When we first planned to have members vote on which historic deck should go to reprint, we photographed a few old back designs at random from our own collection. Once you voted on Deck #3, we got to work tracking down the story of this deck back. And we came up short.
No one knew where it came from; the printing plate may have fallen from the sky and into the glass protective case, for all we know. Consulting expert friends—particularly Lee Asher and the crew at 52 Plus Joker—didn’t work either; everyone was stumped as we were.
The closest we got was an estimate from card collector and playing card historian Joe Pierson. Joe says that based on the Anglo-Japanese style of the card back, he’d date the card from around the Aesthetic Movement in the 1880s. Proponents of the Aesthetic Movement believed that art for art’s sake was more important than art that served a purpose (like a statement on morality, politics, etc). The Anglo-Japanese style rose to prominence in the last half of the 19th century, when a worldwide appreciation grew for Japanese art and decorative arts.
Whatever its history, we plan on bringing this deck back to life in 2014.
If anyone has more information about this deck, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.