by Tom and Judy Dawson
The origins of this book go back to 1976 when Gene Hochman published Part I and Part II of the Encyclopedia of American Playing Cards. These two volumes constituted a comprehensive, illustrated listing of certain categories of known non-standard American playing card decks. Gene went on to publish Part III in 1978, Part IV in 1979 and Parts V and VI in 1980 and 1981 respectively, these latter two adding many listings to the categories covered in the first four volumes.
These books were a prodigious effort, requiring a huge amount of research, and many, many hours of typing, photographing and compilation – all in days when the technology for this type of project was a far cry from that available today.
In 1989, after Gene and his wife Ellen had ‘retired’ to Florida , he decided it was time to update and consolidate his Encyclopedia. For many months he labored away, taking pictures of new listings discovered and updating material in his original volumes for information which had become known, or clearer, since that time. However, he found it was eating into the time he relished for other activities that had become part of his new way of life in the warmer climes of the south. Then, on a visit to Gene in 1992 by the Dawson's, he asked them to help him finish the rewrite of the Encyclopedia, do some traveling to visit collectors and photograph hard to find decks, and arrange the publishing with old friend Stuart Kaplan of U.S. Games. They agreed to to help and soon found themselves completely in charge of the project as Gene's health waned and he suffered an untimely death in 1994.
Progress on the consolidated version was slow, but it was ultimately completed in the fall of 2000, with many new entries and better quality pictures all contained in one volume . The revision included over 1500 listings on more than 300 typeset pages, over 2700 black and white pictures and a 24 page colored insert.