The Paymaster set is an homage to my father’s stock drag racing career in the early 1960s. Paymaster was the name of his 1964 Plymouth Belvedere which also seemed like a perfect name for a poker set.

A brief history on Buddy Jones’ racing career:

My father had a very short but extremely successful racing career in the early 1960s. He raced the prototype for Chrysler’s Max Wedge engine which he modified. At the time his numbers were blowing away Chrysler’s specs for the engine, so they sent a team of engineers to see what he had done and ultimately adjusted their assembly of the engine to match it. He won the Florida state championship both years he raced Paymaster and was a Daytona Nationals finalist.

My father’s racing career was cut short by an accident he had that he probably should not have survived but managed to walk away from unscathed. Very shortly after one of his close friends had the exact same accident on the same track and was killed. My father never raced again. Ironically we lost him in 1990 in a car crash.

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The process:

The Paymaster set involved a truly unique process to bring to life and some very fortuitous events. This was always going to be a ceramic set. I wanted to use the full face of each chip as a vignette to tell a story or more specifically a race. I wanted to showcase my father’s car in various scenes including several action shots. To do this we had to lift actual pictures of race cars and superimpose my father’s car into them. I approached John Faulhaber on my idea and he seemed daunted. He told me it would be a lengthy process and would require us to get an outside artist who had a background in vector graphics to render the car into scalable images that could be used on the chip. He advised that it would be both difficult to achieve and also possibly impossible to find an artist both capable and willing to do the work at a non exorbitant price.

John contacted several people he knew and I also worked some contacts I had in the artistic community. All to no good. For a bit I truly despaired that I would never be able to get this project off of the ground. Then a very unusual chain of events occurred. I was visiting a friend’s place of work who also has moonlighted on PCF a few time (Doug -Supahnit). While there I noticed he had a book of art on his desk. The book was made of pictures of oil paintings of wines. What drew my attention was the first picture was a still life painting of a bottle of Domaine Carneros La Reve. If you have never heard of this wine before it would not be surprising as it is not well known. However the wine is extremely significant to me as I proposed to my wife at Domaine Carneros in Napa while drinking this exact wine and it has become a staple every year for our anniversary. I was astounded to see a picture of it and mentioned this to Doug. He told me he had befriended the artist and actually wanted me to meet him because he was my neighbor! The man who had made this painting lives at the end of my street. On top of that he makes paintings of wine and whiskey in poker settings. So to get to the point I go to the artists house one night (Ian Greathead). We have a scotch and go down to his workshop. On the way down the stairs his house is decorated with paintings he has made of classic cars from the 50s and 60s and in his basement is even a painting he made for the California restaurant The Hitching Post of a still life with a bottle of their wine. The serendipity was thick! Hoping Ian would be able to direct me to a contact I mentioned my project and the need for a vector graphics artist. To my surprise he laughed and said that besides painting his other job is doing vector graphics for mechanical specifications. I cannot emphasize how surreal finding Ian was, I have never before had a moment in my life where something so improbable fell into my lap at the exact moment I needed it. I can only say that this project was meant to be.

Formulating the chips:

I lifted numerous scenes and ultimately we decided on six scenes for the chips plus a dealer button that had the cars at the starting line with an all American starter girl. Below are the examples I gave and Ian’s initial renderings.

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Once Ian had supplied art for all the chips and the button J5 took the images and placed them into chips. We worked hard to keep a consistent 1960s racing asthetic from the colors involved to the design elements.

Some notes on the final design
The denomination on each chip is meant to mimic old school racing numbers.

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Each chip has two contrasting colors on the outside line, this is meant to simulate racing stripes.
The Paymaster logo is a chrome approximation and the font was designed to mimic the Plymouth logo from the era.

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The “Driver: Buddy Jones” at the top of each chip was lifter directly from my father’s car.

To keep a sense of action the orientation of the elements moves around from chip to chip. On some the denomination and Paymaster logo are below the art, on some they are on top, and on thers they bracket it.
There are also three backgrounds used, one is staggered line, another is a color fade, and the third is actually a simulated checker flag for the chips which represent the end of the race.
The dealer button is designed to suggest extreme Americana. From a red, white, and blue motif to the American flag the girl is dropping to start the race, and even to stars on the rolling edge of the chip. Ian’s original art for the girl was a little too plain. It was the one item I had to ask him to touch up. He made her a bit more sexy and gave her pose a little more attitude.

The final design was everything I ever could have hoped for. The idea with this set was to tell a story and I feel that Ian and J5 helped me do that in spades.
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