Friday, May 8, 2015

Illustration: "Revolving Poker Rack" from Pacific Game Company

This is the groovy illustration, chock full of card players in period attire, that's pasted to the top of a box that once held a poker rack and 200 chips. "Revolving Poker Rack" was sold by Pacific Game Company of North Hollywood, California — sometime in the early 1970s, I'm guessing.

I don't think Pacific Game Company is still in business. The latest reference I can find to it is around 1980. Some interesting chapters of its history include an elaborate 1973 game called Columbus Was Wrong and an early 1960s chess set that featured pieces (designed by Peter Ganine) that were also used as props on Star Trek, for its famous Tri-Dimensional Chess.1

People selling this vintage poker rack these days try to woo potential buyers by labeling it as a "Mad Men Era Poker Rack." I guess this time period isn't simply the late 1960s or early 1970s any more. It's just The Mad Men Era.2 Redo the history books.

This box also came with a little slip of paper telling people to address any issues they had with the poker rack to A. Kray of Pacific Game Company.

I wonder how much weekly mail Kray received. And if it included the "complete facts," as requested. And if any of it still exists.

1. The Pacific Game Company chess set in question was called "Sculptured Chess" or "Gothic" and was issued in 1961. On the website, the author lambasts Peter Ganine's design not once, but twice.

On a page titled "Chess Sets From Hell," the writer states: "At the top of my list is an aberration I call the Gothic, after its most ubiquitous and egregious incarnation, Sculptured Chess by Ganine "Gothic" (# 1475, the Salon Edition), from Pacific Game Company of North Hollywood. ... Pacific Games must have sold buckets of these, as they're thick as cockroaches on eBay."

And on a page titled "'Gothic' and similar busts," the writer, while also giving a detailed history of these chess pieces, states: "These seem to have been popular, but they always gave me the nerdles. ... The basic design is still as ugly as the aft end of a baboon, no matter what they colored it (remember, fancy colors didn't help the baboon's image either)."

Meanwhile, for a great history of the use of these Pacific Game Company Gothic chess pieces on Star Trek, check out this page from Carolus Chess.

2. By the way, as we near the final episode of Mad Men (which I don't watch), the most far-out fan theory is that Don Draper will morph into D.B. Cooper in the finale. That would be something.


  1. I still keep a set of poker chips in this same box I got from my grandparents. Any idea how old it is? It is numbered 2043.

  2. Wouldn't that be funny if one of these were sitting on my dining room table right now? Oh wait, there is one! LOL

  3. That's CRAZY. I mean, it's 2017 and, while I'm sure there are a bunch of those poker sets still around, the number of original boxes has to be super low. What are the odds?!!?