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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

Jokers page 2

More Jokers from around the world.

More Jokers…

In many cases the jokers are removed and binned by the players. Amateur poker schools will often open a new deck, throw the jokers in the bin, and then play with the deck. However, some are undoubtedly removed by joker collectors who later on may well sell the jokers separately.

Some images link to page showing complete pack.







Hong Kong

John Waddington Ltd, Leeds & London, (c.1922-1995)

John Waddington

Above: Originally a general printer, John Waddington first produced playing cards in 1922. The lcross-legged joker was used until the late 1930s. In 1941 they took over the printing of De la Rue's playing cards when the latter's factory was bombed.

De la Rue, London, (1832-1969)

De la Rue Jokers

'Rufford' was a trademark for cards manufactured for Boots the Chemist, c.1930-55.

Special Joker and Ace of Spades, c.1912

Above: Early non-standard Joker and Ace of Spades by The London Playing Card Co. (alias Goodall) for Sanderson Bros & Newbould Ltd, c.1912.

Special Joker for Ye Ancient Order of Froth Blowers, c.1924

Above: Special Joker and reverse design issued on behalf of 'Ye Ancient Order of Froth Blowers', De la Rue c.1924. The back design has the signature 'G.L.S. 1924'.

Special Joker for Duckham's motor oil, c.1925

Above: Special Joker and reverse design for Duckham's motor oil, manufactured by De la Rue for Goodall, c.1925. The De la Rue standard Joker has been adapted for the purpose.

Special Joker for The Manchester Evening News, c.1927

Above: Special Joker and reverse design for The Manchester Evening News, by De la Rue, c.1927. The cartoon is signed 'A. Paxton Chadwick 27'

Special Joker for Knight's Royal Primrose soap, c.1926

Above: Special Joker, Ace of Spades and reverse design for John Knight's Royal Primrose soap, by De la Rue, c.1926. The caption on the Joker reads 'You should see me on Sunday!'

During the 1940s and 1950s, Waddington's were printing De la Rue and Goodall cards as well as their own. Each pack was manufactured with the ace of spades of each maker on the sheet, but with the same courts and jokers, so that packs could be made up for each firm and sold under their respective brand names (e.g. 'Crown', 'Viceroy' or 'No.1').

Special Joker for 3M Company.

Above: Special Joker and reverse design for The 3M Company.

Mardon, Son & Hall, Bristol, (c1930-35)

Mardon, Son and Hall

Above: A division of Imperial Tobacco, they appear to have made cards almost exclusively for the cigarette token market, which flourished during the 1930s. Some advertising packs can also be found, e.g. Players Navy Cut cigarettes. A reciprocal arrangement may have existed with Waddingtons regarding playing card production during the early 1930s.

Berkshire Printing Company, (1930s)

Berkshire Printing Co.

A little-known manufacturer who produced some standard and advertising packs during the 1930s, and may have been involved in the cigarette token market with Waddingtons during the early 1930s.

Porterprint, Jarvis Porter, (c1935-70)

Anderson's/Porterprint/Jarvis Porter Jarvis Porter Special Joker, c.1960

Best known for their crossword game Kan-U-Go, Porterprint also produced packs for Anderson's of Edinburgh during the 1930's (left-hand joker), as well as standard advertising packs for breweries and other firms. The special joker (right) is for Brickwoods, The Portsmouth Brewery, c.1960. From c1950-60 Porterprint also published Ba-Ka-Ree, a card game with extra jokers and extra special aces in the pack.

Simon Wintle, (1987)

Jokers by Simon Wintle

Above: Jokers from the replica of 17th century English playing cards, printed from woodblocks and hand coloured using stencils, designed and produced by Simon Wintle in 1987. Of course these "jokers" are anachronistic since jokers did not exist in 17th century packs.

Woodpecker Press Ltd., (c1988-89)

Woodpecker Press

Apparantly successors to Astra Games (see above), this firm had a relatively short life and produced standard and advertising packs.

Games & Print Services, Essex, (1997-2001)

Games and Print Services

Games & Print Services produce all types of playing card, as well as game and other cards.

Richard Edward Ltd, London, (1997-2001)

Richard Edward Ltd

Based in London, this firm produces standard and advertising playing cards, as well as a range of other printed products. The earlier Joker has been superceded by the right-hand design, which is based upon Goodall's joker and has been re-coloured. The firm is currently re-designing its court cards, including new versions of the Goodall joker.

Catherine Kelly, Dublin, (1999)

Catherine Kelly's Joker

Above: Catherine Kelly created this Joker as part of a special design project entitled Safe as Houses".

Picart le Doux Joker c.1957



Woodpecker Press - see below



Catherine Kelly's Joker - see below



The Joker






2000Pips Joker



Chile Chuckles



Self-Nurture Joker



Universal Playing Card Co. Joker, 1930s



Special Joker for L.G.Sloan Ltd, London, 1930s