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.
Some very attractive designs have been printed in larger editions.
A selection of such cards is illustrated below:
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.
Left: These cards have been hand drawn on a De la Rue pack of c.1870, at a slightly later date, c.1886.
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.
Left: four cards from Pete Wood's 'Teddy Bears' Transformation pack of playing cards (1994).
Above: Cotta Transformation playing cards, 1804
Above: E. P. C. S. 1Oth Anniversary Transformation playing cards designed and produced by Karl Gerich, 1993.
Above: Metastasis - Transformation of Playing Cards - 1811.
Above: Transformation Playing Cards, 1811.
Above: Transformation playing cards designed by Adolfo Matarelli (1832-1877).
Above: Alfred Crowquill Transformation.
Above: Vanity Fair Transformation.
Above: Circus Transformation.
See also: Pack of Dogs Mermaid Queen Bag of Bones Kitten Club