Introduced in 1917. Discontinued in 1969. This
basket-weave patterned back was probably issued to compete with the Consolidated Card Company's Bee
No. 92 pattern back. A long run for this design, but it must not have been very popular because you
don't see too many Club decks around.
The Club back is distinguished for being
initially issued in 1917 in a very odd tuck box, pictured below in the first two images.
The box was sealed with a rivet and could only be opened by ripping off the tabs that held the rivet.
An interesting idea but it obviously did not catch on. Recently, however, I bought a deck of Club cards
with the rivet closure that was dated 1936, based on the tax stamp and dating code on the ace
of spades. This deck had been opened. To see what the box looks like opened, see the second image, below.
This method of sealing cards was evidently not used on other Bicycle brand decks, but it was used for at
least 19 years on the Club decks.
The next image shows a complete brick of Club decks. Finding
a mid-century or earlier brick of any Bicycle back design is a very rare occurrence; even if they survive into
today's marketplace there is a good chance that a seller will offer the pristine sealed decks for sale
individually as was done a couple of years ago with a brick of League decks. While I wouldn't go so far as to
say I disapprove of this practice, my own inclination is to preserve a complete or even partial brick of decks.
The following image is of a sealed Club deck (ca. 1940-1965)
that sold on eBay on October 8, 2016 for $788. According to the listing, this deck was "from
the estate of Bruce Cervon. He inherited many decks from Dai Vernon, Senator Clarke Crandall, and
other legendary magicians." This is an extraordinary sum of money for a back design that is
not especially desirable, although one would expect to pay a premium for a mint sealed example. I
spoke to a fellow collector who knows more than I do about the history of magic and magicians, and
he said that in his opinion the provenance does not alone justify the sum paid. Even as we try to
quantify the value of our collections, the market fluctuates, sometimes wildly! For another example of the
peculiar forces that govern the prices of Bicycle cards, please see the
Cyclist No. 2 page.
The last image, below, is from a Universal Playing Card Co.
catalogue in the collection of a Japanese collector, Kei Izumi. Several of the backs in Universal's
extensive offerings bear a striking resemblance (or are identical) to USPCC back designs. The image below shows
their adaptation of the Club Back design, along with some wonderful cards in the "Indicator" style.
Also see the Angel,
Nautic pages for more images from
this interesting catalogue.
A red US8e Club deck sold on eBay for $73
on October 24, 2016. A red US8c Club joker sold on eBay for $30 on March 13, 2017. A red US8c Club ace of
spades sold on eBay for $19 on April 22, 2017.