The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published January 17, 2017 Updated March 13, 2022

55: China 2

Some further American designs used in China.

China USA China Paper Cutting Company Ltd Whitman Add to Collection

The commonest design used today is the ubiquitous modern USPCC Bicycle courts, as discussed on page 54. But it wasn't always the case. When Chinese cards started to appear in England in large numbers after the import duty was abolished in 1960, the commonest courts were derived from Whitman's design for bridge-size cards. Here is the original design:

Above: US5.1 by Whitman; the odd arrangement on the QH means that this design has 5 pips left and 7 pips right, rather than 6/6.

For a full list of all my Chinese cards, see Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

Above: These were made by the China Paper Cutting Company Ltd of Shanghai and were imported into England c.1960-65. They retained the original postures of the courts including the left-facing JS and the QH with a right-hand pip, and the clothing and colour distribution have been altered a little. CUS5.11

Soon a redrawn version was introduced with all the pips on the left so that the seven courts were turned. There were two versions, both with redrawn clothing.

Above: CUS5.13 and CUS5.18, c.1967-75. Compare the altered clothing and different colours. These designs have continued in use right up to the present day.

There are often bits of the design missing: a particularly good example is the JH's halberd and, in particular, his leaf. He has no leaf in the top version and a clear leaf with a rib in the lower one. Now take a look at the variants below.

Above: 1: no leaf, as CUS5.13 above in three colours; 2: small leaf; 3: no leaf, CUS5.14, of which CUS5.18 above is a redrawn version with a leaf; 4: a bit of leaf left, worn plate, 2009; 5: clear leaf, no rib, three colours; 6: clear leaf, no rib, four colours (the green is yellow overprinted on the blue outline plate); 7: full leaf; 8: coloured leaf, no ribs, blade of halberd missing. These date from c.1970-2010.

Some of the redrawings don't seem to have lasted very long, for no apparent reason.

Above: CUS5.15, 1992, clothing design differences, e.g. circles on JS, central band on JH, flower petal design on black roundels on QH.


Above: CUS5.16 an unturned version of CUS5.13, but retaining the right-facing JS and the ¾-right facing QH, 2007.

Above: the most recent redrawing of the design I've come across was bought in Cadiz in 2017. Several faces have been redrawn and the courts that usually have no moustache have been given them and vice versa. Interestingly, they are made to the same size as Spanish cards, so are longer and slightly wider than the usual versions. The colouring is also different.

There are two further versions of US5.1 illustrated on page 3, one of which is rather strange.

The brands are very varied and you can't predict the cards inside any particular box. Here's a selection: 155 Flying Wheel, Phenix, 33 Tiger, 77 Lion, 3005 Lion, 838 Dragon, 852 Kapokbrand, Berman, 6810 Golden Phoenix. I illustrate them with a few boxes below.

Another design used in China is US5, originally by the American Bank Note Co., which was possibly the model for Whitman's US5.1, as it also has a left-facing JS and a QH with a right-hand pip. The Chinese version (CUS5) is difficult to tell apart from the original except by means of the AS, joker and card quality.

Above: US5 by USPCC

Above: CUS5

There are also redrawn versions that seem to be for specific orders. The courts are much more fancy than the originals.

Above: CUS5 redrawn for John Lewis, 2008

Above: an even more fanciful redrawing of CUS5 with several traditional features altered. Thanks to Matt Probert for this one.

Whilst US5 and US5.1 were used as models for the bridge cards, US4 was used for the poker cards.

Above: CUS4 with an AS based on the USPCC Columbia AS without the figure and a joker referring to the China Paper Cutting Co., c.1965

Again we find variation and the JH is subject to various parts of his leaf and/or halberd being left out. Look at the variation below, even with no leaf and no halberd blade. The JC looses the leaf in his hat sometimes and the outline of his yellow and white centre design is also left out in some versions.

c.1965-95

Above: Running after the Moon brand with a different AS and two coloured jokers, c.1975. Usually one joker was in black and white.

There were also three-colour versions, often made in Hong Kong.

Above: Madeira souvenir made in Hong Kong, 1995. Note the copy of the Arrco joker.

There were redrawings, too.

Above: colour variant, different distribution on some courts, 702 Squirrel, c.1980

Above: redrawn, JH without side ribs on leaf and part of halberd blade, no leaf on JC, 240 Swan, c.1980

Above: CUS4.2, redrawn with changes to clothing and the KD's hand is missing.

Again we find a variety of brand names and various ASs and jokers.

Above: brands from c.1965-80

Above: jokers for the above brands; the AS belongs with the Golden Dragon joker.

next page

avatar
137 Articles

By Ken Lodge

Member since May 14, 2012

​I'm Ken Lodge and have been collecting playing cards since I was about eighteen months old (1945). I am also a trained academic, so I can observe and analyze reasonably well. I've applied these analytical techniques over a long period of time to the study of playing cards and have managed to assemble a large amount of information about them, especially those of the standard English pattern. About Ken Lodge →


Related Articles

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

A limited edition art print of the 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

2010 Go Green playing cards

Go Green playing cards

Suggestions how to “go green” and help combat the impact of climate change.

North American wildlife playing cards

North American wildlife playing cards

From humid wetlands to frozen tundra, the wildlife in North America is extremely diverse.

Hummingbirds of the Americas

Hummingbirds of the Americas

Colour photographs of hummingbirds with data about each species to aid recognition.

Seashells playing cards

Seashells playing cards

Each card shows colour photo of a different seashell for easy identification.

Discover trains of North America

Discover trains of North America

55 different Illustrations of railways and locomotives from the United States.

2022 Tarot for Baby

Tarot for Baby

This board book simplifies tarot archetypes into accessible affirmations for young children.

1994 Music playing cards

Music playing cards

Portraits of 13 classical music composers.

1982 Star Trek II • The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II • The Wrath of Khan

This deck is a vibrant photographic tribute to "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," one of the most be...

1992 Norfin® Trolls

Norfin® Trolls

Troll dolls with gaudy hairstyles in a multitude of different costumes.

2002 Impressionist Art Cards

Impressionist Art Cards

Details of 13 paintings by 8 different Impressionist artists on elongated cards.

2003 Safety playing cards

Safety playing cards

Safety playing cards designed to reinforce the “Think and Be Safe” concept.

2016 Politicards 2016 & Politikids 2016

Politicards 2016 & Politikids 2016

Politicards™ 2016 & Politikids 2016: twin decks of satirical playing cards produced by Peter Green f...

2004 K Deck

K Deck

“K Deck” political playing cards, USA, c. 2004.

2016 Tuxedo playing cards

Tuxedo playing cards

Stylish ‘Tuxedo’ playing cards with animal faces created by Natalia Silva, USA, 2016.

2003 The Deck of Hillary

The Deck of Hillary

‘The Deck of Hillary’ with quotes and photographs of Hillary Clinton, USA, 2003.

2005 Shakespeare playing cards: Insults

Shakespeare playing cards: Insults

Shakespeare Insults playing cards with portraits by Jan Padover, USA, 2005.

2004 Shakespeare playing cards: Quotes

Shakespeare playing cards: Quotes

Shakespeare playing cards: Quotes, the first volume of a double set published by Prospero Art of San...

2012 Old Testament playing cards

Old Testament playing cards

Old Testament playing cards with illustrations by Jan Padover, USA, 2012.

2008 Politicards 2008

Politicards 2008

Politicards ’08 with caricatures cast as characters from classic movies, USA.

2003 Starz behind bars

Starz behind bars

Starz behind bars playing cards with mug shots of the rich and famous under arrest, USA, 2003.

2003 House of Cards: Deck of Bush

House of Cards: Deck of Bush

House of Cards: Deck of Bush playing cards presenting reasons not to re-elect President Bush for a s...

Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort whiskey playing cards, USA.

2011 Holy Trinity Church playing cards

Holy Trinity Church playing cards

Holy Trinity Church commemoration playing cards, USA, 2011.

1992 Batman® playing cards

Batman® playing cards

Characters from Batman: The Animated Series on a pack issued in 1992.

2010 FDR New Deal Deck

FDR New Deal Deck

Facsimile of ‘FDR New Deal Deck’ of 1934 re-published by Bill Schroeder, USA, 2010.

2008 Gay / Really straight Republican hypocrites

Gay / Really straight Republican hypocrites

Gay / Really straight Republican hypocrites, USA, 2008

2008 Politically Wild John McCain

Politically Wild John McCain

“Politically Wild John McCain” published by Newt’s Playing Cards, USA, 2008.

Mohegan Sun playing cards

Mohegan Sun playing cards

Mohegan Sun playing cards published by Gemaco for Mohegan Sun casino.

1970 Ripley’s Believe It or Not! playing cards

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! playing cards

Strange facts from Robert Ripley’s ‘Believe It or Not’ books, in the form of cartoons.

2020 Undressed deck

Undressed deck

Undressed deck created by Edi Rudo and Néro Catineau, USA, 2020.

Fate fortune telling cards

Fate fortune telling cards

Fate fortune telling cards published by Merrimack Publishing Corporation, USA.

2004 Politicards 2004

Politicards 2004

Politicards 2004 with satirical cartoons by the award-winning illustrator Peter Green, USA.

1972 Politicards 1971

Politicards 1971

Politicards 1971 for the presidential election in which Richard Nixon won a landslide victory.

1996 Politicards 1996

Politicards 1996

Politicards ’96 with satirical caricatures on every card by Peter Green, USA.

1984 Politicards 1984

Politicards 1984

Politicards 1984 with caricatures by Donald Gates, published by the Kamber Group, USA.

1980 Politicards 1980

Politicards 1980

Politicards 1980 in which Ronald Reagan defeated the incumbent Jimmy Carter, with caricatures by Kei...

1981 Card Tricks

Card Tricks

Stereotypical representations of gay men and men they most admire, in a 1981 pack from San Francisco...

1974 Royal flash playing cards

Royal flash playing cards

Royal flash playing cards with non-standard suits, USA, 1974.

1975 Ms. playing cards

Ms. playing cards

‘Ms. playing cards’ promoting votes for women, USA, 1975.

1986 Old Met playing cards

Old Met playing cards

Old Met playing cards published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, USA, 1986.