Mrs. Robinson noted in
her comprehensive booklet on Bicycle cards
that Lotus was introduced in 1891, but I have examples in US8a, the earliest version of Bicycle
cards, so a more accurate start date is 1885. Discontinued in 1943. Lotus is a lovely back design that
can best be described as Egyptian Revival. It is one of several with no representation of bicycles, parts
or wheels. Lotus is a common deck in red and blue, at least in US8c. It was also released in the United
Kingdom, and available there in an edition with gold edges. For more information, click on the
Mrs. Robinson shows Lotus as being issued in green and brown,
but I only know of two brown decks. One is a standard issue in a partial original brown box. This is the
first standard issue brown Lotus I have ever seen, and also the first brown or green US8 box that has
crossed my threshold. Pictures will be posted here soon. The second brown deck is owned by Steve Bowling
and is by no means a standard issue (see a description in the last paragraph, below). I have never seen a
green deck or singles circulating in either green or brown. Unless some hidden decks percolate to the
surface, expect to find Lotus only in red or blue.
A collector friend and frequent correspondent writes,
"my earliest sample book has a price list dated 1/2/1899 and in the Bicycle section Lotus is listed
as being available in the standard red and blue only. Therefore, if this design was ever offered in brown
and green, it had to have been somewhere shortly after it was introduced. I have no examples of any kind
for Lotus in either Brown or Green."
I made an interesting discovery about Lotus in 2017: early
issues of the design were actually one-way, meaning that the design is different if you flip it 180 degrees.
in other words, the deck has a distinct top and bottom. Unlike many Bicycle decks that were deliberately drawn
to be asymmetrical, Lotus's one-way aspect seems to have been unintentional, and in any event is certainly
subtle: in early issues the shading on the center of the lotus flower appears on the same side in both
flowers. At some point, this was corrected and later versions of Lotus have the shading on opposite sides of
the flower. For a comparison between these two different versions, see the details of the designs, below.
Mousing over will flip the images 180 degrees. Some other Bicycle backs with subtle one-way designs are
Motorcycle No. 1 and early
versions of Pedal and
In a rare instance of a longstanding Bicycle back design
being used for an entirely non-traditional pack of cards, Lotus was released in 1927 in a 60 card deck
designed by Helen Parker Ford called "Shuffle Staff." Each card featured some combination
of musical notes or symbols, corresponding letters, and the four suit symbols. The deck was designed
as a musical teaching tool. The cards appear to be standard issue USPC cards which must have been sold with
blank faces. Ms. Ford would have then made arrangements to have the faces printed with her designs. See
images of a few of the cards and box, below.
Steve's brown Lotus deck is a promotional deck printed
by the U.S. Playing Card Company for Krupp's, a steel manufacturing company (Hochman US8). The deck is very
rare, and came in its own celluloid and cloth box. The joker depicts a Krupp's No. 1 railroad train wheel,
as does the outside of the box. This deck was issued in a red Lotus as well, and at least one other back design:
a red Racer No. 1 (US8b), of which I have an example. Please visit the
Racer No. 1 page for pictures and more information about this unusual deck of
A blue US8 Lotus deck in G/VG condition (no box no joker)
sold on ebay for $141 on October 8, 2016. A blue US8b Lotus deck in VG condition (52 + joker) sold on eBay
for $110 on November 20, 2016. A red Lotus US8a "Best Bower" high wheel joker sold on eBay for
$152 on January 10, 2017. A red Lotus US8a ace of spades sold on eBay for $79.00 on January 14, 2017. A red
US8c Lotus deck with joker and box in NM condition sold on eBay for $100 on September 7, 2017.