Someone suggested to me privately to take a closer look at the stamp collectors label used to hold the box together, which I've done - it turns out that this stamp is from 1926 - more on that below.
I did contact USPCC prior to posting all of this, but I have the impression they only check the decks they produce currently. Here's what they wrote:
"We checked our current playing cards product list and we were unable to locate these cards. USPC does not maintain a library or archives of discontinued cards. There are a number of collector's books available to purchase on the Internet or visit your local bookstore or library for available titles. Mrs. Robinson's Playing Card Collector's Handbook published in 1955 offers a timeline of early Bicycle playing cards. http://www.jimknapp.com/Cards/Bicycle.htm.. If you are unable to locate them there, a search on the Internet would be the best place to look for your desired card deck.
So that doesn't get me much further, because it's quite obvious that this isn't a current deck. As for Jim Knapp's website, some Texan Palmetto's are listed on his page with Non-Bicycle cards here: http://www.jimknapp.com/Cards/Non-Bicycle.htm
It's item #26 on that page, but the cards he shows are ones produced in Ontario Canada, and were a much more recent version of this deck. These more recent versions were published in the 1990s/2000s. In 1998 Jeff Busby even wrote a book about them entitled "Secret of the Palmettos" (available here
) that was about edge-marking, which relates to the one-way design of the backs. But these decks had English/French on the cover (as you can see in pictures 1
, and 4
), and they mention Ontario on the Ace of Spades; clearly different from the much older 45 Texan deck with Palmetto backs that I have.
However, there's a few more parts to the puzzle about this deck, some of which add more mystery, and others of which start clearing things up.
1. First of all the tuck box flap has an unusual design and shape - is this unique to a particular era?
2. Here's another interesting thing: on the reverse side of this flap, in pencil, there's some faint writing in pencil.
It's hard to make out, but I recognized the second word: DEDIT. And because I'm an amateur magician, that rang a bell. Specifically this bell
. "MUTUS NOMEN DEDIT COCIS" is a well known mnemonic used for a particular card trick effect (which is based on a principle first described in 1769 by Gilles-Edme Guyot).
Looking more closely, I realized that the pencil writing used a different series of words than what is normally used today: "CICOS DEDIT TUMUS NEMON". That's a variation used in "The Gaming Table: Its Votaries and Victims" by Andrew Steinmetz, first published in 1870 (example page here
). I wonder when the MUTUS NOMEN DEDIT COCIS list was popularized? Evidently the person who wrote CICOS DEDIT TUMUS NEMON on the box flap was either unfamiliar with the more common words used, or learned them instead from Steinmetz' book, or from another source.
But one thing we can conclude from this is: at one point a person who owned this deck was using it for card magic. Which isn't surprising, given that it is a stripper deck.
3. But there's more. On both sides of the tuck box, a stamp has been used to keep it together.
And when you put it together, here's what that stamp looks like:
My son did a bit more research about the Junior Philatelic Society (JPS) in London, and discovered that this stamp was issued in 1926. If it is from that era, that would date the deck around the late 1920s. It's not definitive evidence, but you'd imagine that you wouldn't get a stamp like this and only use it to fix a deck box 20 or more years later. This would have to narrow down the date to some time close to 1930, which is around 90 years ago.
4. There's one final piece of evidence I found in my online research. On a webpage here
about the history of the USPCC, I found the following: "USPC expanded internationally in the 1910s, establishing the International Playing Card Company in 1914, initially for product distribution to Canada. Successful sales in that country led the company to establish a manufacturing facility in Windsor, Ontario, in 1928. Among the unique brands marketed to Canadian customers was Texan 45, a style popular in Quebec since its introduction in the 1930s.
" I've not been able to confirm this, but it does give a date that is around the same era from the Junior Philatelic Society stamp.
I'd love to be able to verify that statement, and find out when the Texan 45 was originally produced, for how long, and whether it was officially produced as a stripper deck for magicians or whether that was a custom alteration to the deck by a magician (and just put instructions for it in the box). Another thing I'm still left wondering is this: does the "8-20" that is under the Ace of Spades in tiny print give any definitive way of identifying this deck?