug has been repositioned and consequently the set had to loose two legs. However this created space for the round can of Varsity.


In the wide deck an extra "crying towel" card was added, which we didn't find in the narrow.

Probably the special offer had expired by the time that the narrow deck was published.

Although the box of the narrow deck shows another variation with P's on the crowns, we don't think that these cards have been published in the other editions, like the pinochle one. But we will keep an eye out for them, just to see if any other variations exist.

If you're interested to see a Pep Boys deck from 1954, click HERE!

Otherwise......BACK to Variations.