Introduced in 1894. Discontinued in 1908. A very pleasant design
that strives for symmetry in its outer regions but relinquishes all hope in the central motif. Not rare by any
means, but certainly uncommon in an original box, and especially paired with its joker. Some, but not all,
Pneumatic No. 1 decks were issued with the joker upside down relative to the back design. Some US8b decks were
also issued with the ace of spades upside down as well. "Pneumatic" refers to the type of tire that
is featured on the card.
In June of 2017, I revised this page to reflect the discovery of
a US8c version of Pneumatic No. 1. Before this time, I had never seen a US8c issue of this deck. The first image,
below, shows the ace of spades (sold on ebay as a single, not a complete deck). While the most recent issue,
this version of Pneumatic should be considered scarce. So far, I've only seen the one single card.
A sharp eyed collector noticed that there is a very rare variant
of Pneumatic No. 1 that was issued with an asymmetrical border design. On the standard Pneumatic No. 1 back,
the tiny wheels in the border design all overlap in the same direction. The rare variant has wheels overlapping
in both directions, and can be detected from a distance by noting the stripes between and below the gentleman and
lady rider's wheels. The two interlocked tires also have finer engraved lines on the rare version. See the second
image, below, for a comparison with the more common version. How did this happen? The asymmetrical version was
most likely issued first, and then corrected soon after the design's release. Most Bicycle cards that had a
longer run can be found with subtly different versions as new printing plates were crafted to replace worn
ones (see Wheel No. 1 for an interesting
example of a back design with two distinct versions).
The final image below shows a comparison of a standard Pneumatic
No. 1 card with a promotional card advertising the Ide High Art Wheel. This is a relatively recent discovery
for me, and I don't yet know anything about these cards or how they came to be manufactured. This is either
an unauthorized appropriation of a USPC design, or another early example of the Bicycle brand licensing its
designs for other commercial enterprises. In either case, this is a very rare deck. I have only seen one single
card and whether it is authorized or not, it certainly has the quality and finish of a Bicycle card from the
era. Interestingly, the Ide card design is based on the rare early version of Pneumatic No. 1 with the
A Pneumatic No. 1 sample card sold on eBay for $36.00 on
February 14, 2017. A blue US8c Pheumatic No. 1 ace of spades sold on eBay for $7.50 on June 17, 2017.