Sometime after the famous London stamp dealers Stanley Gibbons had opened their Playing-Card Department (1977), it was realised that there was not enough of a renewable supply of antique and second-hand playing cards to keep a business going over a long period. The decision was therefore taken to branch out into the sale of modern playing cards. This involved contacting embassies in London to find out whether there were any playing-card manufacturers or publishers in specific countries and, if so, to obtain their contact details. Once this had been done, manufacturers and publishers around the world were approached and asked to supply samples and price lists. Thus it was that Stanley Gibbons started to build up a stock of modern playing cards.
One of the publishers who was approached quite early on was Jean-Claude Dusserre in Paris (Editions Dusserre). He had reprinted a number of historic packs from the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. These were attractive and reasonably priced so it was decided to place an order for some of them. Jean-Claude Dusserre had a sales ploy which Stanley Gibbons could not resist: if an order was placed for 100 or more packs of any one item, he would create a special Joker design for inclusion in the pack. The gibbon, being a somewhat comical creature, was considered ideal for this purpose, while at the same time being a cryptic or coded way of showing that the packs had been made for, and for sale by, Stanley Gibbons!
The final design shows two gibbons. It was used on the following six packs: Jeu Impérial Second Empire, Jeu des Philosophes de l’An II, Jeu Bonaparte, Jeu Henri IV, Jeu de la Pucelle, and Jeu Equestre Louis XIV. They are identifiable by the different symbols in the corners and by their respective back designs. None of the original packs would have had a Joker so, rather than leave the Jokers blank, Editions Dusserre often used to create special Jokers for different advertisers.
Anyone who is a serious collector of Jokers will know that “Gibbons” Jokers are rare. No more than 100 pairs of these 6 Jokers were ever produced, as Stanley Gibbons never placed a new order before the Playing-Card Department closed at the end of January 1981.
Member since May 31, 2022
Roddy started collecting stamps on his 8th birthday. In 1977 he joined the newly formed playing-card department at Stanley Gibbons in London before setting up his own business in Edinburgh four years later. His collecting interests include playing cards, postcards, stamps (especially playing cards on stamps) and sugar wrappers. He is a Past President of the Scottish Philatelic Society, a former Chairman of the IPCS, a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards and Curator of the WCMPC’s collection of playing cards. He lives near Toulouse in France.
A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.
A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.
Pack created by Yannick Pennanguer commemorating the bicentenary of the French Revolution and the ce...
Reproduction of Jeu des Bonnets Phrygiens relating to the Phrygian cap (or liberty cap), France, 198...
A political pack designed by Pino Zac and published in 1977 by Editions Arts et Lettres.
Geometric designs by the French artist Jean Garçon for Knoll International, the furniture company.
Standard French cards but printed with fluorescent inks on a black background.
Free reinterpretation of the traditional Paris pattern courts by the artist Claude Weisbuch.
Publicity pack for the Campanile hotel and restaurant chain featuring French provincial costumes, wi...
“Les métiers et leurs protecteurs” playing cards published by Editions Dusserre, c. 1995.
Famous people associated with Nicolas Fouquet’s splendid château of Vaux-le-Vicomte.
French navigators and explorers on a promotional pack for the C.M.C.R shipping company.
Characters from the 2007 film Shrek the Third, a DreamWorks Animation production.
Advertising pack designed by James Hodges for a company specialising in regional cakes and biscuits....
Joan of Arc and her contemporaries in a colourful pack designed by Patrice Louis.
Typical costumes and views of Alsace together with lists of the principal sights.
Egg-shaped cards created by Rodolfo Krasno employing photographic images by Michel Leclerc.
French Cartomancy cards published by J. Gaudais; printed by Mansion, Paris, c.1830.
Costumes from four operas premiered at the Paris Opera between 1830 and 1840.
Honouring the bicentenary of the Montgolfier brothers’ first balloon flights in 1783.
A colourful pack aimed at children, with illustrations by Muriel Kerba.
Publicity pack for Gibert Jeune, the famous Parisian bookshop, with designs by James Hodges.
Costumes des Peuples Étrangers & Jeu d’Or dedicated to young people and likely used for games and fo...
“Le Nouvel Etteilla” cartomancy deck published in Paris by La Veuve Gueffier, 1806.
Révolution 1789-1989, celebrating the bicentenary of the French revolution, France, 1989
Scaramouche cartes à jouer with designs by Henri Favre, published by Le Triboulet, France.
Cyclists from the Domex-Weinmann team who took part in the 1989 Tour de France.
‘Cartes Catalanes’ published by Fossorier, Amar et Cie (Paris)
Elegant fashion costume deck published by O. Gibert, Paris c.1860.