Playing cards are difficult to produce, requiring special paper and coatings as well as a capacity for color printing, and their manufacture came late to America and probably did not begin until after the Revolution. (Dawson, Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, p. 9) Indeed the earliest extant American cards, by Jazaniah Ford of the Boston area, seem to date from the 1790s. Given the heavy use to which they were subjected, all such early cards are rare.
Excellent deck, albeit without joker, of the colorful "George Washington" cards, made c.1934 by American Playing Card Corporation of Portland, Maine. American Playing Card Corporation is a different company than American Playing Card Co. The Kings depict George Washington and have a "G" instead of "K" in the corners, while the Queens (with "M" instead of "Q") depict Martha Washington, and the Jacks depict laborers at various trades. It is a 52-card deck (no box, no joker), and the cards are bridge size, measuring 90mm x 58mm.
Excellent deck of “Golf” playing cards, but without its Joker, made by American Playing Card Company of Kalamazoo, one of the Longley companies, c.1895, with terrific backs. As Dawson/Hochman state in the Encyclopedia: “Even if the box and Joker are missing, the backs, of which there were many, will identify this brand.”
The maker is the individual or institution responsible for the item's manufacture and distribution; in the sample entry it is the American Playing Card Company, 34 South Street, Chicago. The origin, design, and printing of a pack are often the maker's responsibility as well. When the maker's name and location are not found on the catalogued item itself, which is rare, the information is derived from playing card histories or from catalogues of other collections. Establishing the maker's identity is not always possible, but one can often determine his geographical location from the printed matter which appears on the cards. For example, many Trappola packs (e.g., GER 270-279) include cards with inscriptions referring to the location of manufacture. Such is the case in the sample catalogue entry: the Ace of Hearts bears printed matter which states that the pack was made in the United States, in Chicago. If a street address is available, it is entered in the native language after the maker's name. When names of cities, towns, and regions have changed according to political conditions—St. Petersburg became Petrograd, which in turn became Leningrad—the name used is that in effect at the time of the item's manufacture. The geographical names are anglicized (Prague for Praha, Munich for München) in accordance with the revised edition of Webster's Geographical Dictionary (Merriam, Springfield, 1969).
The English adopted this regime from France, the first English reference to cards being from 1462 when they were banned by parliamentary decree. Later on the colonialism of England and France resulted in this style of cards arriving all over the world so that it is now the most popular design.
Modern day French / British / American playing cards