From the collection of Tom & Judy Dawson
Thomas Crehore made decks of cards in the Boston area from about 1802 to the middle 1840's. Manufacture of American decks started in the very late 1700's to replace imports, mainly from England, so Crehore was one of the first makers. American decks were quite similar to the large square-cornered decks from England and quite dull compared to those from some of the other European countries. Generally, they were made on heavy stock, had square corners and no indices. While the court cards varied by manufacturer, and on different brands within single manufacturers, they were similar in appearance. Typically, they were one-way [i.e. not double-ended as we are now accustomed to], printed from woodblocks or copper engravings and colored after printing through the use of stencils.
As is still the case with American playing cards, the Aces of Spades of the period were quite elaborate and indicated the maker of the cards. Crehore's various Aces of Spades tended to be quite similar and quite patriotic! The Spade pip is crowned with an eagle and a spread of thirteen stars encircles its top half. Note also that the banner below the eagle says "American Manufacture", ensuring that the buyer would know it was not imported from the, at that time, hated British - at least around Boston!
This deck, Number U4 in the Hochman Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards, was made circa 1820. Pictured are the Spade Ace, the geometrically designed back, one pip and three court cards.