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Norwood 85 c.1909. United States Playing Card Company

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Playing Cards61 of 306Small Travelers Poker SetJeu des Rois de France Playing Cards by Grimaud of Paris
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    Posted 5 years ago

    (1 item)

    This is the rarest deck in my collection. I have written at least two articles for Clear the Decks, the quarterly newsletter of the 52 Plus Joker playing card collectors club about this deck and have tracked, as far as possible, the location of other specimens of the deck. The Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards (Revised edition, 2000 by Tom & Judy Dawson) proclaims the deck to be the most beautiful deck ever made by USPC. I have been able to find with certainty only 8 or 9 other specimens of the deck; one each in the New York Historical Society, the Carey Collection housed in the Yale University Library, the Albert Field Collection housed in the Columbia University Library, one each in the hands of three collectors and one, possibly incomplete specimen, at USPC. Including my own specimen, that makes only eight known specimens in existence. I know that there was one specimen of the deck that changed hands between collectors which caused some confusion to me in trying to keep track of the deck and it is possible that there is one more specimen the whereabouts of which I do not know. If that is true then the total number of known decks would be nine.
    Hochman reports that the records of USPC for 1909 indicate that the entire issue of the deck was destroyed and never put on sale! No reason is given in Hochman as to why that was the case and there has been much speculation on the subject by others and myself. I personally question the destruction of an entire issue of this deck for two reasons. First, the deck has been found with two different back designs and second, some of the known specimens have gold edges and others do not. It would appear that the deck was well into production at too many levels to have been slated for destruction. Nevertheless, the fact remains that there are only in existence the few specimens that I have been able to track. I
    was once told by a production employee of USPC that the issue was destroyed and that the existing specimens are salesman's samples. One other thing in favor to the destruction theory is the fact that the deck never had its own box, It has only been found in either a generic box or a box made for USPC's Bijou No.1 brand.
    Whaever the truth of the matter is, I am happy and proud to have a specimen of this marvelous deck in my collection.

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    1. tstugard, 2 years ago
      How much is a deck like this worth?
    2. Sherlock7, 2 years ago
      Very difficult to put value on this deck. On the one hand, it is very rare. On the other hand, interest in playing cards is at an all time low. It makes no difference how rare an item is; if no one wants it, it has no value and right now (February 2020), from what I see happening on eBay, so called collectors only want new decks.
      The late Gene Hochman, author of the Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, valued the deck at $5,000.00 and that was over 35 years ago. I doubt that there
      is anyone around who would pay that price for the deck today.
    3. tstugard, 2 years ago
      Thanks so much for your reply. I’m asking because I have this deck. I got it at an estate sale about 20 years ago. It also has a matching case. It is the storm version. All the cards are there. It has been played with so there is some wear consistent with age, but still very nice and beautiful to look at. I was wondering where would be the best place to sell it.
    4. tstugard, 2 years ago
      It also has gold edges
    5. Sherlock7, 2 years ago
      I have seen playing card collections auctioned by Potter & Potter and reasonable prices are realized. However, I do no know if they would handle a single item, They are listed on the internet and would be worth a call to find out. eBay is very unreliable as a guide to value. It is pure pot luck if you list the deck there but if you do so, I would suggest that you put a minimum bid or a reserve of $3,000.00 and re-list it several times if it does not sell. But try Potter & Potter first and also set a minimum or a reserve.
      What kind of box is the deck in? Is it a plain generic box or perhaps a Bijou No.1 box? Is there a dated tax stamp? If you do list the deck somewhere, be sure to include all details and if I can be of any assistance, just let me know. My email address is: Good luck,
      Rod Starling
      author: 'The Art and Pleasures of Playing Cards"
    6. tstugard, 2 years ago
      Thanks! I’ll take photos and send them to you soon.

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