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.
Only a handful of complete decks from the entire War
Series are known to exist today. The other three designs are
Big Gun, and
Invincible. I am only
aware of two existing Flying Ace decks, one red and one blue. The blue 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.
Pictured below is the back and front of an original
Flying Ace box. The last 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
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!