Time Travelers Poker Game

During quarantine, I’ve filled my time by giving myself complex photo assignments. I thrive on having a project that I can’t solve immediately. I need to work out composition, sourcing props, figuring out lighting, taking the photo and finalizing it for its final form. My latest photo composition asks what if pop culture’s time travelers that visited the old west all played poker together? I wanted an image that was pleasing enough to warrant looking at it for awhile, but if you dig a little, you’ll find props from all three shows. I’ve put together props from Back to the Future III, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and the Season 5 cliff hanger of Star Trek the Next Generation (when Data’s head blows off and he ends up in 1880s San Francisco) all into one big poker game. Read on!

Civil War poker game
If you saw my Civil War Poker Game composition, I wanted this composition to be similar to it enough to be joined possibly as part of a series. But I wanted it to stand out as well. These two images share some common elements from the second half of the 1800s, particularly look out for the folding knife, pocketwatch, matchbox, make an appearance in both. Now let’s look at the time traveler specific props.
This upper corner features the Back to the Future III props. Though we never see Marty play poker during the course of the film, I assumed Doc played with the old timers in the saloon at least once. The prop replicas I have are Doc’s letter mailed to Marty via Western Union, and a piece of braided hose and vacuum tube from the DeLorean. I found a piece of barbed wire, similar to that carried by the barbed wire salesman that clues Clara into Doc’s misery. And what’s this! A set-used prop! That’s right, recently at auction I purchased the Wild Bill Old West Show ticket. This ticket came straight from the set of Back to the Future III (yes I have a COA). It’s set used but not screen used; the difference is that the prop master had this prop made up and on the set, but it doesn’t really show up on screen where you could identify it. Also, as I decided where to put which drinks, Doc’s position needed the whiskey.
While I don’t have as many props from Star Trek, they’re pretty significant. In S5E26 Time’s Arrow, part one, Lt. Commander Data finds himself zapped to 1880s San Francisco. Without any money or supplies, he finds that he can play poker and get some local currency to afford a hotel room and some period accurate clothes. He has no ante, so he pitches in his Communicator to the pot. It was easy grabbing a magnetic-back Comm pin, but the real win here is the 1970s era deck of playing cards. A user on Replica Prop Forum matched the pattern on the back of the deck seen in the episode to Tiger 565 cards produced in the 70s and available on eBay. I thought that was pretty cool.
Three Aces
The only problem with that deck of cards is that they have indices in the corners (the little numbers and suit) and though indices first appeared in 1870, they weren’t very common, and they were not on the cards used in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I’ve been searching for a replica of the deck used in that game with Billy the Kid, but so far no luck identifying it. So I cheated a little, in this photo the card backs are from Tiger 565 and Star Trek, but the card fronts were from a replica 1864 Highlander deck.

I also created the Waterloo passes that Ted tries to use to bribe his way out of the bar brawl. The fronts were never seen on screen, so I had to take some liberties.
I’ve been collecting enamel pins for my camera bag and I couldn’t pass up grabbing this Ziggy Piggy badge. Something “in-universe” like this is much more appealing to me rather than a pin that had the Bill & Ted logo or something. So I had to include that. I also have one of those artificially aged Wanted posters for Billy the Kid.
A few other small details, in both BTTF:III and Star Trek they used more money than poker chips, so I had to track down a replica silver dollar coin and some era appropriate paper bills (including this 1886 Educational Series $5 that has a naked boob on it!). I also wanted to include my replica pocket-watch in the center to signify the time travel. The poker chips and ceramic beer bottle are actual relics from the 1860s (but not used by Civil War soldiers).
Hopefully the Quarantine doesn’t go too much longer but I have enough plans that there will be more photos in my prop and poker series even if I’m not trapped at home.

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