I’m always curious about the origins of odd little bits of popular culture, especially when they relate specifically to things I like. So when I was thinking about pop culture references to poker, this was one of the first things I thought of. Everybody has seen these pictures but few know where they came from.
They date back to 19 03 from the artist C.M. Coolidge and were originally commissioned for cigar ads. Along with poker, I also love cigars. These maybe these kitschy things aren’t so bad after all. Sixteen were produced in the series though not all of them featured poker. Waterloo and A Friend in Need are probably the most recognizable. The above pictured His Station and Four Aces less so I’m sure. Though most people probably couldn’t immediately picture one of these; they just know the concept because it is so ubiquitous in the culture.
Its amusing to note that the company which comissioned them – Brown & Bigelow – also produced Noraman Rockwell’s work. Some become good old Americana while others are destined for tacky infamy.
Historical info courtesy of Wikipedia. Heres a site with some more of the pics in case anyone wants to indulge in these timeless classics. http://www.dogsplayingpoker.org/gallery/browse.html