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Transformation of Playing Cards

Transformation Playing Cards are those in which the pip cards have been integrated into an overall design thereby 'transforming' the playing card into a miniature graphic artwork. The pips must retain their traditional position and shape, so it is sometimes difficult to create a good design. The idea became popular at the beginning of the 19th century as a pastime, when packs were often 'transformed' by hand using pen and ink. 19th century hand-drawn packs are now extremely scarce... some of them contain racial caricatures or stereotypes which might be incorrect today, showing how social attitudes have changed since then.

The cards illustrated below first appeared as plates in "The Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashion etc." published by Ackermann in 1818-19. There were 52 cards in total.

See also: Bartlett Ackermann Transformation

Metastasis Transformation Cards, 1811

Above: "Metastasis" Transformation Cards, designed by John Nixon and published in 1811 by S & J Fuller, London.  A new reproduction edition of this pack is available from the E.P.C.S. These designs were later re-used in other packs. Click here.

De la Rue Playing Cards Transformation

Left: These cards have been hand drawn on a De la Rue pack of c.1870, at a slightly later date, c.1886.

Art for the Earth, 1992

Left: "Art for the Earth" Playing Cards published by Andrew Jones Art for The Friends of the Earth, 1992. Royalties from the sale of the pack went towards the campaign to sustain the world's tropical rainforests. Ace of Spades designed by Andras Kaldor; Six of Diamonds by Nicola Bayley; King of Clubs by Norman Thelwell.

Four cards from The Teddy Bear Transformation Deck (1994) designed by Peter Wood

Left: four cards from Pete Wood's 'Teddy Bears' Transformation pack of playing cards (1994).

Above: hand-painted Transformation, c.1800-20

Above: Cotta Transformation playing cards, 1804

Above: H. F. Müller Transformation Vienna, 1809

Above: Metastasis - Transformation of Playing Cards - 1811.

Above: Transformation Playing Cards, 1811.

Above: Bartlett Ackermann Transformation playing cards, 1833

Above: Carl Arnold Transformation playing cards, 1856

Above: Transformation playing cards designed by Adolfo Matarelli (1832-1877).

Above: a pair of hand-drawn Transformations, c.1875

Above: hand-drawn Transformation, c.1880

Above: hand-drawn Transformation, c.1880

Above: Alfred Crowquill Transformation.

Above: Vanity Fair Transformation.

Above: E. P. C. S. 1Oth Anniversary Transformation playing cards designed and produced by Karl Gerich, 1993.

Above: Circus Transformation.

See also: Pack of Dogs   Mermaid Queen   Bag of Bones   Kitten Club

Last Updated October 07, 2015 at 03:02am

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