This card trimmer is a replica of an antique card trimmer that had originally been made by Graham. Such card trimmers were commonly sold by all crooked gambling supply houses. These machines are used to produce marked cards known as trims, short cards, as well as stripper decks (see the chapter on marked cards for details). However, due to the design of these trimmers, the work that can be put on the cards with these types of trimmers is not exactly fine.
It should be noted that a card trimmer has to be used alongside another piece of equipment, called a corner rounder. A corner rounder does exactly what the name implies: it rounds the corners, of the playing cards, of course. Naturally, the process of trimming the edge of a playing card will damage the nicely-rounded corner, so a corner rounder is supposed to restore the corners of the cards, back to the original factory appearance.
Another thing that should be noted is the fact that these trimmers were used a lot to produce trims, as already mentioned above. This fact is usually ignored (or at least hardly ever mentioned) by collectors of crooked gambling paraphernalia, who usually only mention that they were used to make stripper decks. While this statement is definitely true, it is also true that high quality stripper decks were never made on these kind of trimmers, simply because the design of these machines doesn't really make it easy (or even possible) to produce light work, especially after the blades get a bit dull. Also, these trimmers can only produce two kinds of cuts, straight cuts (to make a card shorter or narrower), or beveled cuts (to give a the edge of a card an outer bevel, which must be done in two stages). The type of cut that this machine cannot produce is an inner bevel, that makes the card narrower in the middle, while leaving the width near the corners intact.
One apparatus used to produce inner bevels, as well as slightly finer work, is a stripper plate. Another gaff is a stripper machine that is still somewhat unknown, but is used to make really fine work that cannot be detected by accident (which is not the case with strippers made on a card trimmer). There have also been other types and/or variations of machines, some even with rotating blades, and those are fairly unknown.
Below is a clipping from an old HC Evans Blue Book, crooked gambling catalog, showing a listing for the exact card trimmer shown above.
The card trimmer was sold at an auction for $440, in October 2009. Quite a bargain, considering that these are highly collectable items. This one was made by George Mason, Chicago maker.
Card trimmers were made in various styles, however. Below is a picture of yet another card trimmer that is much simpler in design and perhaps not so common.