Kickstarter: Bicycle the Lumberjacks 2nd Ed. Playing Cards by Vadim Smolenskiy

20 Mar

The King of Spades is the only king in this deck that doesn’t hold an ax. He is wielding a crosscut saw (thwart saw). Vadim mistakenly names it “one man lance tooth saw”. Crosscut saws really have some type of classification on the basis of their teeth, and one of the types is lance tooth saw. But the King of Spades holds the other type of crosscut saws – M tooth saw. It was developed in 15th century southern Germany.

“King of Spades; the only king that doesn’t hold an ax. Instead, he is wielding a one man lance tooth saw.” ~ Vadim

Pennsylvanian lumberjacks were the first loggers who started to use crosscut saws for felling trees. It was somewhere in 1880. Prior to about 1880 the saws were primarily used for bucking, with axes used to fall trees.

“Queen of Spades; the worker… In a standard deck of playing cards, the queen of spades is the only queen with a “bed post” in the frame.” ~ Vadim

The Queen of Spades is named a worker. As any women in this deck she is a fictional lumberjack (read above).  She is the only queen that carries an axe. Vadim underlined in this way the fact that the queen is the only one in a classic Anglo-French deck who holds a scepter (which is a “bed post” for lumberjacks 😉 ).

Also there are rumors that she got that axe from the Jack of Spades… Well, while lumberjacks definitely don’t know what is vaudeville, it doesn’t mean its lack in their family life.

“Jack of Spades; the slacker! The only jack that isn’t holding a tool. I think I know who the queen of spades got her ax from! Later pictured on one of the two Jokers.” ~ Vadim

Vadim named the Jack of Spades a slacker. Let me dispute this. First of all, Vadim acknowledges that he is helping the Jack of Heart to buck a log on the Diptych of Jokers.

Secondly, the division of labour in lumber camps led to several specialized jobs on logging crews. One of such jobs was whistle punk. The appropriate person should sound a whistle as a signal to the yarder operator controlling the movement of logs and act as a safety lookout. The Jack of Spades is a whistle punk. He doesn’t need to have some instrument in his hands. The Jack has to be alert and think fast as the safety of the others depends on him.

Thirdly, don’t be naive. An instrument in someone’s hands doesn’t mean that the person is a slogger. For example, I am suspicions of the King of Diamonds. Look at him (below). Look how he holds his axe. Have you ever used an axe? 😉

Bicycle the Lumberjacks 2nd Edition Playing Cards: Spades


p.s. Vadim still doesn’t respect his Jack of Spades. He gave him a stein of beer to underline that he is a slacker. I still doesn’t agree with that. I am ready to stick up the Jack 🙂


The King of Hearts from a classic Anglo-French deck of playing cards is informally known as the Suicide King because of the sword through his head. History is silent about the reasons why the king decided to rummage in his ear with his sword. Lumberjacks are severe people. They use axes for the same purposes.

“Queen of Hearts; the tree hugger! Not too thrilled about all the trees being cut down and shown protecting the tree.” ~ Vadim

As I have said, the Queen of Hearts makes really an indelible impression on me. Does she try to save a tree? People, let that tree remain alive. I am seriously. Look at her biceps. This lady won’t joke – that tree can cause your end quicker than you will be able to cause “the end” of the tree.

“Jack of Hearts; shown with a two man saw and the hard hat that all the jacks wear. He is also later pictured on one of the two Jokers.” ~ Vadim

The Jack of Hearts holds a two-man crosscut saw. As we already know (read above), he is going to cooperate with the Jack of Spades, and to buck the log.

Crosscut saws have been in use around the world since historic times. They came into wide usage in Europe in the middle of the 15th century. In America, it happened as early as the mid-17th century. But felling saws only began to replace axes for felling trees in the late 19th century.

There were two main types of two-man saws: “felling saws” and “bucking saws”. The first were used to fall the trees, and the second ones were used to cut felled trees into lumber. The two applications require slightly different designs: a felling saw has a narrower blade, allowing wedges to be more easily inserted, while a bucking saw has a wider blade, giving it more strength.

Bicycle the Lumberjacks 2nd Edition Playing Cards: Hearts


The King of Clubs is wielding the double-edge axe that’s featured on the backs of all the cards and tuck. Such axes were used for felling trees and for splitting them. Splitting axe bits are more wedge shaped. This shape causes the axe to rend the fibres of the wood apart, without having to cut through them. The bit of a felling axe in turn needs to be very sharp, to be able to efficiently cut the fibres.

I have to think that as a fictional lumberjack the Queen of Clubs is going to skid the log down hills or along a corduroy road (is a type of road made by placing sand-covered logs perpendicular to the direction of the road over a low or swampy area). Those were popular methods to transport harvested logs. Such popular that one such road (street) in Seattle was named Skid Road. Unfortunately, this street later became frequented by people down on their luck. So, both the name of the street and its meaning morphed into the modern term “skid row”, which today means a poor city neighbourhood frequented by homeless people.

The Jack of Clubs is shown with an ax slung over his shoulder. A short break is a sacral thing for the son of the King of Hearts.

It’s hard to say if he belongs to fallers or bucker’s. The actual felling and bucking of trees were specialized job positions done by fallers and bucker’s. But now these two separate job titles are combined.

Bicycle the Lumberjacks 2nd Edition Playing Cards: Clubs


The King of Diamonds is a fop. Why? Read above.

The Queen of Diamonds is a real homemaker. I am sure she is carrying the log to a lumber camp with the aim to build a fire and prepare some delicious dinner.

The Jack of Diamonds is the only lumberjack in this deck holding a rope with an alpine butterfly knot. Butterfly knots are used by climbers.

As it has been said, there were several specialized jobs on logging crews. One of such specific specialists was a high climber (also known as a tree topper). The high climber used iron climbing hooks and rope to ascend a tall tree in the landing area of the logging site, where he would chop off limbs as he climbed, chop off the top of the tree, and finally attach pulleys and rigging to the tree so it could be used as a spar so logs could be skidded into the landing.

High climbers and whistle punks (the Jack of Spades) were both phased out in the 1960s to early 1970s when portable steel towers replaced spar trees and radio equipment replaced steam whistles for communication.

Bicycle the Lumberjacks 2nd Edition Playing Cards: Diamonds


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Posted by on 20.03.2015 in Kickstarter, USPCC


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