The evolution of a brand
In 1881 Russell, Morgan & Company commenced playing card production by issuing six grades of cards with new, purely American names which departed from the traditional English names (such as Harry's, Merry Andrews, etc.) which had been used until then:
- 101 Tigers
- 202 Sportsman's
- 303 Army and Navy
- 404 Congress
- 505 Army and Navy, gold edges
- 606 Congress, gold edges
Tigers #101 was their first brand. It was the least expensive. Initially it was issued with a generic Russell & Morgan Ace of Spades without a brand name or tiger motif, even on the box. Later issues had a “Tigers No.101” branded Ace of Spades and box. In 1885 the Russell & Morgan Printing Company was formed to succeed Russell, Morgan & Co and in 1891 the company name was changed to The United States Printing Co.
In 1894 The United States Playing Card Company was incorporated to hold all the playing card manufacturing operations. This sequence of events can be followed in the inscriptions on the Aces of Spades below.
Over the years these brands evolved in their designs, styles of courts, Aces of Spades and Jokers, progressing from single-ended to double-ended court cards. “Tigers No.101” were produced until about 1930 and a total of five different Aces of Spades and three Jokers are known, with a variety of different court card styles.
The Russell, Morgan and Company printing factory on Race Street had been extended to include machines for making playing cards. Two years later it was necessary to move to a larger factory in Lock Street. In 1891 the corporate name of the company was changed to the United States Printing Company, and in 1894 the United States Playing Card Company was incorporated.
In later years “Tigers No.101” as well as other brands came with or without “Russell & Morgan Factories” printed on the Aces of Spades. Some of the later editions only mention U.S. Playing Card Co. on the Ace.
Member since January 09, 2013View Articles
Rod Starling is one of the founding members of the 52 Plus Joker card collectors club. He has written many articles for the club's quarterly newsletter, Clear the Decks. His collection still encompasses both foreign and American decks. Rod has also authored a book titled The Art and Pleasures of Playing Cards.
Also by Rod Starling
Kings Wild Tigers is Jackson Robinson’s 27th successful playing card Kickstarter campaign. A luxury collectable deck inspired by vintage matchboxes.
Limited edition luxury playing cards by Billionaire Boys Club and Theory 11.
Screenprint designs on an ever-topical subject, designed and made by Sallie Chinkes, 1979.
Publicity pack for the Harley and Helmsley Hotels, U.S.A., c.1986.
The Encarded First Edition is a limited edition of 2,500 designed by Paul Carpenter and manufactured by the Expert Playing Card Company.
Cards slanted to the right, issued to mark George W. Bush’s second term of office.
Playing cards inspired by mysterious symbolism of secret societies as well as a tribute to the National Playing Card Co.
Monarchs luxury playing cards by Theory11, featured in the film Now You See Me.
Luxury playing cards produced by Theory11 in collaboration with The Nomad Hotel in New York City.
Rules and regulations that guided prison life in America’s most notorious prison.
Marvel’s Avengers: The Infinity Saga Premium Playing Cards produced by Theory11 and designed by Mattson Creative, 2021.
A recreated of the original 1876, No. 18, Triplicate deck by A. Dougherty by Michael Scott in 2014.
Triangle Playing Cards by Michael Scott.
Two Notched Construction Card Sets by Shackman & Co, N.Y. 1970s.
IBM Linux One playing cards, c.2018.
Spyscape espionage, surveillance and cryptography themed playing cards, 2018.
Lion Coffee Mother Goose card game, late 19th C.
Fortune Telling cards by Whitman Publishing Co., 1940.
‘Vargas Girls’ paintings by Alberto Vargas in a deck of cards published by Creative Playing Card Co Missouri.
Anma US Armed Forces, 1942.
The Curator Deck with designs by Emmanuel José with suit symbols cleverly transformed into artistic designs.
Sherlock Holmes deck with caricatures by Jeff Decker published by Gemaco Playing Card Co. 1989
Warren Paper Products Co., Lafayette, Indiana, publishers of Built-Rite toys, games and puzzles.
Christmas Playing Cards published by Novelty Playing Cards, Syracuse, New York, 1986.
Hamm’s Beer promotion deck with bear cartoons by Frank M. Antoncich 1968.
“Victory" cards celebrating U.S. participation in the Allied victory, c.1945.
The Maya Deck produced by Stancraft for Hoyle, 1976.
Caleb Bartlett patriotic deck (reproduction), around 1835-40.
Snap card game illustrated with animals, by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.
Roundup card game by Whitman Publishing, 1951.
Old Maid card game by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.
Crazy Eights by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.
Animal Rummy by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.
Authors quartet game published by Whitman Publishing Co., 1951.
Whitman 8 Card Games boxed set, 1951.
Paddington card game published in UK by Whitman.
Avilude or Game of Birds published by West & Lee, Worcester, Mass, c.1880.
In the 1970s Whitman Publishing Co. ordered a series of popular games from Hong Kong for the UK market.
Timothy Curtis Art custom Bicycle playing cards, 2018.
Hanky-Panky poker card game, California, c.1975.