Armed Services playing cards were part of several manufacturer's range of brands in an appeal to patriotic loyalty and as a tribute. Russell, Morgan & Co produced both Army and “Navy” decks as part of their original range in 1881. Incidentally, this was the same year that Clara Barton founded the Red Cross. These two brands were subsequently merged into an Army & Navy #303 brand in c.1884. The Joker in this example is particularly persuasive, whilst the Ace of Spades has a battle scene involving artillery, with Navy ships in the distance and the statue of the goddess of Freedom in the middle.
Above: 'Army #303' playing cards published by Russell, Morgan Co., c.1881. The splendid artwork on the Ace of Spades and Joker would have been a strong appeal to loyalty on the part of members of the Armed Forces. An accurate reproduction of this deck was issued in 1981 to commemorate the USPCC's 100th anniversary. Images courtesy Rod Starling.
Dawson, Tom & Judy: The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, U.S. Games Systems Inc., 2000
All images on this page are from the collection of Rod Starling, author of "The Art and Pleasures of Playing Cards", available on Amazon.