Around 1895 the recently incorporated United States Playing Card Company began creating exciting new brands featuring different, or non-standard, court cards in order to celebrate their new beginning. There were several Stage decks and Transformation decks and also these Circus No.47, first issued in 1896. The advertising copy ran as follows: The staid old Kings, Queens and Jacks have given way to various well-known ring masters, clowns and queens. Indeed, the clown Jacks are only a short step away from Jokers!
Above: Circus No.47, issued by the United States Playing Card Company, 1896. This is a very rare deck even though it was in production for quite a long time. However, it may possibly have been made for children thus resulting in a very low survival rate. Note the panelled pip cards. 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".