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Adolfo Matarelli Transformation

Transformation playing cards designed by Adolfo Matarelli (1832-1877) and originally published by Lit. G. Payer, Florence, c.1860 with the title “Album”. Matarelli was a well known caricaturist who first illustrated Carlo Collodi's famous Pinocchio story. He was also a collaborator in the satirical magazine “Il Lampione”, founded by Collodi. The images in the intricately designed “transformed” playing cards are supposed to be street scenes, but are often allegorical or symbolic, suggesting a moral or political innuendo and resulting in a visually pleasing and intriguing transformation deck.

The Court Cards

The 12 court figures are all standing in front of a background scene which enhances the sense of drama.

Transformation playing cards desgned by Adolfo Matarelli (1832-1877)

Above: 52-card deck of transformation playing cards designed by Adolfo Matarelli (1832-1877), reissued here as a facsimile edition named 'Toscana playing cards' published by Cavallini & Co., San Francisco. The set is presented in a handmade box accompanied by a Jolly Joker and information card. The original pack was printed in two versions: 52 cards and 40 cards. Images courtesy Rex Pitts.

Above: the same cards in an uncoloured version reissued in a facsimile edition named 'Carte Comiche' published by Vito Arienti, Edizioni del Solleone, Lissone, 1982. The edition includes a title card and an information card. images courtesy of Rod Starling, author of "The Art and Pleasures of Playing Cards".

Last Updated January 02, 2016 at 11:48am

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