Introduced in 1918 and probably discontinued that
same year. This is one of four extremely rare World War I back designs that were part of the War
Series. They were manufactured on or about 1918 and their rarity suggests that they were never
actually released to the public, perhaps because the war ended that same year.
The other three War Series designs are
Big Gun, and
Invincible. Only six complete
decks from the entire War Series are known to exist today. One of the six is a red Flying Ace deck, pictured below.
There was also apparently a blue Flying Ace deck, but that one has been parted out for singles (to use an
automotive term). As a result, blue singles appear on the market from time to time, but I have never seen a red
single offered. The whereabouts of the blue box is unknown to me.
The second image shows a couple of cards from other manufacturers
with a similar theme. The card pictured on the left is called "Democracy." Lee Asher wrote an informative article
about the back design in
Issue 35 of Card Culture (October 2017):
With the goal of setting out to publish an all-American
deck of playing cards, patriotic artist James C. Gaffney succeeded in spades (no pun intended). Replacing
the traditional cards with Ace airmen, Navy officers & Red Cross nurses, this deck was eventually granted a
U.S. patent in 1918 (see paperwork below), and called the Democracy Deck. Because Gaffney absolutely had no
means of manufacturing playing cards, he allowed Russell Playing Card Company to produce the deck for him.
Gaffney’s deck was printed in various colors such as rose, blue, purple & gray. They were also advertised
as coming with a heavy linen gilt-edge. God bless America!