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Published January 10, 2023 Updated January 20, 2023

Romeo and Juliet

Unbranded ‘Romeo and Juliet’ backs by Russell Playing Card Company, c.1911.

1911 USA Russell Playing Card Co. Add to Collection

The original Willis W. Russell playing card business fell into financial difficulties. It ceased operations in 1911 and was sold at public auction. The business was salvaged by Mr Benjamin Rosenthal who merged the former Willis W. Russell and Kalamazoo Playing Card Companies into Russell Playing Card Company. The cards shown here appear to be from that time of transition.

Images courtesy Paul Cotner.

Many former Kalamazoo brands were transferred to Russell Playing Card Co, and packeged either in in Kalamazoo boxes or in ‘books’ as seen here. Before introducing the Russell ace of spades to these former Kalamazoo brands, the new company issued several un-named aces, although the joker has the 'R' indexes already. Where there was no name on the ace, the joker often identified the brand. In this case we see two steamboats sailing past the Statue of Liberty along with the Romeo & Juliet back design which had already been used by Kalamazoo in the Smart Set 400 brand

Smart Set 400

Reference

Dawson, Tom & Judy: The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, U.S. Games Systems Inc., 2000

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


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