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Nobody really knows where the Joker comes from. The story about his origin that I like best is that he comes from tarot. They say fool is the only card of the major arcana that has survived when the standard cards have developed. Even though there is quite some similarity with the fool in tarot it could have been different.

Especially card games with 52 cards have from the year 1900 on at least one Joker. Later the number was increased to two and then three and I have already seen decks that have four Jokers. Even though the word Joker is an international expression, he is often called "Jolly" or "La Matta" in Italy and "Comodín" in Spain.

Collecting Jokers is one of the most popular fields in playing cards. The reason is that in the United States, where you only know the Anglo-American pattern, this is the only card (perhaps apart from the ace of spades) that gives you much variation. But also in Europe there are collectors that have specialised in Jokers. This has the disadvantage that you often are offered card decks where the Joker has been removed.

Nowadays you cannot tell anymore if the fool was the father of the Joker.

The most common representation of the Joker in fact is a fool.

This stick (picture to the left) can be seen on Joker cards very often.

Joker scenes with playing cards

Original and plagiarism?

The Joker as clown and/or circus artist

Sometimes the Joker plays a music instrument.

A female Joker. The picture left shows a young woman in the fool's costume. The card to the right does not come from an erotic game; it is from a non standard deck made in Russia. Note the writing in Cyrillic letters.

Not so often double faced Jokers can be seen.

The Jokers especially (but not only) in non standard games can have a special design that has only little if any resemblance with the fool.