Introduced in 1895. Discontinued in 1906. An uncommon
deck and, as with all of the Bicycle decks issued in four colors, Racer No. 1 is quite rare in green
or brown. Very similar in style to
Model No. 1 (see the second image, below).
Pictured in the first image, below, is a promotional
deck printed by the U.S. Playing Card Company for Krupp's, a German steel manufacturing company.
The deck is very rare, and came in its own celluloid and cloth box. A Krupp's No. 1 railroad train
wheel is depicted both on the joker and on the outside of the box. All other cards are standard.
This deck was issued in at least one other back design,
(Hochman US8) and was available in red and brown.
This is the first and perhaps only example of an otherwise standard Bicycle brand deck being
issued to promote another product. It would be very interesting to know how the Krupp's company
managed to convince the United States Playing Card Company to create this unusual deck of cards.
But, I do have a theory.
According to Wikipedia, The Krupp family, a
prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, had become famous for their production of
steel, artillery, ammunition, and other armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich
Krupp AG, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. It was important
to weapons development and production in both world wars.
Krupp's had a Great Krupp Building with
an exhibition of guns at the Columbian Exposition, which was staged in Chicago in 1893.
I believe that this deck of cards was commissioned by Krupp's as a promotional item for the
international exposition. It would also not be surprising if USPC requested that the deck not
depict armaments of any kind, resulting in the train wheel being the only product shown on the
cards. By necessity, then, the release date of the US8b ace of spades (and this deck) would be
two years earlier than currently estimated (the other Krupps deck is the earlier US8 release),
but I don't think that that is an unreasonable supposition. In any event, I can think of no better
explanation for why this prominent European company would have sought and succeeded in having
their products promoted by an American playing card manufacturer in the 1890's.
The next image shows a comparison between
Model No. 1 and Racer No. 1, easily confused at first glance.
A green Racer No. 1 single sold on eBay on
October 22, 2016 for $19, which is a very reasonable price for such a desirable single. A brown
Racer No. 1 sample card sold on eBay for $120 on February 22, 2017. Sample cards are rarely
offered as singles, and make for excellent type examples in any collection, so this is not a
surprising result. See a scan of the card in the last image, below. A red Racer No. 1 US8b
deck (VG, no joker, no box) sold on eBay for $90 on March 8, 2017.