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 Dreadnaught, 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!

A blue Flying Ace sample card sold on eBay for $100 on January 23, 2018. These War Series sample cards only appeared in the 1917 edition of the U.S. Playing Card Co.'s sample books, and should therefore be considered among the most rare of all sample cards. See the Flying Ace sample card in the final image, below. The entire page from a 1917 salesman's sample book can be seen on the Invincible page.

  29. Expert                                                 31. Handlebar  


Two biplane themed cards from other manufacturers, one old, one new.
The red back on the left is the Gaffney "Democracy" deck described above.

The Flying Ace sample card.