The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published June 07, 2010 Updated June 19, 2023

Bicycle No.808

The famous Bicycle playing cards were first introduced by Russell & Morgan Printing Co in 1885. More recently the brand has been open to private designers since the early 2000s.

1885 USA Russell & Morgan United States Playing Card Co. Bicycle Add to Collection

The Russell & Morgan Printing Co • The United States Playing Card Company

Right: an advertising card counter that was distributed to promote the 'Bicycle' brand →

The famous ‘Bicycle’ playing cards were first introduced by Russell & Morgan Printing Co in 1885. This was the time of the high-wheeled bicycles and, because they were newer and faster than high-wheeled carts, the name ‘Bicycle’ was chosen for the new brand. They were hugely successful and became the most well-known brand in the world. A total of 82 different back designs were issued over the years, featuring bicycles, motorcycles or automobile motifs, and for very short periods, bi-planes or warships. Similarly, a number of different bicycle-themed Jokers have accompanied decks over the years and the early editions are now very scarce and sought by collectors.

Bicycle No.808 playing-cards early trade card
Bicycle No.808 playing cards, Russell & Morgan Printing Co., c.1885

Above: the first edition of Bicycle playing cards, including a “Best Bower” and issued with seven different back designs of which Lotus, the one shown here, was one. Printed by Russell & Morgan Printing Co., Cincinnati, 1885. See the Box. Image courtesy Rod Starling.

Bicycle No.808 playing cards, Russell & Morgan Printing Co., c.1885-90

Above: the first Ace of Spades was used with Bicycle decks, printed by Russell & Morgan Printing Co., between 1885-c.1890. The same box was used for this edition and the one shown below. Images courtesy Rod Starling.

Bicycle No.808 playing cards, Russell & Morgan Printing Co., c.1889

Above: this is the second Ace of Spades used with Bicycle decks, printed by Russell & Morgan Printing Co. c.1889. It has a bicycle wheel motif on the Ace, with the very early and rare Hi Wheeled Joker, as shown, with a Thistle back design and is gold edged. Thistle was issued in red and blue. This particular Thistle design was issued in 1891 and features a grass background. In 1899, the design was changed slightly to include a brick background. It was eventually discontinued in 1931. Note that neither the customary 'US' or 'Joker' inscriptions are present on the Joker. Subsequent editions came with different Jokers. Image courtesy Rod Starling.

Bicycle playing cards, Russell & Morgan Printing Co., c.1891

Above: another early and rarer Lo-Wheel Joker and an Acorn back design which was issued in 1891 and discontinued in 1943. Acorn was issued in red, blue, brown and green. Image courtesy Rod Starling.

Bicycle No.808 playing cards, Russell & Morgan Printing Co., c.1889

Above: as above, but with the rarer coloured Joker, c.1894. The box states ‘Bicycle Seconds’. Image courtesy Jesse Hobbs.

Bicycle No.808 playing cards, U.S.P.C. Co., c.1895

Above: Bicycle #808 deck printed by U.S.P.C. Co., at their Russell & Morgan factories, c.1895. The court cards have a slightly different design, as can be seen from the Queen of Diamonds. The back design is Racer No.1 which ran from 1895 to 1906. The Joker features a King wearing a Jester's hat, riding a bicycle past an '808' milestone. Click here to view the box. Image courtesy Rod Starling.

Bicycle Bridge No.86, c.1920

Above: Bicycle Bridge No.86 printed by U.S.P.C. Co. at their Russell & Morgan factories, c.1920. The deck is in the narrower French (Whist) size (2¼ x 3½ inches) and the first of a series of narrow decks produced by USPCC under their Bicycle brand. 52 cards + joker. Note that the joker has the number ‘86’ on the milestone but has a different back design in this example! Images courtesy Gino Hasler.

Bicycle No.808 playing cards, USPCC, c.1924

Above: A Braille 'Bicycle No.808' deck for the blind with the card indices embossed in Braille on each card, c.1924. 54 cards. Each card is embossed with its Braille representation of value and suit, including the two jokers. Unfortunately, the embossing goes right through the cards so that a sighted person can read the back of each card like any other marked pack. This is the more common of the early 'Bicycle' Aces of Spades and was used until at least 1925. The Joker depicts a 'King' riding a bicycle past an 808 milestone, similar to the trade card shown above.

Most standard packs manufactured by USPCC came with either red or blue backs. Some brands also came in green or brown, but these are relatively more scarce.

The Bicycle Playing Cards official website contains a lot of interesting information, including company history and a downloadable catalogue. See also:   Bicycle Playing Cards for CollectorsBicycle SecondsCongress No.606Jumbo Bridge No.88Norwood #85

Bicycle playing card backs

Above: assorted backs from 'Bicycle' playing cards, from a total of over 80 different designs, and a multi-coloured Joker.   more →


References:

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

Hargrave, Catherine Perry: A History of Playing Cards and a Bibliography of Cards and Gaming, Dover Publications, New York, 1966

avatar
1439 Articles

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.


Related Articles

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

A limited edition art print of the 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.

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.

2010 Go Green playing cards

Go Green playing cards

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

Are Playing Cards a Good Investment?

Are Playing Cards a Good Investment?

Playing cards can appreciate modestly, with historical annual gains of 2-3%. Rare cards offer higher...

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.