Introduced in 1919. Discontinued in 1943. Like some other
decks of this era, Nautic decks are surprisingly difficult to find complete in an original box.
Pictured in the first image, below, is a beautiful joker
issued with the U.S. Playing Card Company's Army and Navy deck (described and pictured on page 85 of the Hochman
Encyclopedia and designated US5h). Prior to joining the Bicycle family, the Nautic back was featured as a
standard issue on both the Army and Navy brand Nos. 303 and 3032, according to sample cards shown in a 1908
sample book. This association provides a reason for a decorative but otherwise non-nautical back design being
called "Nautic." [thanks to a fellow collector and frequent contributor for much of this information]
Nautic singles may be from these earlier USPC Army & Navy
issues, and not necessarily Bicycle. It's also worth noting that under the former brand, Nautic was issued
in green and brown as well as the standard red and blue, but was issued under the Bicycle brand only in red
and blue. So, don't be confused by those lovely green and brown Nautic singles--they are not Bicycle cards!
The next image shows a comparison between an interesting
Peruvian card I purchased some years ago and the Nautic back. Once again, a standard USPC back design has
been modified by another organization, in this case the government of Peru. The quality appears to be
identical to a standard Bicycle issue, so it is hard to say whether this back was created for Peru by
USPCC or the design was appropriated and printed by another company. But, interesting that the sale of
playing cards in Peru benefited national defense!
The last image, below, is from a Universal Playing Card Co.
catalogue in the collection of a Japanese collector, Kei Izumi. Several of the backs in Universal's
extensive offerings bear a striking resemblance (or are identical) to USPCC back designs. The image below
shows their version of the Nautic Back, christened "Buffalo" for no apparent reason. This was one
of two of Universal's brands that featured Nautic. Also see the
pages for more images from this interesting catalogue.